Building the brand experience from inception to the shelf

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. And if you sell to consumers who believe what you believe — consumers who buy into the “why” — you’ll not only have a fiercely loyal consumer, you’ll have a brand ambassador.

That was one of the key takeaways at the “Architecting a Brand Experience from Concept Through Retail Execution” symposium held here at Navy Pier, Tuesday afternoon, as attendees of the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo absorbed insights from some of the leading creators of “brand experience” today.

“It is no longer relevant for a brand to have a unique selling feature,” Rob Wallace, managing partner of the global brand identity strategy and package design consultancy Wallace Church, told attendees. “We have to disrupt category conventions, transcend category cues and transform consumers in the process. That is the hallmark of our most successful brands.”

As an example of how to successfully build a brand experience from the ground up, Sean Patrick Harrington, founder of the premium skin care line Previse, which is positioned to help prevent niche skin conditions, talked about just how crucial identifying a brand’s name is to the process. “[With Previse], we wanted to be authentic, transparent, easy,” he said. “We chose the word ‘previse’ because it means to foresee or know in advance. … This is what we gave to Wallace Church [who consulted on the brand development process] — a passion for prevention.”

Presenters Rob Wallace, Doug Van Andel, Sean Patrick Harrington and Lily Lev-Glick walk a group from the Shopper Marketing Expo through building a brand from inception to sell-through.

Symposium presenters identified some best practices in helping to differentiate a brand from a sea of sameness, and creating an authentic brand experience on shelf. It begins with analyzing the category and the consumer buying the category.

Previse, for example, had been formulated to be gender agnostic — appealing to men as much as women because even though women, as the healthcare gatekeepers for their families, typically buy skincare, there were not many solutions for men. “Male grooming in this category is exploding. It’s an untapped opportunity,” Wallace said, but it creates a challenge — how do you communicate to men without alienating women?

That leads to the research integration process, which explores the elements of consumer and shopper research that should be integrated into the brand development process. The research should help list the key drivers or attributes of a category directly correlated to purchase intent. When those key drivers are perceived by the shopper to be a strong part of a product’s offering, it helps to move the product off shelf and into the market basket.

When you evaluate how well the brand does across these key drivers, “those are the attributes that are going to be your brand differentiators,” noted Lily Lev-Glick, founder and chief insights officer for the shopper insights and in-store strategy consultancy Shopper Sense. “More importantly, [if] you do this for all of your competitive brands, you will see where everyone falls.”

That helps marketers define why the new product exists — not just as a differentiator from what’s already on the shelf, but in terms of defining the vision and mission behind the new product. This feeds into the why behind the buy.

There are actually five steps that need to happen before implementing the product design and brand story, Wallace explained: Create a position statement; correlate that statement so that it explains the “why” behind the product; convert the statement into a visually impactful message; test the visual among consumers; and present that “visual brief” to the advertising, promotion and merchandising teams. “Follow these five steps before you begin the design development process and you will streamline the experience at every consumer interaction,” Wallace said. “Now this brand tells its own story. This brand has continuity and consistency. It has relevant disruption and innovation in the category. It tells a different story than anything else in the category, and begins to really reflect the experience and essence around the brand.”

Once those five steps have been addressed, it’s time to approach retail distribution and create a shopper-marketing plan. “You’re not just dealing with the brand and all the brand has to face,” noted Doug Van Andel, global creative director for the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, the brand story needs to dovetail with a retailer’s brand identity. “You’ve got a brand that stands for a particular kind of ‘why,’ and then you’ve got a retailer that stands for a particular kind of ‘why.’ Somewhere in the middle, you have shopper intimacy,” he said. “You have to have some understanding that there is some overlap between the brand that is relevant to the retailer and that the retailer has to live up to [its own brand expectations]. … If you take a close look at a Target shopper vs. a Walmart shopper, they are different people.” It’s important to understand where the brand values overlap, Van Andel said.

