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26 Feb 2015
posted by: Amanda

UK FMCG market lags way behind Australia in shopper...

These are words that I never thought I'd put together given the maturity of the UK retail industry compared to Australia, but the unavoidable truth is that when it comes to shopper, big FMCG manufacturers are lagging way behind where they ought to be...

Image showing snail pace for UK shopper research and insights lagging behind Australia shopper research and insights

Especially in this incredibly competitive market, especially when the retailers are struggling to create point of difference and especially when the brand war can increasingly be won in-store, ignoring the shopper in today's climate feels like lunacy. 

So why does it happen? We've identified 5 common faults holding manufacturers back. Today we'll look at the first of these...

1. Never ending Consumerism

Joke image on consumer and shopper

FACT = The consumer is very important.
BUT....they are only half the story. 

In a recent survey of FMCG manufacturers in the UK we found that the ratio between consumer and shopper focus to be (at best) 90:10. Evidenced by many DIY easy to measure areas such as number of consumer to shopper heads, amount of shopper knowledge feeding key business plans, amount of budget for research, focus on NPD execution over shopper marketing execution, and so on. 

The same was true in Australia back in 2003 when we first started doing shopper. Back then, we'd walk into big manufacturers and have to firstly explain who a shopper was, why they were different and why anyone should care before we could even begin to peddle our wares! In short, back then - 12 years ago - it was similar to how it currently is in the UK. In Australia today, most manufacturers have specialist shopper departments, shopper forms an equal percentage in business planning inputs, budgets are a lot fairer (albeit still not 50:50...!) and significant resource is now put against in-store test & learn as well as everyday shopper marketing execution. This investment continues because of the clear ROI that it delivers. 

When you look at the Path to Purchase (P2P) model, it explains why there should be a more balanced focus between consumer & shopper. The P2P represents the path to sales success. In order for any brand to have the best chance of being bought, it must pass successfully through these 5 key stages. The brands that execute the best at each (& ideally every) stage, are the ones that become brand leaders. If you'd like to read more on each these 5 stages, this previous post should help.

What's really interesting when you break it down like this is that the consumer elements of the P2P are in 2 of the 5 key stages; The Seed and The Delivery. Shopper on the other hand occupies 3 of the 5; The Plan, The Path and The Purchase. Following this logic through therefore, a manufacturer's consumer - shopper focus should be closer to 40:60 in favour of shopper and not 90:10 against.

 

The path to purchase P2P for shopper research and insights and execution

So why are we so stuck on Consumer?

1. Shopper leadership....Shopper is the new kid on the block and shopper traction therefore relies upon someone - no matter how big or small their role - taking ownership to get things moving. Sometimes it's easier to keep on doing what you've always done ....

2. Shopper innocence.... Shopper is 'new' relatively and there are many businesses out there that genuinely don't understand shopper & what its knowledge can deliver to the bottom line. This is easily fixed by talking to experts - like us - and starting the internal education process off. Good agencies will always be willing to make a time investment in your education in the hope that this will pay off so use what's freely available to you. If nothing else...at least you will have learned something!

3. Shopper apathy... the 'if it ain't broke...' mentality that safely relegated Sainsbury to the #2 retailer in the UK. Some businesses are leaders and some aren't. Same goes for the people that work there.

Where do you start??

It's not as scary as it sounds....small steps are better than no steps at all!!

Image showing the importance of making a start on shopper research, insights and execution

1. Get a shopper sponsor
The sales team are a good place to start here as talking shop will make their life easier with the retailers and should help them hit their numbers. As such, they can be excellent advocates. Look to someone who exhibits the following qualities; confident, able to influence & smart enough so that they can 'get it'. Get them to help you 'lobby' for some shopper air time with senior management.

2. Get the experts in 
Things that we've seen work really well here are agency evaluation days where a group of key agencies are invited in to present on the value of shopper to you, your sponsor and other key people. In this way, you can coordinate and facilitate rather than having to do all the hard work yourself. If you can get the right people in the room with a good collection of agencies, their questions should be answered in a day and you should come away from the day with a clear plan of attack for shopper. Or at the very least, you'll know exactly where the business stands.

3. Talk to your retailers
We do this most days for the Top UK retailers and there's not a week that goes by where there isn't one initiative or another that they want us to test, trial or learn about. Getting involved early with these retailer conversations represents a great opportunity for you to create some internal momentum for shopper. Your sales sponsor should be able to pave the way for a retailer meeting & then it's just down to you to impress! Again, ask the experts for help. We've got loads of case studies that really work to get the retailers excited so please email if you'd like to see some.
At the very least you should make a good impression and show the retailer that you do care about their consumer - the shopper - which should only help yours (& your sponsors) relationship with them in the future!

4. Take the first (small) step
Pick a strong shopper agency partner and focus on delivering 1-2 key projects (maybe even with one key retailer to start).  A quick win here will be a real feather in your cap and should go a long way to unlocking further traction internally. 

We'd love to hear your experiences and comments on this topic and learn how you are getting on. As always, please contact us if you'd like to find out more!

Good luck!