Guest blog: Activating Activation- Danielle Pinnington, MD at Shoppercentric

Danielle Pinnington, MD at Shoppercentric, explores grocery trends using findings from their latest research 

Over the last 12 months the big four retailers have all signalled a desire to prioritise EDLP over Hi-Lo, which means promotional activity in-store is likely to fall back from the rather chaotic peak of the last few years.
For shoppers this is likely to be something of a relief, as it means less clutter to wade through or consider before making a purchase. For brand manufacturers, on the other hand, this could be less than good news if it limits the potential for brand activation in-store, or increases the likelihood of retailers selling packaged options – “if you want an FSDU you’ll also need to pay for…”
It seems to us that in these circumstances, having confidence that the activations being planned will be as effective as possible will become even more of an imperative for our clients. Of course much can be learnt from past sales data in terms of which campaigns seemed to have the desired effect on shoppers. But unless controlled tests have been implemented, sales data can’t tell us which elements of a campaign are driving the successes or failures, so whether the header, or the fin or the FSDU of any particular campaign were worth investing in or not!
Including the shopper perspective in the key performance data, to complement the sales story, can provide this additional layer of understanding: enabling businesses to make important decisions as to which messages and POS are essential for a campaign to work and what is, quite frankly, unnecessary clutter.
We regularly run programmes for clients to support their activation programmes, helping them get to a greater understanding of the best practice principles that can improve the design briefing process for future campaigns. It isn’t rocket science as it simply involves observing and talking to shoppers, and it’s amazing what you can learn – both in planning a campaign and in evaluating its success:
Firstly, from a planning point of view, there should be a clear understanding of the target shoppers the activation is looking to influence:
• Where do they shop?
• How do they shop there (what are the shopper missions)?
• What’s the purchase journey and therefore where are the most relevant touchpoints – in and out of store?
• Are they frequent shoppers of the category?
• Are they loyal (to you or your competitors) or repertoire shoppers?
These macro-level shopper insights are easily reached via on-line research, so can be accessed without having to show your cards too early by seeking permissions for in store research. And, armed with these insights, it’s possible to set clear guidelines in the brief regarding:
• The degree to which activation needs to drive consideration of the category vs the brand – which can inform the communication hierarchy as well as POS placement
• The appropriate environments for future brand building activation, and how to tailor brand building communication to fit the channels in which the activation will roll out
From an evaluation point of view, the sales data should be supported with insights that help businesses understand whether the campaign is: impactful; relevant (which, incidentally, can impact on its noticeability!); and inviting the appropriate response.

The kinds of methodologies that can be utilised include:
• Observing shopper behaviour – perhaps using eye-tracking technology to observe their visual behaviour
o To gauge whether or not shoppers are aware of the campaign as it competes with the visual noise in store
o To work out which elements of the campaign POS is attracting lots of vs. no attention – thereby providing a clear perspective on which elements are surplus to requirements
• Talking to shoppers
o To get a clear view of awareness of the materials
o To capture their take-out from the communication – whether it hits the mark, whether it motivates the desired change in behaviour or attitude
o To identify what elements of the communication is driving behaviour or attitudinal change
Based on the above insights improvements can be identified and shared with the business in order to generate best practice principles going forward, and better identify the opportunity / cost balance for future activations.
It goes without saying that better informed businesses achieve more effective and efficient activation. As one satisfied client put it: “we wouldn’t want to be seen investing in mechanics where we have seen evidence of them not working and where we can execute a really brilliant, impactful campaign which is more cost effective and in line with brand strategy” (Shopper Marketing Manager). Enough said.

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