In the closing segment, attendees were invited to participate in a mock competition to create a program for the launch of Previse Skincare into the supermarket channel and other mass outlets, which is planned for the coming year. The winning presentation, which was selected on site by the presenters, was rewarded with an all-expense-paid, one-week vacation in Long Bay, in the British Virgin Island Tortola. To help spark creativity a group of marketing students was also in attendance, as an added bonus, Wallace told DSN. “I lecture at Columbia Business School’s MBA program and at the [School of Visual Arts] Masters in Branding program, and find that students’ contributions bring a fresh perspective and enthusiasm that drives design thinking and creative problem solving even further,” he said.

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Stop, collaborate and listen: Winning the Target guest in health care

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHICAGO — When collaborating with Target to develop a unique, behavior-changing program, keep one thing in mind — there’s no “silver bullet.”

That was a key takeaway for attendees of Wednesday morning’s seminar, “Inspiring and Winning the Target Guest in Healthcare — A Differentiated Approach,” a key part of the educational lineup here at the Shopper Marketing Expo at Navy Pier.

“As someone who has worked with Target for almost 20 years, I can tell you that there is no silver bullet,” Heidi Froseth, SVP Target team leader at Catapult, explained. “It is really so much more of an art than a science, and it is really a process of being tirelessly passionate about how to win the guest. You have to bring innovative, thought-leading ideas everyday to Target. It is really how you earn your keep with them.”

Heidi Froseth

Froseth, along with Heather Campain, director of category insights and shopper marketing for the Target team at Johnson & Johnson, co-hosted the morning session. Campain provided a behind-the-scenes look at J&J’s “Build Your Own First Aid Kit” campaign, affectionately referred to by the company as “BYOFAK,” she said.
In 2009, J&J partnered with Target to create the promotion. The goal: To build the basket in the retailer’s first-aid category. The program proved successful. So successful that brand rivals eventually jumped aboard the bandwagon and began developing similar programs for competing retailers, she noted.

To make sure the Target program remained differentiated and was a truly Target-specific program, Campain’s team reconvened to revise the program in 2013. Enter: “Be prepared everywhere.”

While the revised promotion proved hugely successful, that’s not to say that the marketing team didn’t encounter some significant challenges along the way. “Many of you with annualized plans can understand the difficulty of being tasked every year to meet increasing goals, new objectives, increasing competition and innovation,” Froseth said. “It is an ever-turning wheel of better, bigger, stronger, faster.”

To help attendees understand the brand team’s process for creating the campaign and how it overcame those challenges, Froseth and Campain outlined six tips:

  • Pause and plan: Assess those intriguing problems and find captivating solutions.
  • Bring in the best perspective: Analyze what you need and who’s best suited to deliver it. Prioritize, emphasize and de-emphasize — rather than compromise — to move the best ideas forward.
  • Understand success: Think fluidly — retailer to guest to brand. Solve programs in a linear fashion.
  • Gain alignment early and often: Involve all key players early on. Solidify a team to keep the conversation going.
  • Own it: Divide and conquer with task teams. Build trust and respect in each other’s expertise to bring the campaign to life.
  • Enjoy the challenge: Connect over a shared drive for excellence. Nurture the team and have fun.

“The research, the insights and the thinking … resulted in a really robust, 360 [degree] surround-sound campaign that we entitled ‘Be Prepared Everywhere,’” Froseth said. “We positioned Target as a retailer that helps make your summer a little easier by helping you prepare the perfect first-aid kit for every occasion. So, whether it’s a high school or family reunion, a really big wedding or every day activities … Target was really about creating the perfect [first-aid checklist] for every single one of those events, plus the perfect-sized bag.”

A cornerstone of the campaign was a chic, exclusive first-aid bag with a complimentary mini travel case inside, so consumers could, as the campaign urged, “be prepared everywhere.” The in-store display, which carried an assortment of more than a dozen J&J first-aid-related items and the exclusive bag, also featured special QR codes, enabling shoppers to scan and access an ideal first-aid checklist for any occasion via their mobile devices.

