Colgate Shows How to Build Value with Shopper Platforms
Rosemont, Ill. — Shopper platforms can be a valuable complement to commercial activity plans, lessening the need for the more typical promotional-driven efforts. But there are critical steps that must be taken to ensure the success of brand-specific or cross-category shopper platforms, said Barry Roberts, Colgate-Palmolive director of retail shopper solutions, during a Path to Purchase Expo seminar in September.
Roberts and co-presenter Marie-Agnes Daumas, director of Colgate-Palmolive’s Shopper Marketing Center of Excellence, outlined what constitutes an effective shopper platform and the steps needed to ensure successful development and execution. “If we do it right, these programs have the potential to build profitable and sustainable growth, while adding value to the categories in which we participate,” Roberts said. “And as such, we can lessen the dependence we have on those trade dollars trying to push volume through with a price discount.”
Colgate-Palmolive has needed to be very agile in the way it approaches any shopper programs, and the overarching goal is to motivate targeted shoppers to choose in an omnichannel environment while building brand equity. “We have to understand from whom our growth is going to come and make sure we’re directing our investment and our efforts against that,” Roberts said.
To truly motivate your target, he stressed, you have to understand how to connect your brands with them, and what will make that connection relevant. “We need to be relevant to people inside and out of the store,” Roberts said, “and the only way to do that is to be insight-driven and truly understand the insights behind the target. When we do that and look at things holistically – meaning knowing our consumer and what mindset they are in – we will provide the right solutions and ultimately get them to choose our product or get the sale.”
Roberts stressed the need to find the strategic intersection between a company’s goals and its customer’s priorities. “Only then can you start to work against both and have more meaningful activity for your customers and your company.”
Daumas added that the notion of shopper solutions is critically important. “Studies show that if you follow the seven principals we will take you through, you will be able to deliver incremental value, drive profitable growth, building brand equity and strengthen customer collaboration,” she said. That leads to a competitive advantage because the world where everything is driven by trade promotion is gone.
The critical first step is to identify the business need, she said. Identify opportunities throughout the year, business issues or “pain points” that your company or the retailer has and then overlay the retailer’s strategic priorities with your company’s strategic opportunities.
Next, choose the type of program, whether it be event-driven, equity solutions, basket solutions or customer collaboration. A back-to-school program recently proved out the benefits of creating a shopper platform that goes beyond just price discounts. It’s not just about academic success that parents are readying their kids for at the beginning of a school year, but also about social success – adding an emotional angle.
Third, make it insights-driven – an essential step to ensure relevance and value to the target shopper. Daumas shared work done by Colgate subsidiary Tom’s of Maine. The 45-year-old brand has a natural story to tell and, on top of that, gives 10% of its profits back to efforts to preserve the planet. “When you overlay these for the specific target we’re going after, that’s where the magic happens,” she said. “Just by choosing Tom’s, you are making a difference for your kids and the planet.”
The next step is developing compelling creative. Colgate developed its “Invisible Nasties” program to remind consumers to replace their toothbrushes more often than most generally remember to.
Once the shopper platform has been developed, amplify it with scale and visibility. Partnerships can provide scale and basket relevance and, according to Roberts, you are no longer limited in terms of getting tactics out there. Go and connect in multiple ways with your consumers.
The final two steps, demonstrate the value and incorporate into commercial planning, are as important as the others. It is crucial to align with partners on key performance indicators from the beginning, Daumas said, and insert these events into longer lead planning, similar to a new product, because of the time and resources needed for development and so they can secure a valid place on the commercial grid.