Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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Media planning relies on two main approaches for shaping media strategy:

  • Media habits approach: How does a marketer’s target consumer spend time with media and specifically, which media properties are “target rich” environments?  For example, online publishers often use a media habits argument to explain why they should get a share of ad dollars that is closer to share of media time.
  • Touchpoints influence approach: Services like Integration or Compose are centered on self-reported approaches to prioritize which brand communication touchpoints influence someone’s brand choice regarding a particular type of product/service or in conveying a certain brand benefit.

Let me add a third approach to the mix that comes from the field of shopper insights that would have a big impact on the allocation of media spending.

  • “Path to purchase” approach:  Understand the journey by which shoppers come to buy a particular brand, product, or service.  Did they decide before or after entering the store? Did they do research as they started their shopping process? How did they research their purchase?  What are the media touchpoints that best map to each leverage point in the path to purchase process?

Understanding “Path to Purchase” will change marketing and media priorities.  In most cases, it is likely to increase the budget for search, comparison shopping, and particularly in-store shopper marketing vs. using a media habits approach because those places don’t have a big share of media time but they are where the “lean-forward” action is.  Shopper insights research shows that, for many products, 50% or more of purchases and brand choices are decided on right in the store.  For such products, to put it in terms that media planners can relate to, shopper marketing is like recency on steroids.

The touchpoints influence approach might miss the mapping of a touchpoint to a brand objective.  Brand teams should have two broad classes of communication goals: creating and maintaining desired brand meaning, and reminding people of the brand as close to the decision point as possible (recency). If different touchpoints best map to specific marketing goals, the logical implication is that impressions and “reach points” across media platforms are not interchangeable or additive; this suggests that multi-platform reach calculations, a main purpose of media habits studies, become more of a media insight than a quantitative measure needed for creating a media plan.

A more important media calculation might be to create meaningful recency and  “likelihood to see/hear”  (LTS)factors for different media.  For example, in comparing TV to shopper marketing, TV might have a higher LTS factor (20 or so commercials in a show vs. 40,000 SKUs in a grocery store) but a lower recency factor vs. advertising that is right at the point of purchase.  Hypothetically, cinema advertising might have the highest LTS of all touchpoints (you’re sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start) but a really low recency factor.  However, the recency factor itself might be less important when marketing’s main objective is “imparting brand meaning” (say during the launch of a brand).

To address these issues of how to begin integrating shopper marketing and off-premise advertising into a well-informed media strategy, on August 20th, the upcoming ARF Shopper Insights council will bring together gurus from their respective worlds who have not been on the same panel before to discuss this issue.

  • Herb Sorensen –  Ph.D., Global Scientific Director, Shopper Insights TNS-Sorensen Associates (legendary shopper guru)
  • Erwin Ephron – Partner, The Ephron Consultancy (father of recency)
  • Paul Donato – EVP, CRO, The Nielsen Company (media industry leader)
  • Mike Hess – Director of Research, Carat Insight (branding, shopping, and media expert)

ARF members can register for this event at no charge by going to MyARF.  For those who can’t make it, I’ll report back via this blog on what should be an amazing and long-overdue discussion.

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7 Responses to “Shopper “path to purchase”: a new approach to media planning?”

  1. Dead on!

    Solving the shopper path to purchase equation from a media point of view is Shopper Marketing 2.0.

    In May ClientOne introduced the Shopper Marketing Lab Understanding the Layered Influences on the Shopper Path to Purchase at PMA Shopper Marketing Summit. You can view the presentation:

    This week we published a white paper Shopper Marketing 2.0. Re-printed for ARF courtesy ClientOne.

    The Shopper Marketing Lab
    Micro Shopper Insights in Store Trade Areas for Marketers

    Shopper Marketing 2.0
    Micro Shopper Insights (No POS Required)

    The Shopper Marketing Lab introduces Micro Shopper Insights no POS required.

    Unveiled at PMA Shopper Marketing Summit May 2009, as Shopper Marketing 2.0. Micro Shopper Insights are a next gen innovation enabling marketers to infuse shopper marketing to their CPR/Retail go-to-market strategies.

    Local shopper behaviors from national panels form the basis of a new micro targeting solution. National respondents in store trade areas yield insights to brand, private label and category expenditures with competitive shop for every shopper household.

    Shopper data and 1,000+ shopper elements are modeled to estimate non-respondent shopper panel values in store trade areas. Shopper purchase activity is projected to the remaining shopper households creating statistically significant values updated monthly.

    Shoppers Marketing 2.0 improves marketer access to shopper insights by replacing POS with panel data, statistical models and best practice marketing science methods.

    An elegant solution for marketers.

    Shopper panels re-presented as Micro Shopper Insights for actionable marketing.

