‘The Last Mile’ of Marketing

Industry press and newswires are filled with stories of how consumers and retailers are reacting to recessionary times. Now more than ever, marketers need smarter information to be able to turn shoppers into buyers of their brands. Consider 10 strategies on how marketers can connect with the shoppers along their path to purchase, which we at OgilvyAction frame as The Last Mile.

Understand the shopper: In The Last Mile, brands need to look deep into the relationship between a consumer and a brand — how that consumer behaves as a shopper and in various shopping environments — and how retailers regard the category and the brands in it.

In 2008, we spoke to 14,000 shoppers in 24 countries around the world at the point of purchase. Per our study, in the U.S. 39 percent decide brand choice inside the store and that decision is most frequently triggered by a product demo versus other activities. Twenty-nine percent of shoppers buy products impulsively in-store. How would you rework your marketing if you had this information about your brands?

Turn insights into action: Leveraging these shopper insights can help you prioritize and ignite the touch points that will lead to transactions. Activating brands in-store is the single biggest investment most manufacturers should make today, and using a shopper insight-based approach will be the difference between solid ROI and lost sales.

Create in-store “theater” to drive purchase: Our study revealed that visibility triggers impulse purchase in more than one in four shoppers. Therefore, brands need to be able to address the barriers to purchase in the store environment by providing the right mix of brand theater, including “retailtainment” and branded environments to create a call to action.

Effective use of in-store signage and shopper messaging: An improved grasp of purchase paths can significantly optimize the effectiveness of shopper marketing strategies. In today’s economy, the brand needs to have the right communication vehicles by channel, customer and category in order to avoid the horror stories of warehouses full of unused POS materials.

Focus on improving retail execution: To drive more profitable growth, brands will need to align their retail coverage and in-store merchandisers with the most important stores and growth hot spots. Significant money is being spent in this area, and this priority will continue given the importance of retail execution excellence.

Activate touch points with digital: The shopper’s journey in The Last Mile can be activated with many touch points. As technology evolves, many new touch points exist in the digital space. A recent Motorola promotion in China is a good example. The promotion offered a gift with purchase that was delivered to the consumer via SMS, and was redeemable on a Web site. The promotion eliminated the cost of shipping gifts to stores across China.

Using mobile content to drive store traffic and activate sales: We developed a mobile concierge app to drive shoppers to participating retail outlets. Using GPS technology, it locates the shopper’s nearest retailer and sends relevant offers when the shopper is in the retailer’s vicinity. Personalized service tailors offers to the shopper’s predefined interests.

Build consumer-based promo events-not just tactics: New consumption occasions are waiting to be discovered. A great example is Dental Health Month in Australia, now an annual event that started because shoppers didn’t change their toothbrush often enough. The Australian Dental Association was engaged to endorse retailers involved in the new selling opportunity. Dental Health Month now includes displays, product demos, widespread coverage and 20 percent higher sales.

Joint marketing with affinity partners: Make the brand’s message stretch further by enrolling partners that build the brand experience. One good example is Motorola’s partnership with Absolut Vodka. Motorola wanted to target trendsetters with its new KRZR mobile phone. A partnership was developed with Absolut to create a limited-edition Absolut KRZR phone. In addition to exploiting brand synergies in communications, joint-marketing activities took place in clubs and bars, opening up a new channel for Motorola to reach this important target in an unexpected way.

Stay close to shopping behavior changes: Shopper habits are ever changing. Stay close to what is actually happening with rigorous and regular reporting so you can respond quickly to the changing landscapes. Marketers with slow response will miss the opportunity to be a solution for the shopper.

In today’s economy, where we find that shoppers are more fickle than ever, it’s increasingly important for manufacturers and retailers to have access to the right insights in order to build stronger, more shopper-centric solutions to win the race for The Last Mile.

Ken Featherston is managing director of OgilvyAction in Chicago.