Interview: Addressing the challenges at retail

Leanne 1With spend patterns changing and consumer budgets squeezed, Fieldmarketing wanted to learn more about the shape of retail and shopper experiences. We put the questions to Leanne Nutter, Retail & Brand Director at Blackjack Promotions.

What challenges faced retail marketing in 2022?

Just as retail was getting back on its feet, 2022 presented more challenges. Supply chain issues, economic uncertainty, rising inflation and labour shortages all hit retail at a time when it was still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.

However, despite experiencing all these external factors, we did see brands invest in their marketing.

We successfully executed a variety of activations; a demonstration of the fact that when consumers face financial challenge and are more thoughtful about spending, brand engagement is more important than ever.

Do you think 2023 will be harder or easier for retailers?

Challenges will continue but I also believe retail marketing will be really exciting in the coming year. Shopping behaviour is more omni-channel now than it has ever been which presents the need for a consistent and considered brand experience across channels and very clear understanding of execution between brand and retailer. In the travel retail space it is the trinity approach between ‘brand, retailer and airport’. It is even more multi layered, but also crucial to getting it right.

Changing consumer behaviour is also fuelling innovation, which is accelerating new product development. It’s our job to get those brands and product launches into the consumers mindset and that requires strong, effective retail marketing. So while this year will continue to present challenges, there are also real opportunities.

What are the main staff challenges ahead?

We are still experiencing a global labour shortage with Brexit impacting the UK enormously in terms of retail and field marketing. At the same time, pay demands continue to be a barrier and while many brands and retailers want to be London Living Wage employers, the cost to achieve this is heavy.

On top of the financial issues that many industries are facing when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, retail is also having to fight for its place as a career option since many people no longer consider it a stable pathway. The industry must work on educating future talent of the opportunities that retail has to offer, one being that you can learn from the ground up.

We are seeing businesses from a range of sectors looking at new ways to meet staffing needs, and demand for Blackjack Promotions solutions has never been higher. The agility and adaptability of what we do is attractive in the current climate, and so we believe there will be a step change in the traditional recruitment processes.

What are the budget challenges facing retail marketers?

The budget challenges will be significantly harder for retailers in the physical space because of external factors such as inflation, increasing energy costs and rising staff costs.

There is also the increasing demand for more experience led retail which will need consideration. Technological advances present opportunities to create more immersive experiences in the physical world however, they come at a price. So 2023 will be about striking a balance between budget restraints and the need to stay front of mind.

What are the opportunities? – for brands at retail? for retailers?

Brands should consider the virtual space particularly when it comes to representation from brand ambassadors. An increasing number of shoppers are buying online from a variety of platforms, for example, TikTok stores, and so ensuring the virtual assistant is knowledgeable and engaging is essential. A chat-bot won’t cut it anymore. This is where a ‘phygital’ blend comes into play too. Blending virtual worlds with physical real-life would be incredibly powerful and potentially more economical.

In the real world, shoppers are craving experiences, retailtainment’ to deliver something immersive and memorable, exceeding what can be achieved online.

What should retailers and retail brands be doing to increase levels of shopper engagement?

Aligning marketing objectives with the use of digital technologies and providing a seamless brand experience from the virtual world to the physical world.

Personalisation and sharing data (where permitted) are key to tailoring experiences to the buyer. Consumers have a level of expectation now and experiencing something personalised is not just a nice to have. Offering a level of entertainment will draw people in and engage a brand with shoppers further.

We saw this first-hand throughout December when we worked with World Duty Free to deliver a campaign that focused on customer experience.


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