    The importance of this development requires distinguishing national panel data from micro shopper insight. An appreciation for the depth and quality of tools available to differentiate, and serve shoppers for competitive advantage is also necessary.

    Modeled shopper panel data transform store trade areas into a shopper marketing labs. Each shopper household marked with brand, private label, category spending; enhanced with media preference to clarify how shoppers inform their purchase decision.

    Household composite data such as age, income, occupation, marital status, presence of children, other adults in household, lifestyle and interests, etc. detail drivers of shopper consumption. Competitive shop completes the view how shoppers live, work and play.

    Know where to invest trade expenditures based on shopper behaviors.

    How shoppers behave inform what business should do with their marketing dollars.

    Understanding the layered media influences on the shopper path to purchase is the new shopper marketing mantra. Analyze in-store, in-home and in-market media influences against shoppers and targeted purchase activity.

    Establish shopper benchmarks for brand, private label; category and store share. Create scorecards in store trade areas to measure incremental brand spending, profitability and share gains vis-à-vis a category or the competition. Plan, execute and measure tests for unprecedented shopper marketing program accountability.

    Now for the first time marketers can shape shopper engagement strategies by driving profitable brand, private label and store sales growth with pinpoint accuracy.

    A revolutionary 3600 view to shopper households in a store trade area marked with brand, category and media consumption without point of sale (POS) data.

    Not a panel, or survey sample set, 100% of households in store trade areas marked by four key shopper characteristics: brand spending, category spending, media preference/ usage and household composition. All key shopper demand drivers of brand sales.

    Execute local shopper engagement in store trade areas.

    Marketers can trial trade expenditures at the lowest level of measurement, the shopper household. Armed with shopper brand, category and media preference marketers can tailor shopper engagement to shopper opportunity for every household in a store trade area e.g. micro shopper household. Data can be analyzed by marketers then acted upon improving sales growth and efficiency by locale.

    Engage with precision to drive incremental sales or reduce incremental spend.

    A micro-level household solution shift shopper engagement to marketers seeking new modes to reach brand shoppers. Start by developing a complete shopper composite profile powered by the industry’s best information and technology sources. Then develop shopper marketing programs with laser precision for unparalleled trade promotion accountability, performance and results.

    How it works.

    Math estimates for brand, category, media and competitive shop are calculated at the shopper household level, so you can see micro shopper differences in store trade areas. Market research reveals micro shopper insights marketers quantify the opportunity, plan, execute and measure strategy at the micro shopper household level. Eliminating the opportunity cost between research and marketing. Shopper marketing measured in promotional periods and over time for sustained shopper engagement.

    Privacy concerns.

    Privacy concerns are not markedly different for shopper panels and surveys used for similar purposes. It may be closer to loyalty card marketing. Though loyalty card data fall short capturing 100% of shoppers in store trade areas. Industry figures are closer to 60% for those actively participating in loyalty programs.

    Shopper loyalty data, custom shopper segmentation and market research all contribute to shopper understanding. These data can be incorporated to micro shopper insights to clarify shopper motivations, store share of brands and category in store trade areas.

    I’d be delighted to collaborate with Joel, Herb etc. on this initiative.

    Kind regards,

    Dave Katz
    Architect, Shopper Marketing Lab
    Developer, Micro Shopper Insights

  2. Interesting stuff Joel.

  3. Thank you – this post has been incredibly valuable.

  4. Given your recency position, would seem that mobile (WAP and Apps) could and should be crucial for bridging the gap between decisions made out of the store and in.

    • joel rubinson

      I agree that mobile has tremendous potential to bring access to information, brand communications, etc. right into the store and to the point of purchase. Again, probably the importance of mobile in the shopping process will transcend its share of minutes for media viewing.

  5. Ginger Setser

    Thank you for your post. It was very relevant and valuable information. What is your position on the effectiveness of utilizing social media sites and geo targeted google ads/digital FSI network ads to drive traffic to specific retailers (not online retailers)for specific Brands?

    • Joel Rubinson

      first, let me say I am intuiting these answers, as I don’t have a database of specific marketing ROI modeling results. About digital FSI networks, at our last ARF shopper insights council, Nielsen mentioned that digital coupon sites are growing like crazy and the assumption is that coupons will be more and more paperless. Furthermore, I know that a lot of planned purchases are based on people having coupons rather than strong brand loyalty. so digital FSI-s good idea. Geo-targeted ads will depend a little more on how people shop but Comscore has showed sales lift on packaged goods based on display and paid search.
      About social media, I think it depends on the brand’s graph. If you’re a local retailer and people follow you on twitter, that is a great way to drive traffic. Social media display advertising is probably more variable in its results. Social media fan pages might be effective if you can amass enough fans (then invite them to a retail event, for example.)