A Seasonal Guide to Shopper Marketing


ADOTAS – For decades, retail marketers relied on colorful Sunday paper sales circulars to supplement their ad campaigns and drive customers into stores, but today’s shopping trends have changed. Readership for the print versions of Sunday papers has diminished, and some merchandisers have begun to replace the giant store displays in favor of a cleaner, more streamlined aisle.

To keep up with the evolving shopping landscape, retail brands are turning toward digital shopper marketing strategies. CPG brands spent nearly $3 billion on digital advertising in 2012, and that number is expected to increase to $5.32 billion by 2017, according to an eMarketer 2013 report.

Shopper marketing is vital throughout the year, but it is interesting to examine their potential for impact by examining seasonal marketing. For instance, the holiday gift-giving season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the most crucial periods for CPG brands and when you’ll see their marketing teams pulling out all the stops. Or consider the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, which is also big business for CPGs; chocolates, candy, wine and other treats are V-Day mainstays, with special packaging and themed marketing programs.

Digital programs can be implemented quickly, but to optimize their performance, you need a solid plan including goals, projections and lots and lots of data. The more shopper data you can gather on the front end to inform your plan, the better it will serve you during the holiday crunch time. Gaining a holistic view of your shopper based on demographic and behavioral data will enable you to accurately target potential customers with messaging designed to appeal to their unique holiday shopping needs.

Here are a few tips for shopper marketing success throughout the year.

Apply Offline Merchandising Techniques to Online Programs

Products are strategically placed in stores to encourage shoppers to buy more; displays and endcaps are designed to grab attention while browsing. These same principles apply to digital marketing as well. Placing display ads and branded content alongside relevant content along the digital path to purchase can do wonders to boost awareness of holiday specialty items.  The seamless experience is the name of the game in our omnichannel world, so ensuring cohesiveness between in-store and online displays and offers is key.

Content online can serve the same function as an in-store display or free sample, helping customers arrive at purchase decisions, and many CPG brands are excelling in this area. L’Oreal Groupe has done a stellar job promoting seasonal looks on Makeup.com. The branded content on this site, which promotes Lancome, Garnier and other L’Oreal brands, is frequently shared across popular sites like Buzzfeed. Similarly, seasonal favorites like Necco’s conversation hearts and Whitmans’s chocolates are sure to find favor among consumers who will share, pin and tweet valued content. Incorporating these beloved seasonal items into a content marketing strategy that leverages earned, owned and paid media is a smart way to reach consumers at every touch point, raising brand awareness and increasing purchase intent.  Tying in a strong call to action such as a discount, gift with purchase or other special offer will give them a reason to click through.

Data and Targeting are Key

Seasonal CPG items are specialized anyway, but within that category there are a variety of sub-categories that must be considered. This is where segmentation data can come in handy. Knowing who bought red heart-shaped paper plates and pink and red streamers on Wednesday can provide great insight into who should receive soft drink and chip “reminder” offers on Friday and cleaning supply coupons on Sunday. This “trip mission” data is incredibly effective for brands like Coke.

Leveraging shopper data can help determine the messaging and content that is most relevant for each prospective customer. After all, American global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company points out that building a one-to-one relationship is a key to both building loyalty and driving better insights – gifts that keep giving for CPG marketers.  Putting your seasonal products in front of the people most likely to be interested – then providing the incentive that is most apt to make that particular shopper to go to the store and buy –  will help ensure that those products aren’t sitting in the 75 percent-off bin come February 15.

Partnering with retailer-specific loyalty programs and broader online rewards programs is also an ideal way to not only identify your target shoppers based on previous buying patterns, but also to determine the right messaging to appeal to their needs and drive in-store sales.

Customers sign up for loyalty programs because they are receptive to branded communications and providing some personal data in exchange for rewards. Delivering on that promise with exclusive offers, will help maintain their brand affinity and move more products off of store shelves.


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