Start with the shopper, not the technology

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Anthony Hopper, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi X UK discusses the role of digital media in shopper marketing.

It seems like we’ve been talking about digital for a long time now and yet there’s still confusion around its role in marketing communications. Lately we’re hearing a lot of debate around digital and technology in relation to shopper marketing.

Our view is simple – shoppers, like consumers, are ever more reliant on digital channels, media and tools. They are using them every day and are jumping between on and offline worlds without even giving it another thought. For them, it’s just the way it is. At Saatchi & Saatchi X, we’re referring to them as the “Noline shopper”.

For us, digital represents another opportunity to communicate with shoppers, another way to overcome purchase barriers. It’s about inspiring buying momentum, not socializing equity. Which is why we still start with the Shopper, not the technology. We don’t see it as a new form of shopper marketing, but shopper marketing with new tools.

New behaviours

New technologies and channels emerge every day and people, not brands, are quickly finding out the best ways to use them. The exponential spread of smartphones means consumers are using their mobile device for far more than just sending texts and making calls. For example, if you use your phone to log onto location-based network Foursquare every time you’re in Starbucks, you might be lucky enough to become the Mayor and demand free coffee.
Similarly the meteoric rise in the use of social media has reshaped the way we interact with the people around us. And it’s having a big impact on the way we interact with brands and products.

A recent report on Social Media by GDR suggested that of the over half of respondents have accessed brand communities on social networks and that the highest motivations for joining were ’to learn’ (78.6%) and ’to gain advance news on products’ (76.1%). Of those who joined brand communities, 71% were more likely to purchase and 63% recommended others to join.

The power of these social communities is now such that they have the power to influence brand and product strategies. For example, Asda consulted Mumsnet, which attracts over 1million unique visits a month, to give advice on products they were planning to sell to young girls.

Searching, shopping and sharing

Generally, we’re finding that shoppers are using digital tools to facilitate searching, shopping or sharing. That is, they are searching for a product, solution or store, they are actually using the technology to shop, whether in an online or bricks and mortar store, or they are sharing their product, brand and shopping experiences.

Therefore we find that we are looking at digital solutions that help people find what they’re looking for quicker and more effectively. We are improving the actual shopping experience through education, inspiration and offers and we are helping facilitate discussion and sharing it with others.

At Saatchi & Saatchi X, we’re already seeing a significant proportion of our revenues switching to digital-based fees, as brands and retailers realise the positive impact digital media and tools can have when used effectively.

To help them search for the right products offline, we’ve used interactive kiosks, digital displays and mobile to provide shoppers with useful information at the shelf. We’ve brought brand events to life in travel retail through limited edition Augmented Reality packs and webcam enabled kiosks.

There’s a lot of great ways that digital technology can help improve the shopping experience. Through Clubcard data and their latest app, Tesco are enabling their Noline shoppers to scan or buy products in-store and automatically add them to their online favourites, or check whether products are in stock at their local store before they waste their trip.

Amazon have added a barcode scanning functionality to their app, enabling shoppers to experience a product offline and check the price and order it instantly online. One of my favourites at the moment is Tissot’s interactive Selfridges window display – passers-by were handed a wristband, which they put on and held up to the window to activate an Augmented Reality demonstration of various Tissot watches.

We’re also seeing more and more great examples of the power digital media has to influence shopper behaviour through sharing. We know from one of our own studies in the US two years ago, that 76% of shoppers would tell their friends about a great deal and smart marketers are working out how to facilitate these conversations.

Online voucher sharing has become a phenomenon since the recession took hold, but we’re now seeing communities like Groupon and CrowdSaver on Walmart.com coming together to demand better value from retailers.

Stickybits is a great example of an app that allows people to attach digital content to real world objects, so that when you scan the barcode you might receive product reviews, photos or recipe suggestions. The possibilities are endless.

Help shoppers with their agenda

In the past, agencies and advertisers have been guilty of putting the technology and the brand first, regardless of the shopper and their needs. That’s why great innovations like in-store TV failed to take off at the first attempt – people don’t want to watch ads whilst they’re looking for the eggs.

To really harness the opportunities digital technologies can provide, marketers need to understand how and when the shopper wants to use technology and how it can improve their shopping experience. For example, amongst the clutter of the nappy isle, interactive screens could enable confused shoppers to find the right product based on their child’s specific needs. Or installing interactive screens in the wine category, where shoppers often lack confidence, would enable them to make informed choices based on personal tastes, food matching or time of year.

By understanding what the shopper really cares about, and by delivering a simple and effective solution that improves their shopping experience, brands have the opportunity to use digital media to engage new shoppers and create loyalty beyond reason.

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