Managing the Myriad Forces Impacting Retail

The more we read and hear about the retail space, the less clear it sometimes is about where things are headed. PRISM hopes to simplify the media aspects of it, while retailers are becoming more interested in custom customer specific programs as well as now customer/shopper specific efforts.

There was an interesting article in the Hub about shopper marketing which raised questions for us about the myriad forces at work in retail marketing. The article written by Chris Hoyt and Gail Peterson of Hoyt and Associates basically outlines the shift by retailers to better shopper segmentation and what it means to anyone selling goods at retail. Check it out here.

The net net is that retailers are aiming to better serve their shoppers by customizing stores (product selection, layout, etc…). The hope of the more “shopper relevant” store is, as always increased sales, but also increased loyalty. “This store understands me” seems to be the general response that retailers are looking for.

This is smart and makes complete sense, but will change what agencies are going to be tasked with in the future. The challenge will no longer be to create customer specific programming across a client’s top 5 or 10 retailers (for example) but is going to grow geometrically as each customer specific program will have 4 – 8 “shopper segment” twists. This, however, is a challenge worth stepping up to as it this will inevitably lead to more targeted programming which means more effective and successful work.

So as planning looks to become more targeted and customized, in working with the PRISM consortium, we see the science side of in-store looking to generalize and simplify. This then raises the question, as stores differentiate further, what does this mean for attempts to create uniform measurement and planning?

One could argue the measurement factor can remain less affected as “eyeballs are eyeballs” in the world of media measurement. An impression in prime time TV is added on top of an impression in Time Magazine and then added again to a Yahoo impression is terms of overall plan delivery. Yes, the levels of engagement are different, but that’s a separate consideration as a part of the planning process. As far as Nielsen is concerned, they are measuring “opportunity to see”; again eyeballs are eyeballs. (It’s the same song for TV, Print and everything else measured.)

So, this leads us to the part which is affected by all these shifts in retailer/shopper specific planning. While thanks to PRISM we will know how many people will see our in-store pieces, how to interrupt and engage
will become a more important art. Encouragement on the part of retailers for more specific programs around shopper segments in particular store formats provide an opportunity to create more relevant creative.

This opportunity raises some very interesting questions from a creative insight standpoint. How do we drive relevance across different store- and shopper-types? What are the vehicles that allow the flexibility to creative these types of campaigns? What kind of creative measurement do we establish to test what works where and for whom? How can PRISM’s science help in development and measurement of the more artistic side of planning?