“One of the important things to keep in mind is, whether it is health care or any other thing that you’re doing, it is just important to keep that Target experience in mind and what she expects Target to deliver,” said Campain. “Health care [is] sometimes not readily associated with Target, … but finding a way to deliver that experience through the Target lens is possible and really important.”

Campain noted that the revamped program resulted in a 47% boost in endcap sales at Target compared with the prior year — the most successful BYOFAK promotion in its five-year history.

“We know that we delivered for Target. We know we delivered for [the Target guest]. And we know we delivered for the brand. We also celebrated the entire village that it took to create this because it certainly wasn’t just a shopper marketing initiative — everybody at all of the companies were involved and all in,” said Campain. “Now, we’re at that time once again where we are ready to stop, collaborate and listen, and we are beginning our journey for 2014.”

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Pre-show symposium examines global best practices in shopper marketing

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHICAGO — The 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo kicked off with a bang as scores of shopper marketing professionals gathered here, at Navy Pier, Tuesday to “travel the globe” of shopper marketing innovation in a special pre-show symposium that examined the world’s cutting-edge programs.

The program, “Best-in-Class Shopper Marketing from Around the World,” was just 1-of-3 pre-show symposia that helped set the stage for the annual Shopper Marketing Expo conference — now in its 19th year — and the high-impact program of speakers and topics lined up for this year’s event, which runs through Oct. 10.

To shed light on market nuances, including shopper drivers and channel-specific challenges, and share insights on global business conditions and retailer opportunities, a group of key thought leaders co-hosted the five-part symposium, which also helped bring to life pivotal case studies from the coming new book, “Global Perspectives on Shopper Marketing,” scheduled for release in November. The book examines shopper-marketing programs executed between 2010 and 2013, highlighting key examples of companies that successfully translated shopper insights into collaborative actions at home and abroad.

“This symposium … marks a great accomplishment that was the hallmark of a long road [that] started out about a year ago, with the idea of publish[ing] the first book ever about … shopper marketing around the world,” Peter Hoyt, CEO and executive director of the Path to Purchase Institute, explained of the coming book. “We are constantly engaging [our members] … and a lot of [you] have told us, for a number of years, that … we would be wise to try to understand more of what is happening in other countries and other parts of the world.”

Peter Hoyt

To help tee up the discussion, Jonathan Dodd, global chief strategy officer of Geometry Global, talked to attendees about the concept of the “Purchase Decision Journey” as a framework for understanding shoppers’ underlying needs and motivations.

“The best work comes from the identification of clear, compelling insights that inspire great, creative ideas that are then executed brilliantly,” said Dodd. “What’s also striking, as I look at the selection of cases from around the world, is that ideas and insights don’t necessarily come from just one place — they come from a whole variety of places whether it’s a moment in time, a point along the purchase decision journey, an unmet need or an emotional connection. What stays true among all solutions is that they are the perfect combination of content and context.”

Dodd explained to attendees how digital is impacting all stages of the path to purchase and that behavior is reinforcing underlying cultural and geographic behaviors. For example, Latin Americans are focused on “deal seeking”; Asians are using social media to provide feedback; and North Americans are actively searching for coupons.

“It is true to say that we live in an omnichannel world where physical, digital and social merge together, allowing shoppers to browse, compare, share and buy anytime, anywhere,” Dodd added.But how can marketers get people to act in today’s complex retail environment? That all boils down to precision, he said.

“Connecting and engaging shoppers at precisely the right time, in the right place and in the right way,” Dodd said. “Of course, that is a challenge when we all know that the path to purchase is no longer linear or sequential. … Those moments are interconnected with one behavior leading to another. The challenge is to identify those relevant journeys, triggers, steps and touchpoints where we can engage with shoppers most effectively to drive purchase behavior.”

