Sophie Daranyi, CEO of Omnicom Commerce Group and a UK council member of Effie Worldwide, on the future of commerce in a post-Covid world.
The pandemic has turned life and business upside down, challenged plans, and tested processes. In this context, companies need to seriously raise their game to be effective and succeed. The MENA Effie Thought-Leadership Program is your chance to Rise and Shine. Two mornings of sessions that will show you how to improve your performance and impress the Effie jury. Leading up to the event organized by Mediaquest on May 18-19, Communicate shares a series of thought-leadership pieces on what effectiveness in marketing means in 2021.
It’s interesting – ‘sales’ sometimes remains a dirty word – the bridesmaid to the strategic goals of brand building, emotional connection, and cultural relevance. Often, both award criteria and marketing theory posit a choice or trade-off between brand love and transactional efficacy – of course, both are essential for sustained brand success. But, in our Covid-19 defined times, a laser focus on transactional success has never been more important as scrutiny on investment, effectiveness, and return continue to intensify. As commerce and shopper continue to evolve, it’s worth considering how we can have a better, clearer discussion about performance, value, and impact.
Consumers shop and buy in a retail world without boundaries, and as awareness and conversion continue to merge, “commerce” and “omnichannel” have become ubiquitous terms. Most agencies and marketers would argue that everything we do is ultimately focused on driving sales but for those of us at the coal face of conversion, our success and failure are ultimately measured by increased purchase. During a recent shopper and commerce judging panel, there was a heated debate about whether some entries were in the right category, and the conclusion was that they had to clearly demonstrate ‘direct impact on purchase decision and sales’ vs. the indirect outcome of a broader campaign focused on awareness or consideration. And it is through this lens that commerce and shopper marketing are truly defined.
Until recently, ‘shopper marketing’ was often perceived to be at the tactical end of the marketing axis – I remember one old guard advertising agency colleague asking me “It’s just wobblers isn’t it”?” Yes, POS and effective merchandising are part of the mix, but hardly the defining tools of a multi-channel industry accelerated by perpetual purchase and technological transformation. As a result of these changes, shopper and commerce now need to move up the strategic ladder. What are some of the key aspects that need to come together to best impact commerce effectiveness?
Omnichannel strategy. Everyone presents themselves as an omnichannel expert these days, but agency channel and client structural siloes often hamstring our ability to truly map and plan around consumer purchase behaviour. Successful commerce strategy is based on data-fuelled intelligence on shopper need-states, triggers, and the selection/deselection process – research, shortlisting and ultimately purchase and repurchase. Analyzing and mapping moments of potential and actual conversion across this non-linear journey through physical, digital, and social touchpoints, integrating paid, owned and earned content, is essential to drive the buy. Here again, siloes at an agency and client level hinder a touchpoint-agnostic planning process. Collaborative, channel-neutral and multi-platform strategy is the fundamental foundation for credible commerce planning. Achieving this requires new ways of working – embracing innovative structures, coordinated and results-based incentives, new, broader and shared KPis and investments in data, analytics and automation – which will require focused determination on both sides of the client and agency fence but the change of input will transform the output.
Commerce creative. As the moment between awareness and purchase collapses, creative content has to evolve more effectively to both engage and sell. Applying a ‘shelf back’ approach is still relevant – has the creative platform the potential to drive shopper conversion through a combination of engagement, relevance, and simplicity? And once at shelf, differentiation has never been more important to brand choice, whether in store or online. Importantly, tagging a ‘buy’ button onto content doesn’t reflect the sophistication needed to drive the buy – better aligning creative excellence and dynamic content with commercial outcome will continue to be high on all our agendas.
Data transparency. Granular targeting and measurable effectiveness rely on data transparency and connectivity. In particular, first-party transaction/purchase data is part of the “holy grail” of marketing effectiveness and attribution modelling. Much of this data exists in walled gardens today, guarded by the retailers themselves, but client confidentiality combined with siloes between marketing and sales are also common obstacles to sharing essential investment and sales uplift numbers. Both agencies and clients have a shared responsibility to ensure sales impact targets are agreed upon upfront and collaboratively measured post-event. These gardens, closed loops, and siloes impede clear measurement and attribution and as an industry, we need to find new solutions. Specifically, it’s essential that we all invest in data sources and technology to build clear measurement of both sales performance and investment levels, but also to drive deeper understanding of shopper behavior.
Experience & engagement. We live in an era where consumers no longer expect a trade-off between experience and convenience. Shoppers at minimum expect a seamless, friction-free customer experience from brands and retailers as they weave across physical, digital and social. Customer experience and service remain pivotal drivers of consumer satisfaction and repurchase intent. As highstreets around the world face the challenges of footfall and relevance, engagement, inspiration, education, human interaction, entertainment, community, and innovation will be more important than ever.
The new values. Product cost and the price/value equation will always be a leading factor of purchase decision making. But the role of ethical values is becoming a key driver not only of consideration but also ultimate choice. 70% of consumers claim that brand and retailer credentials in corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability and ethical business practices influence their brand choice. What does this mean to how we can better reinforce these values at point of purchase whether via messaging, optimizing consumer or media content, packaging or promotions? A key focus for us all will be finding ways to more effectively aligning purpose to purchase and changing intent to action.
Commerce investment. Retailers are increasingly looking to drive revenue through becoming media owners – positioning themselves not only to drive sales but also awareness and other, traditionally “upper funnel” marketing outcomes – agencies can better pivot to advise and consult on holistic marketing investment. Many of us are pioneering tools and process to better assess the impact and then inform spend across awareness, consumer promotions, and media to drive strong customer relationships, support buying negotiations and ultimately drive most effective ROI.
The world of commerce is a challenging but wonderful place to be – thinking of ways to better deliver effectiveness will only help further fuel the pace of change and opportunity.
This article was first published on Effie Thinks, a series of think-pieces written by inspirational business leaders and innovators who are part of our network of Board & Council members and judges. Featuring expertise from right across the industry, the opinions are diverse, but every piece contains insights relevant to all marketers driving growth for their brands in today’s challenging climate.