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Reimagining Retail

Art and science fuel TracyLocke’s shopper practice
  • June 24 2012

Since it was founded nearly a century ago, TracyLocke has remained remarkably consistent in its mission. Back in 1950, Morris Hite, then president and CEO of the agency, said, “Everything we do at Tracy­Locke is designed for the sole purpose of moving people to buy and to act.” Remarkably, the same can be said of TracyLocke today.

“The mediums change, but we’ll always create content in order to drive commerce,” says Michael Lovegrove, chief creative officer—East at Tracy­Locke.

Of course, TracyLocke has evolved over time. It has shifted from a traditional advertising agency to a more shopper-focused agency with an emphasis on building brands and driving commerce. The idea is to understand a brand’s core positioning with detailed data about consumer and shopper behavior, and use it to develop ideas and activation plans that engage them in the right way, at the right time, with the right message. It’s also critically important to measure the impact and learn from results to continuously improve the work.

“Every opportunity where you used to think about path to purchase for a consumer, that consumer is now a potential shopper. That’s why brands are shifting from consumer marketing to shopper marketing,” says Beth Ann Kaminkow, president and CEO of TracyLocke.

There’s a common misconception that shopper marketing revolves around in-store marketing and consumer package goods, Kaminkow explains, but that’s just a small part of what shopper marketers do. “Shopper marketing gets a bad rap,” she says. “Shopper marketing isn’t just tactical. It’s about doing strategic work that helps solve business challenges with creative solutions.”

For example, to launch Gatorade’s G Series FIT, TracyLocke and the client identified Walgreens as the perfect place to reach fitness athletes. G Series FIT came to life with an endcap destination that educated shoppers about the three-step product line; it also offered free mobile workout videos from Men’s and Women’s Health Magazine that could be redeemed with a receipt-based code. The program launched months in advance of TV and digital national advertising and recently won a Silver Effie in the Shopper Marketing category.

With a client roster that includes PepsiCo, Pizza Hut, 7-Eleven, Dick’s Sporting Goods, T-Mobile and Hewlett-Packard, TracyLocke emphasizes the intersection of art and science—how research and data influence the creative process and vice versa. The idea is that by understanding the path to purchase, you can better influence shoppers at the moments of truth, the points of purchase.

“In order for creative to create, they need to have an equal balance of information and inspiration. At TracyLocke, strategists and creative leaders work with business leaders collaboratively. The way ideas are created here is quite fluid,” says Lovegrove.

Technology is rapidly changing the future of shopper marketing—in terms of the amount of research available about shoppers, as well as the way people shop.

“The two biggest trends that are influencing the future of shopper marketing are mobile and social,” says Kaminkow. “The peer-to-peer factor—the ability of social to influence what you purchase, when you purchase, why you purchase—is the new normal. Marketers have no choice but to embrace it.”

Consider that the way people shopped just a few years ago is dramatically different from how we shop today—buying merchandise online and through our mobile devices, for example. Rather than having one moment of truth at the point of purchase, as Lovegrove points out, “there is now a ubiquitous moment of truth. You can buy anything anytime, anywhere you want.”

Shoppers now engage with brands 24/7, which explains why there are more opportunities for brands and retailers to utilize shopper marketing in innovative ways. For instance, TracyLocke has recently been working on designing global packaging for HP computers, printers and accessories.

“Why is a shopper marketing firm doing packaging design?” asks Lovegrove rhetorically. “The challenge is a shopper challenge. What’s the role of packaging around the world and why are people buying it or not buying it? It’s an example of how shopper marketing today can help drive purchase decisions.”