Reaching Maturity – Frank Wainwright

This year’s FMBE awards has seen signs that we are maturing as an industry. The entry and judging process has been an illuminating one. These are the four main discoveries.

1.  Our industry prides itself on being a ‘people’ business but for many years agencies have looked like employers, rather than specialist, outstanding employers. The awards have witnessed far more field team feedback, work happiness questionnaires, life-balance structures and mental healthcare being given equal priority with physical. Staff retention data is clearly on the up, and with that has come contract extension and renewal.

2.  Our industry also prides itself on knowing the shopper mindset but our media spaces have always offered something more complex than “shopper.” One upside of the gloomy challenges to retail has been a more holistic view of shoppers who travel to retail spaces for leisure, health, entertainment and education as much as for shopping. This in turn means that media space owners, property landlords, have matured their visitor profiling and can now inform brands about connecting with their visitors on multiple levels. The recent advent of Samsung KX in Coal Drops Yard shows a brand that has been enabled by location to showcase lifestyle, and we should expect more brands to be facilitated to follow in the months ahead.

3.  Brand demonstration has reached a new level of expertise. The consumer electronics sector is leading the way here, as it should do, and ideas gleaned from the big shows in Las Vegas and Barcelona have now filtered through to shopping centres, stores and high street. As an industry FMBE is uniquely placed to facilitate that. We have a much stronger cross over now between what were traditionally field marketing and brand experience agencies, with in store demos gaining from a brand experience makeover and brand experience stands equipped with more accountability and sales savvy staff. The health and beauty sector is next in line.

4.  In FMCG we are also maturing in terms of the trust between retailers and the FMBE teams. Increasingly store visits are carried out by field teams who have been informed about the emotional connections of the brand and can use their knowledge to negotiate successful long-term deals. Equally retailers are more aware of the value of extending their brand messaging to events, putting their trust in brand experience teams to deliver their messaging at exterior events.


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