Our industry has been chasing elusive shopper marketing metrics for over a decade, but these efforts seem to be stuck in first gear. Despite an explosion of shopper-facing technology, a growing abundance of shopper-generated data, and increased sophistication of advanced analytical methods, we still have a fundamental identity problem that drives confusion about metrics and methods.
Pick Your Mission
One of the reasons shopper marketers struggle with identity is because the function falls in between two old and powerful disciplines: Marketing and Sales. The tension this creates is very powerful, and carving your identity outside of these two domains seems almost impossible, especially if your shopper marketing organization reports into one of them. I used to naively believe that the reporting structure didn’t matter as long as three things were in place:
- a clearly defined shopper marketing mission
- an appropriately staffed team
- unambiguous shopper marketing spending principles
However, the empirical evidence shows that the reporting structure still plays an important role in how shopper marketing teams view themselves and what types of activities and metrics they value and prioritize.
Marketing-aligned shopper marketing teams
tend to see themselves as the extension of the brand teams whose primary job is to better understand shopper-generated data, uncover and activate shopper insights, know the latest trends in retail media and optimize shopper-to-buyer conversion. They tend to focus on traditional marketing and shopper funnel metrics, such as:
- Market share
- Brand equity scores
- Trial/repeat and buy rate
- Shopper’s lifetime value
- Cost per impression (CPI) for various shopper marketing tactics and media buys
- Tactic conversion rates
- Overall shopper marketing performance as part of Marketing Mix Analysis
Sales-aligned shopper marketing teams,
on the other hand, recognize the tremendous role retailers play in today’s brand success. Above the traditional marketing metrics, these teams value retail customer engagement and put the focus on co-creation, JBP and strategic top-to-top relationships. While these metrics may sound “soft” and harder to measure, I challenge you to look deeper. The best way to tell whether your strategic co-creation initiatives are paying off is to track:
- Number and size of programs presented and sold into retail accounts
- Incremental quality merchandising support (feature & display) shopper-driven programs get vs. customer-driven pure price promotions
- Number of times your team was invited to participate in long-term, strategic retailer-driven projects, such as aisle reinvention initiatives vs. your competition
- Retail account penetration depth and quality
- Kantar PoweRanking benchmarking results
- Overall event performance as part of Trade Promotion Optimization initiatives (The main assumption here is that by leveraging shopper insights and bringing shopper solutions, you reduce reliance on deep discounting)
Best of Both Worlds?
We see most shopper marketing organizations incentivising their shopper marketing teams by charging them to deliver net sales and profit numbers. While it’s a great way to align the incentives between sales, marketing and shopper marketing, these KPIs are not nuanced enough and don’t provide enough insight into “how” to achieve these goals.
Because your team’s time is precious and the political capital they can expense to “go against the flow” is limited, think hard about what KPIs you want to assign them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Get real about where your shopper marketing team belongs. By making it clear whose efforts you align more closely with, you help your team prioritize and focus their work.
- Pick no more than 3 fundamental KPIs that will apply across all programs, brands and customer accounts. Pick more than that, and you run the risk of burnout or non-compliance. Consider the “Crawl-Walk-Run” framework to ease your team into the idea of tracking KPIs. Consistency is better than quantity.
- If your shopper marketing team is more closely aligned with and reports into marketing, don’t discount “quality merch” metrics. Think of Feature and Display as the two most powerful retail media levers. More eyeballs will see retailers’ circular ads and more feet will walk past your brands’ in-store displays than ever possible for any TV, digital or outdoor advertising. Figure out ways to impact, quantify and capture F&D CPI.
- If your team is more closely aligned with or reports into sales, take time to understand your company’s marketing analytics process and how your shopper marketing efforts fit into it. Demand that shopper marketing spend data is included into marketing mix analysis because, if done right, shopper marketing consistently shows higher ROI than traditional media.
How does your team think about their mission, methods and metrics? What KPIs come naturally and what are still considered “fringe?” What were some of the most effective KPI tracking initiatives and why? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.