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Talking Shopper Marketing Strategies and Measurement

We pick the brains of Meta’s Edlynne Laryea and Matthew Sharp ahead of their May 18 Future Forward presentation.
a man smiling for the camera
a person posing for the camera
Meta’s Edlynne Laryea and Matthew Sharp

Understanding the real business value of shopper marketing tactics has long been a challenge for marketers. At the Path to Purchase Institute’s Future Forward event this month in Chicago, Meta’s Edlynne Laryea and Matthew Sharp will share their company’s strategies for best-in-class collaboration between suppliers and retailers as well as industry specific measurement principles to help shopper marketers and their partners build toward the future.

To further understand the topic ahead of their May 18 Trend Talk session, we picked the brains of Laryea and Sharp, posing the following questions. 

P2PIQ: How and why are consumers’ shopping behaviors constantly changing?

Laryea: Let's first acknowledge that we are all consumers and we inherently know how some of these behaviors have evolved, because we are living it. In the last few years, all of us have seen a change in the way we shop. Specifically, we’ve moved from going shopping — which is carving out time in our days to get what we need in a way that is routine, functional and intent based — to where we are now … we are always shopping. Shopping is now serendipitous, curated and integrated into daily life. According to our "Transformation of In-Store" study with HarrisX (see the note at bottom), 84% of shoppers surveyed have purchased groceries in-store after discovering them on social media.

The pandemic taught us that consumers will ebb and flow with what kind of shopping is possible. When stores shut down, people went online. When stores reopened, people continued to discover and buy products online, but they also leaned into BOPIS, and returned to the behavior of discovering new brands and products in stores — often then buying those products online or shipping them home from the store. It’s not just one or the other channel anymore. 

Today, among people surveyed more prefer to blend online and in-store shopping compared to shopping via e-commerce or brick-and-mortar channels in isolation. A new hybrid world of retail is emerging where the already blurred lines between physical and digital become even less distinct and shopping becomes a more interconnected experience. 

P2PIQ: Why is it such a challenge for marketers to understand the real business value of shopper marketing tactics? 

Sharp: It’s challenging because it is difficult to measure due to the lack of standard industry measurement solutions and benchmarks. Shopper marketing can play many different roles for clients and is critically important to the business, but is a relatively small piece of the overall marketing mix. This can make its contribution difficult to isolate and measure. We're hopeful that the work Meta is participating in with the Path to Purchase Institute, and others in the industry, will move us in the right direction in terms of standardization.

There are a number of barriers involved in measuring and understanding the real value of shopper marketing campaigns including “return on relationship.” The “return on relationship” metric is important to mention here as shopper marketing investment is not always connected to marketing performance. Every CPG runs slightly differently and caters to many retailers. This decreases clarity on how to perceive effectiveness when you start getting down to these smaller channels and silos. The availability of data is also a barrier in accurately measuring impact. 

When we look at measuring the performance of a retailer and then down to a specific store, there is a level of detail that isn't always provided. With the emergence of retail media networks, most of which are building their own measurement frameworks and tools, there is an opportunity for innovation and sophistication and also a risk for further fragmentation and lack of alignment on objectives, KPIs, methodologies, etc.

P2PIQ: Are there currently industry-specific measurement principles to help shopper marketers and their partners build toward the future? How advanced are things? If not, why? 

Sharp: Yes, these principles exist and are currently being shaped by industry bodies. Although we are seeing steady advancement, one gap we see is a lack of focus on measuring incremental business outcomes. There is quite a bit of confusion and misalignment in the industry right now when it comes to measuring incremental outcomes vs. attributed outcomes. For example, ROAS (return on ad spend) can be calculated using incremental brand or product sales driven by a campaign, and it can also be calculated using total brand or product sales during the campaign period. A very nuanced difference that often creates dramatically different results. While the Meta team believes incrementality is the gold standard, we should aim for standardized language to make that difference very clear within the industry and avoid the classic “apples-to-oranges” mistake.

Meta is participating in some of the industry-wide work I alluded to, including the Path to Purchase Institute’s Commission to Standardize the Measurement of Shopper Marketing (SM2). Last fall, the Commission released an Industry Playbook that aims to give brands and retailers the tools they need to better plan and evaluate shopper marketing investments as part of the overall media mix. The Playbook outlines six components of a solid measurement plan:

  1. Develop a program and evaluation process
  2. Define program objectives
  3. Identify KPIs
  4. Measure long-term impact wherever possible
  5. Be as granular as possible
  6. Identify reliable partners and data sources to feed into your measurement plans

We believe these principles are true for all marketers, although with the unique mix of tactics used in shopper marketing in addition to the supplier and retailer relationship dynamics, these can often be challenging to achieve. Those are key reasons for shopper measurement not being more advanced than it is today.

P2PIQ: How does Meta work with suppliers and retailers to facilitate collaboration?

Laryea: Meta’s ambition is to maximize value generated at the intersection of CPGs, retailers and shoppers to drive real business outcomes for our clients. We partner across the ecosystem working with both CPGs and retailers to help them meet their shopper marketing objectives. Through this collaboration we help both sides drive sales and win across the shopping journey from pre-shop to post shop, whether shoppers are looking to purchase online or in-store.

As discovery happens on our platforms, many businesses are turning to a solution called Collaborative Ads. The partnership between brands and retailers with this solution empowers brands to send high intent shoppers to a retailer's site, app or store, while providing relevant offers and a seamless experience to shoppers. Not only that, but it opens up opportunities to measure the impact of brand funded campaigns on sales. 

Note: The “Transformation of the In-Store Experience” study by HarrisX was a Meta-commissioned online survey of 43,863 retail shoppers, ages 18+, in AU, BR, CA, FR,  DE, JP, MX, KR, TH, UK, US, from August–September 2021. Unless otherwise specified, the data is a cross-country average between all 11 markets in the study.

Future Forward: To learn more about Meta’s May 18 presentation, and to register, visit the event website.

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