Are Influencers The Missing Piece to Shopper Marketing?

These days, it's safe to say there is no "offline" for most consumers. Digital and social have permeated society to where it's a mere click or swipe away at virtually any time. Like every aspect of business, shopper marketing has had to evolve with the pervasion of digital. Part of this evolvement includes today's consumers being less interested in advertisements telling them why they should buy a product and more interested in hearing why their peers are glad they did. Shopper marketing is at the forefront of this attitude shift. Let's examine the evolution of shopper marketing by looking at social and digital promotion tools available, as well as influential shoppers.

Coupons have never been a more important promotion, but there's a twist.
Before shopper marketing was called shopper marketing, it was "sales promotion". While coupons may be an age-old promotion tactic, they are still effective, particularly with newer value-conscious generations. A recent study by Forrester Research revealed that 34 percent of Millennials prefer digital coupons loaded on their smartphones over paper coupons. This growing desire for paperless options means they should be accessible to shoppers in multiple places, including on a brand's digital app, social channels and website. Partnering with influencers to get your coupon in front of the eyes of their audience can serve as an incredibly effective content tool and move shoppers to make in-store purchases. We executed two recent influencer marketing campaigns, one in beauty and the other in the food category, that reported astounding redemption rates on their digital coupon offerings. Showcasing relevant content had readers salivating to try the product and the coupon was just icing on the cake.

A marriage of content and shopper marketing makes for a happy mobile shopper.
Shopper insights remain a central pillar of shopper marketing. As such, last year Deloitte revealed that approximately $970 billion in sales were influenced by shoppers' use of mobile devices before and during in-store shopping. (That represents over a quarter of total in-store sales!) Shoppers are using their mobile devices for price checking, product information and reviews and more.

Now, think about this: which is more likely to influence the purchase of a product while someone is searching on their phone? Some copy and photos written by the brand about the brand, or an entertaining story by an everyday shopper using the product in their everyday life? If you went with the first option, you're missing a massive opportunity to let shoppers see the product through the eyes of another shopper. We inherently trust people like us; why should that be any different with shopper marketing endeavors?

Overcome in-store placement issues with social media.
For brands trying to reach shoppers outside of their typical target audiences, in-store placement can make or break this interaction. Let's look at this concept through the lens of an emerging shopper trend. Over 73 percent of U.S. consumers now use Mexican food and ingredients. Brands wanting to leverage this insight may be at a disadvantage based on their in-store location. For example, we worked with an authentic hot sauce brand imported from Mexico that desired to reach shoppers outside of its typical audience. However, because the brand was typically placed on the ethnic food aisle at most U.S. retailers, they didn't have the same in-store visibility as American hot sauce companies like Tabasco and Frank's Red Hot found on the condiments aisle.

To overcome this, the brand took to the best place to communicate with shoppers in a quick and clear manner: social media. The brand partnered with influential shoppers who communicated to consumers through blog and social posts exactly where to find the products at retailers, complete with signaling photos. Every single influencer post was specific to a retailer/region and the existing flavor sets and available products at that retailer. This meant that in addition to pointing consumers to the in-store location, influencers also directed consumers to which retailer had which incremental flavor beyond their well-known core flavors, a critical component of the brand's retailer-specific shopper strategy.

Final note: If shopper marketing is defined as "bringing shoppers into the marketing plan and the marketing plan into the stores," then why not amplify it through the most influential shoppers available today? Social influencers can help your brand tell a truly holistic story - through their authentic and trusted voice. Few other marketing components can move shoppers from the point of discovery to the checkout line. Isn't it time your brand started marketing to shoppers... through shoppers?