Bringing it to life

Following Dodd’s introduction, a panel of executives from Coca-Cola, Unilever, Geometry Global and other companies helped bring to life a handful of pivotal case studies from the new “Global Perspectives on Shopper Marketing” book, including:

  • Minute Maid’s Limon & Nada vending machine by Coca-Cola Iberia: Limon & Nada is a popular beverage among Spaniards, but parent Coca-Cola Iberia saw room for improvement in trial and was also interested in expanding its distribution. The strategy? While Spain’s economic crisis had curbed consumer spending on just about everything, the concept was to create a vending machine that automatically lowered its prices as the temperature rose, explained Efrain Rosario, director of global customer and commercial leadership at Coca-Cola. Launched in 2012, 18 vending machines were placed in theme parks throughout Spain. Limon & Nada now holds a nearly 30% share of the non-carbonated lemon segment, and the program was renewed for a second year.
  • Unilever’s “Cleaning Experts” in Turkey: Insights revealed that multiple-SKU purchases within the home care category are high; however, shoppers often believe that they have enough cleaning products at home and may decide to delay the purchase until the next shopping trip. Looking to overcome this challenge, communicate the effectiveness of Unilever brands and educate shoppers on the benefits of new products, Unilever developed the “Cleaning Experts” campaign. For the first phase of the program, Unilever created special displays that presented all of its home care brands in one area, as “Expert Cleaning Products,” Julie Watson, VP shopper and customer marketing for Unilever, explained. The campaign was implemented in 11 local supermarkets that collectively operated 253 stores in 13 cities. The multi-faceted program also included the creation of some exclusive SKUs and permanent displays for local supermarkets, as well as dispatching teams of “brand ambassadors” into the field to help educate consumers in stores and through in-store sampling events. Stores that participated posted sales growth two times to three times greater than non-participating stores.

Shifting gears, Tim Barnes, chief strategy officer of Fabric Worldwide, took the stage to discuss the importance of big data and the role data sources play in creating the shopper experience. “My charge to you is to figure out how to create the largest and richest data profiles digitally — globally — of your clients that you can. And then use the power of big data to really understand those key engagement points and moments of truth, and map that to a more specific, unique shopper state of mind, which allows you to be more relevant with your content as you engage those people wherever you may see them,” said Barnes. “And think about how you can rapidly design and test content to match the individual because it is critically important and is the piece that is most overlooked. And lastly, connect the dots.”

Kantar Retail Americas managing director Carl Preller followed with a look ahead to what shopper marketing will look like in 2020.
Retail evolution is, in fact, predictable, Preller argued, and winning in a post-modern world involves becoming either a “specialist” or a “granulist,” he explained.

“We are great believers that … as retailers and suppliers win, there are going to be two sets of winners — what we call specialists and granulists,” he said. “We are going to see retailers kind of gravitating to one or the other. A specialist is really where you have fewer categories but a very deep assortment, where you are focused in winning in a specific type of business. … [Granulists are] very specialized in their range of categories, but [have] deep expertise and great execution in those categories they choose to play in.”

Preller also outlined a set a capabilities — or the “four horsemen of polarization” as he referred to them — that will be important for “specialists” and “granulists” going forward: Managing multi-generations, urban America, multicultural America and the have/have not’s of America.

Closing out the program, the speakers reconvened for a panel discussion on trends and issues in shopper marketing around the world. Hoyt of the Path to Purchase Institute and Gwen Morrison, co-CEO of The Store, WPP’s Global Retail Practice, moderated the discussion.

“As a global team, what we try to give to the market is what we call ‘assets,’” Unilever’s Watson said when asked how she looks at shopper marketing across the various retail markets and different countries in which her company’s brands compete. “You see Dove and you recognize it, it has the same core equity. And what we do in the global channel is to make sure that we provide those core equities to the markets, and we provide design for in-store materials, and provide toolkits for tone of voice. … Be true to the core equity. Be really clear about the toolkit in its use, and put it in the right market context to meet the shopper need and to meet the channel need.”

One key question — how do you measure effective shopper marketing efforts in different countries? What’s the common metric?
“We spend a lot of time talking to retailers in the various markets and the single-biggest frustration for retailers is the marketing not being measured effectively, “ Kantar’s Preller noted. “I think it’s a mix of data availability and practicality that is going to define that, and we find that it’s very different in different markets.”

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Which area of the industry do you think Amazon's entry would shake up the most?