Retail Alchemy: Autumn 2017 – Field Sales: A Cinderella story

Rhys Jones – Retail Alchemy

For any organisation, the decision about how to spend its marketing budget is often one that favours the more ‘high profile’ Above the Line (ATL) and Digital forms of marketing. Much like Cinderella, Field Sales and less visible in-store forms of marketing are often either ignored completely or left to be much more of an after-thought or ‘necessary evil’.

After all, the value that field sales interventions generate is often poorly understood in comparison to it’s ATL and Digital counterparts. In our organisation, thanks to the extremely varied marketing effectiveness briefs we get from our clients, we do not have that problem, and can therefore compare and contrast the impact ATL and Digital forms of marketing make versus Field Sales on a like for like basis.

Given the sometimes enormous differences in spend between the various channels, the results somewhat surprised us: Field Sales interventions are as, if not sometimes more, effective than more traditional/heavier favoured forms of ATL and Digital marketing:

This may seem surprising at first, but if you dig deeper and think about the role each channel plays in the consumer journey, the results make sense. For FMCG in particular, the role of ATL seems to be very much one of generating initial consumer interest in a product: consumers very much have a ‘need’ for a product, and ATL makes them aware of an alternative brand and encourages them to head to store to try it. Likewise, given that most FMCG products are still bought in-store rather than online, Digital marketing, and in particular Digital Display, again fulfils a version of this change in the consumers awareness or consideration set.

However, as is often the case with the point of purchase in retail, this is where things start to go wrong. Quiet often, if the basics in terms of ranging, stocking and display in store aren’t done correctly, then the consumer will either fail to locate the product they initially wanted and not buy, or worse still, buy an alternative competitor product that was there when the visited the store. The bottom line: brands can spend as much money as they like driving consumers to store through their ATL and Digital activity, but if the product isn’t there or isn’t easy to locate then that money has either been wasted or worse yet, increased the sales of competitors who are ranged in store.

Note that we aren’t saying brands should switch to entirely field based marketing: rather that marketers should, much like in the story of Cinderella, stop ignoring the vital role field interventions make in the overall marketing mix. After all, a well diversified marketing strategy that sees the work of the field team complimented by increased footfall to store through strong ATL and Digital marketing can only pay dividends.