With new channels for, and rising expectations from, consumers, the art and science of converting shoppers into buyers has become more challenging (and therefore – more interesting!) for marketers and researchers alike. This year at OmniShopper International, which featured the biggest names in the industry, we exchanged ideas and insight on how to use our experiences to advance our efforts and push the whole industry forward.
What were the key takeaways? In summary:
1. Don’t hesitate to innovate! Be ready for the “creasumers”!
2. Create memorable experiences in a world of fast-changing occasions and habits.
3. Optimization means testing and fine-tuning.
Don’t Hesitate to Innovate
“Fast-walking, digilogue urbanistas with a long life, working like priests” – is this a society from the latest sci-fi movie? Actually, these are the consumers of the post-industrial era, from the lens of trendspotter and futurologist Magnus Lindkvist. He pointed out that these consumers have morphed into “creasumers,” i.e. creative consumers, willing to invest time and money on their quest to find purpose and meaning. When we use the term consumer-oriented, marketers and researchers need to take the essential transformation, from consumer to creasumer, into account when planning future activities.
Lindkvist also nudged us not to wait, but “to future,” – i.e. to actively participate in what lies ahead. He provided three suggestions on how to go about it: (1) find and make use of a “secret world,” a trend unbeknownst to most, (2) experiment and learn by doing and (3) be patient and prepared to be misunderstood before your innovative endeavor takes off. With the cost of “waiting” waxing and the cost of “doing” waning, we really can’t afford not to be brave and pursue our goals.
Another stimulating session which yielded questions about the way in which we create solutions, was hosted by Dave Birss, Chief Thinker at Right Thinking and Founder & Editor at OpenForIdeas.org. Prefacing the talk with the title statement “if creativity is the answer, the question is wrong,” Dave expressed to us how creativity should not be the main outcome of brainstorming sessions, since most people constantly incubate many different kinds of ideas. What is challenging, though, and what only few can do, is stay resilient and find ways to overcome obstacles.
Create Memorable Experiences in a World of Fast-changing Occasions and Habits
One of the companies unafraid to come out and play is Lego Group. Their Global Shopper Insight Manager Cindy Chu and Head of Retail Innovation Representative Martin Urrutia revealed the steps they have taken to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. Their strategy was to create the most memorable shopping experience with the deepest possible level of customer engagement.
This approach is based on placing soft metrics before hard ones which has, in this success story, resulted in sales growth without the consequence of cannibalization and with the reward of positive feedback from the retailers themselves.
In-store touch points have also been the focus of Jiri Zeman’s case study on Nestlé. He spoke about everyone’s favorite category – confectionery – which traditionally has stable growth, but never precludes the room, or need, for improvement. What’s more, in the Czech Republic, despite the 97% overall penetration, basket penetration is only at 10%. Nestlé’s optimization was based on the introduction of a new category segmentation based on occasion, i.e. whether the consumer is making a purchase for oneself, as a gift for somebody else or for the family.
Coca-Cola Germany has also taken into account how consumers and their habits have changed. They noticed the emergence of a new target group – the so-called Better World Consumers who care about sustainability and strive to shop for more natural and locally-grown/made products. This was the ideal group for differentiated premium lemonade, launched under ViO, a newer water brand. Christian Vilgaard Thomsen explained how one of the key factors in driving the excellent results they had achieved was a massive sampling program that not only included traditional channels, such as supermarkets and e-commerce, but also food festivals, universities, drugstores and even fashion retail stores! It’s the “giving people what they want” concept on a whole new level.
Optimization Means Testing and Fine-tuning
Being aware of the industry trends, however, is only half the battle – understanding what they mean to the end customer is a whole other can of worms. Oliver Bradley from Unilever and Patricia Dominguez from SKIM showcased what the “mobile first” mindset really means, providing us with guidelines for product hero images as well as visuals enhanced for the mobile shopping experience. Unlike conventional packshots, mobile-ready hero images have highlighted brand, format, variant and pack count/size, thus making it easier for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for. The results were impressive to, and informative for, all retailers looking to improve their e-commerce platforms.
Paulo Atienza from Friesland Campina also got to show off their amazing results in China after launching the company’s e-commerce platform in 2015. This company built a strong data analytics backbone that tracks and attributes lagging KPIs to the different “levers” and harmonizes all data across all touchpoints under one DAC. To sum it up, their credo was “test and optimize” and they strongly recommended using pretotypes to gain as much knowledge about consumers and their sentiments before overinvesting in resources. Friesland Campina’s efforts were crowned not only with remarkable business results, but also with the Winsemius Award for Sustainability & Innovation for 2017.
It was truly inspiring for our team to hear how brave they were in taking a risk and using data to maximize their chances of success. If we had to single out one key takeaway from OmniShopper International, it would be just that: if you want to take a risk and succeed, make the most of all the resources you have at your disposal and just test, test, test until you come up with the right formula.