Activating change in retail marketing is imperative
Consumer & Shopper empowerment will continue to disrupt the legacy systems of marketing & retail. The massive swings in consumer preferences – away from major brands, toward ‘authentic’ smaller brands, decreasing brand loyalty, demand for variety seeking – make a marketer’s challenge to drive growth even harder than it has been. And reaching people and connecting with them as shoppers in a fragmented media landscape strains communications efforts.
This trend is not a technology issue – it is a trend of human behavior that is enabled by mobile and other technologies, but rooted in a powerful empowerment mindset (‘I want what I want, when I want it, how I want to get it’). Deeper insights are required to improve marketing activation efforts.
Application of sophisticated data analytics to drive improved business efforts will skyrocket. The CMO of IBM poses 4 technologies that will transform retail: cloud computing, AI, Internet of Things, Blockchain. Companies will begin to realize benefits of harvesting and activating both active and passive data streams of all sorts to better target, better message, optimize spend and deliver improved customer experiences – more profitably. Fluency and nimbleness will data to drive ‘real time’ business activities will be a new organizational success driver.
The ‘rethinking of commerce’ will accelerate. Retail will need to adapt to the fundamental shifts in how people ‘get stuff they need / want’. It is not about being ‘omni-channel’ or ‘enabling e-commerce’ – the trend will be new ways to deliver on what Doug McMillon, CEO of WMT declared as being a retailer delivering ‘frictionless, seamless shopping experiences at scale’. If you follow what WMT is doing – acquisitions, patents filed, pilot tests, etc. – you get a peek into where retail commerce might be heading, and what might be near term versus longer term.
And beyond WMT, trends show US retailers investing significant capital in store remodels in attempts to connect the traditional store experience to new and emerging shopper expectations. The ‘store’ is changing.
Expansion of ‘brand marketing’ thinking and planning. Brand strategies and planning will increasingly incorporate more ‘downstream’ insights and elements, bridging a more commercial marketing mindset that extends all the way to retail.
Thinking and acting in terms of ‘consumer marketing’ vs. ‘shopper marketing’ vs. ‘retail activation’ is increasingly being broken down by progressive companies. A uniting focus is making companies more agile in connecting legacy marketing to commerce under an integrated commercial framework, driving process change, funding shifts and the need for new skills and competencies across the business.