Prior to 2020, whenever you stepped into a supermarket, what did you see? An overload of stuff for shoppers to digest… overwhelming amounts of media, products and stimulus that had all become part of the shopper experience.
Recent events have pressed reset on what shoppers expect from stores, forcing retailers to take a long, hard look at what in-store media really delivers for them.
Last week I attended a webinar hosted by Dunnhumby, which excited me about this evolution. It made me question, what will stores look like as we begin to adapt to, and recover from, a pandemic?
And should we now, more than ever, be looking at shopper media through the retailers’ eyes.
What’s been happening with retail media lately?
For the past 10 years, retailer media has been changing. Many major UK retailers like Tesco have dialled back their media opportunities for brands a lot, so the shopper journey is as clean and simple as can be.
Right now, retailers have called off all in-store media activity for at least two months – to allow them to prioritise messages of staying safe while shopping.
It’s a very unusual time, but this clean in-store experience isn’t a million miles from the stripped-back, templated shopper experience large retailers like Tesco and Morrisons have been aiming for.
Why does that matter to brands?
Many brands, as we have experienced over the past few years, have seen this transition happen and found it a little limiting.
We know that a key part of the shopper journey is in the store, in the aisles, at the fixture. This is where the moment of truth happens, and the instant everything we do to disrupt, educate and excite shoppers before it, ultimately leads to.
Before now, brands have been telling us that they wanted to create innovative shopper visuals to excite buyers, so they can create impact in store.
In response, shopper agencies like us have developed innovative FSDU designs, out- of-the-box creative and flipped brand messaging on its head.
But we have experienced some hesitation from the retailers, as they prioritise their cleaner, simpler shopper journey.
With that in mind, how can we help both brands AND retailers make the most of media moving forward?
During the webinar, I began to see all the brands’ creative from the retailer perspective, all of this innovation and flashy artwork is great – but there is a reason it is met with reluctance from the retailers.
The problem is, many of us working in creative shopper marketing are seeing the story from one side – the brand’s. Thinking only about the fact we need to grab that shopper, reinforce everything they have seen about the brand up until this point, and drive purchase.
And of course, we always consider the shopper’s side of it, what they want, need, who they are, their demographics, and their mind-set.
What we must also do is put ourselves in the retailer’s shoes, and think – will this make the shopping experience better, or will it hinder it?
If it doesn’t, their standpoint is, it won’t benefit the brand and will deter the shopper – and that’s not helpful for anyone.
The focus for all should then be to develop an exciting shopper journey enhanced by brands. The engagement that creates will ultimately make a brand/product recognisable to a shopper – and drive purchase anyway.
Working together is only going to become even more crucial…
As we come out of the pandemic and things do start to go back to normal, are retailers going to turn to brands and say ‘right, that media we pushed back, you can supply creative now’?
Or are they going to be more specific, cherry picking media and brands who truly focus on supporting shoppers’ new behaviours, mind-sets and missions.
After all, we know we are likely to head into a recession, many people will have lost their jobs and purse strings will be tight.
Will retailers want brands to tweak their messaging, their NPD launches and price promotions to support shoppers? And how long will this last?
There will be a set of new challenges for us to think about – ones the retailers are setting out, as I write. Agencies, brands and retailers will need to work together to ensure we are carefully planning our retailer media.
Some key ways of doing this include:
- Understanding what the in-store experience means to your shoppers NOW.
- Having optimised your media plans to maximise touchpoints within the shopper journey across the retailer’s multiple channels.
- Being aligned with the overarching strategy of the retailer in question, positioning yourself for mutual growth and success.
I hope these points help you as we wade though this uncertain time.
It’ll be interesting to see what ‘back to normal’ looks like for retailer media… so let’s watch that space.
If you are a brand already seeing these challenges come up, and want to chat to someone about it – get in touch and we can gather our award winning shopper team to help you out…