Attendance was somewhat lower at the 2009 In-Store Marketing Summit in Chicago. Clearly, this is a direct result of the economic environment as companies are restricting conference attendance and travel. Despite the slightly lower turnout, the content was pretty good. A number of different themes were reinforced by many of the speakers—the majority of those themes concerning the economic difficulties shoppers are facing and how they are adapting or coping with them.
IRI delivered one of the most informative presentations in which they shared a lot of data and suggested a framework of 7 Ps for manufacturers and retailers to consider. These are:
- Planning—Decisions are being made before consumers enter the store. There was plenty of discussion on the amount of coupon-collecting, list-making, and deal-searching going on before entering a store.
- Purpose—Decisions are complementing ritual changes. Lots of different data sources are strongly indicating that changes in behavior will live on into the future, no matter what happens in the economy.
- Price—Shoppers are looking for good prices and quality. Haven’t they always?
- Product—Shoppers are buying what they are familiar with. Now might not be the time to introduce the new latest and greatest, but instead spend money on making the familiar better, more relevant, and more engaging.
- Promotion—Shopper-direct marketing has arrived. Good!
- Place—Shoppers are looking for the best deals wherever they can find them. And they are prepared to drive to get them now that the price of gas has come down.
- Performance—Shoppers are scared about the financial future. The level of uncertainty about housing, pensions, 401(k)s and jobs is scaring everyone.
We would agree with all of this and, in our presentation, we also offered up another P to consider: Participation. The need to engage shoppers in ways and through channels in which they are interested or want to participate in.
However, while there was plenty of data to support all of these Ps (and not only from IRI), there was little by way of advice as to what to do. How do you ensure that you are the product/brand on the shopping list? How do you deliver the quality shoppers expect at a price they can afford today? What is the right level of quality (not too much, not too little)? What is the impact on your innovation pipeline? Some suggestions might have been interesting.
Let’s also not forget that, while some of the headline numbers about unemployment, reduction in shopper spending, etc. are not good, it is still a fact that over 91% of the U.S. population has jobs and there is still a lot of money to compete for. So there are reasons for brands to be optimistic out there.