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How Shopper Marketers Find Their Voice and Get a Seat at the Table

How to get your Shopper Marketing to be Heard and Valued

If you lead a shopper marketing team in today's CPG enterprise, you are most certainly familiar with the identity crisis this position comes with. 

You realize the strategic potential of Shopper Marketing, but you see how your organization just doesn't "get" it. You and your team work super hard to launch a myriad of complex shopper campaigns, but for most of your cross-functional peers shopper marketing is still a "black hole". You see how shoppers get more and more empowered through the use of technology, but you see your shopper marketing budgets shrink and your team headcount dwindles down. 

How do you find your voice in the fast changing world of CPG, Retail and Tech? What can you do to win back a seat at the table where key decisions are made?



1. Tell The Story Of What And Why You Do

Have you been asked “The ROI question” too much lately? You are not alone. Shopper marketers are losing sleep trying to measure their spend efficiencies and validate their investment decisions. The quest for a “holy grail of ROI” is a tough one, and ROI does need to be measured. However, if you stop to consider the meaning behind this question, what they are asking for is reassurance: 

  • “Help me gain trust in you and your team.”

  • “Help me understand what you are all working on.”

  • “Help me see the value your team creates along the value chain.” 

These are softer, less rigid questions, and one way to answer them and build trust with the cross-functional partners is to showcase your team’s work. Its sheer scope, the complexity of your shopper marketing programs, the strategic insights behind the shopper marketing investments, the amazing creative work that your shopper agency does for you.

Great things happen when you open up your books and foster transparency.  Our client, Craig Bilow, is a master at demonstrating how shopper marketing is spending brand dollars with their retail customers. He does it often, with complete transparency, and with ease. The trust he built with his internal stakeholders allowed him to gain clout and see his budgets grow every year.

Read our Case Study with Riviana Foods to learn more about how Bilow is using Shopperations to give shopper marketing a stronger voice.

2. Anticipate The Questions And Proactively Answer Them

Without doubt, much of a shopper marketers’ time is spent answering questions for other stakeholders. These can range from basic requests like “What is the ratio of working vs. non-working dollars in your budget?”  or “How will new product launches be supported by national programming and via customer-specific shopper marketing activities?” to more sophisticated ones like “What shopper marketing programs drive best retail execution and incremental sales?”

Every time a stakeholder from a different area of the business asks a question that you as a shopper marketing cannot answer immediately, you lose not only precious time to complete the manual fire drill exercise, you lose your credibility and voice. What can be worse than not knowing your numbers in today's data-driven world?

Don't wait for the next fire drill, rather proactively anticipate future questions and develop a solid planning and reporting framework that can be pivoted to serve many internal stakeholders with minimal efforts. Share your team's plans and achievements regularly via email newsletters or webcast presentations with Brands, Sales and other marketing functions to shine the light on all the awesome and important work that Shopper Marketing does.

3. Tag Shopper Marketing Programs With Company'S Strategic Goals

Most companies cascade the goals and performance objectives from the top of the organization down to the middle management, and all the way to the individual contributors. It's not enough to proclaim these goals in your performance measurement plan, you should be able to demonstrate how every dollar you spend in your Shopper Marketing budget tackles these goals. The easiest way to do it is to codify the corporate goals and initiatives and tag each program and tactic to illustrate their contribution to the company's top goals. 

Next time anyone dares to wonder out loud how your team creates value, you will be ready with a precise, detailed report on how you channel company's resources to support its key initiatives.

4. Be the Expert in Areas That the Business is Just Learning

Because of its ambiguous and dynamic nature, shopper marketing gets dragged into many conversations about emerging marketing capabilities. Whether it be e-commerce, the new role of search marketing, the challenges of retail media, or new approaches in marketing analytics, shopper marketing has the credibility and the permission to initiate and lead these conversations.

Do you have bandwidth, expertise and passion for learning and evangelizing all of these new emerging capabilities? You better. While you can't possibly become a deep expert in each emerging technology, you have to stay on top of the key trends and know enough to formulate a strategic stance to help your organization learn and adapt to new realities.

Doing so shifts the position of shopper marketing from mere tactical executioner to a strategic consultant, strengthening your voice and influence within the organization. When your leadership or cross functional partners come to you and ask, “what are we doing with Ibotta?” you want to know what and why, without hesitation.

If we are being honest, the reason that shopper marketing loses its voice is that we are busy reacting to constant fire drills and serving our internal partners' needs,  rarely taking the time to illustrate the strategic value we create. While this makes us a dependable resource, it does not get us a seat a the table.

Shopperations takes some of the day-to-day manual management of planning, budgeting and reconciliation off of the shoulders of shopper marketers. This makes it easier to collaborate across business areas, be more prepared to answer questions, and bring transparency to the importance and impact of shopper marketing. Schedule a call today and let Shopperations help find your Shopper Marketing voice.


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After more than 15 years in Consumer Packaged Goods industry, I became a software entrepreneur. Today, I design and sell Shopperations, a web-based, collaborative planning software for Marketers on both CPG and Retail sides, to enable transparency, accountability and stronger Shopper Marketing promotional analytics. I am passionate about all things Retail and Shopper Marketing, love reading about Neuroscience progress as it relates to shopper research, and care about process improvement and marketing automation technology.
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