If you’re in the advertising technology space, you could attend a conference focused on mobile/video/data/programmatic any given week. We all know the usual suspects and there are a myriad of reasons why our presence at these conferences is important to our business. Although the content can often be a bit stale (it’s the year of mobile, right?), these events keep us connected to the pulse of our business as well as to the people we’ve grown up with throughout our time in digital.

This past October, Liquid (now PCH/Media) decided to step out of our conference comfort zone and embark on a new adventure, where we gathered valuable new insights into the world of shopper marketing.

Shopper Marketing Shift

We sent a small army to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend the Shopper Marketing Expo. Our group was equipped with a basketball hoop, two “big checks,” and positioning that spoke to our ability to help marketers reach high-intent shoppers most likely to buy their products.

For those of you not familiar with Shopper Marketing, the category focuses on the ability to understand and influence a shopper’s behavior to make a sale and build a relationship. I originally believed shopper marketing to be limited to in-store, but the rise of digital has certainly changed this common assumption. Shopper Marketing includes in-store marketing activities, but also display banners that promote e-commerce or geo-targeted mobile banners that influence the products you buy when you’re in close proximity of a given retailer.

Challenges and Trends

As much as our team was at the conference to exchange business cards and introduce Liquid to the market, we were also there to simply listen and learn. None of the content was stale for the Liquid group as we learned about the challenges brands are facing as shoppers are empowered with so many options.

Here are a few of the major trends we heard from people we met:

  • The adoption of digital usage is converging shopper marketing and media budgets: Agency teams outside of shopper marketing agencies usually oversaw the media budgets. However, when a user is in-store and sends a push notification to enjoy 20% off a product…is this media or shopper marketing? The answer is both as the two worlds collide.
  • The value of data: More and more CPG brands are relying on data to find the right context to reach the consumer. Smart uses of data increase brand relevancy and the right type of data will connect brands with their audiences. While many brands we talked to had access to their own first-party data, many were not taking advantage of it to better reach their consumers. In addition, many brands were just starting to explore the data available to them through various sources and trying to determine how best to use it. There is a lot of potential here!
  • In order for a shopper to come back to a store, you need an experience that is enjoyable and memorable. That’s where shopper marketing and various touch points come in. Touch points influence the shopper at every step of their path to purchase (pre-store, in-store, and post-store). How do we reach a consumer across each touch point to maximize the shopper’s experience and influence them to come back to that retailer (whether in-store or online)?

There were a variety of sessions hosted by some big brands and agencies.  We loved the Hershey presentation (especially thanks to the bags of chocolate on every seat as the Hershey team “wanted to end the session with ‘Kisses’ not ‘Snickers…’”).

Hershey discussed the general trends they were seeing at a macro level and how their shopper marketing strategy needed to shift to accommodate these changes. Retailer trips are down, shopper loyalty is as fragmented as ever, and e-commerce is up and here to stay…hence more money pouring into digital and mobile advertising. It’s important not just to understand who is buying candy, but also what is the best way to reach them. 

Hershey is looking for insights they don’t currently have today, and it seems that the company who can provide them will get a chunk of their shopper marketing budgets in 2016.

The Next Frontier of Fresh Shopper Insights

The Shopper Marketing Expo was Liquid’s first foray into the world of shopper marketing. Our three days in Minneapolis validated our belief that Liquid’s first-party purchase data can help influence a shopper’s behavior and equip brands with unique insights not available to them today. 

You’ll see us at the next mobile/video/data/programmatic conference, but you can also be sure that Team Liquid will be a familiar presence at shopper marketing conferences in 2016.