Betting big on shopper insights

08 Feb,2012


By Johnson Napier


At a time when brands – led by their able marketing chieftans – are still grappling with the insight and consumers are still clueless about the experience that the discipline offers, it is turning out to be an opportune time for agencies making a beeline in building their expertise around the rather unexplored phenomenon of Shopper Marketing.


The initiative, which is being pursued with hot interest by agencies to offer their services, has found a new and able beneficiary in Integer Group, one of the world’s largest promotional, retail, and shopper marketing agencies.


A group company of TBWA (an Omnicom Group agency), Integer enters India with Mumbai as its hub and the sixth such market for the group in Asia Pacific. It has already blazed ahead with its offerings in other established markets like the US, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America.


Commenting on the launch of the property in India, Shiv Sethuraman, CEO, TBWA India said: “Integer is going to be an important part of our strategy and is one of the fastest growing units within the marketing communications mix. We are very happy to be investing in the division early enough than most others.”


On the choice of India as the next market for launching the division, Dan Paris, Regional Managing Director – APAC, Integer said: “India, as a market, is accelerating fast and retail as a major driver is picking up drastically in India. From our POV, we wanted to launch at the right time and with the right assets and people. We thought the most important thing to do would be to invest in a serious study and the findings have revealed that this is an opportune time to be launching in this country.”


Integer’s shopper marketing expertise utilizes extensive global research data on shopper behaviour, retail insights, and unique tools to develop strategic marketing solutions for clients interested in engaging and motivating shoppers. In India, the unit would be headed by Sreejit Nair, MD, Integer who comes to the agency after having worked for FMCG majors like PepsiCo and P&G. Sharing his vision and how Integer would work in the Indian context, Mr Nair said: “Coming from the client side of the business, I know what retailers go through. Especially modern retailers, who are struggling with basic issues like ensuring fill rates, getting space at a fairly good rental, and so on, but what’s happening is that they have actually become obsessed with price. Shopper marketing gives a lot of opportunity for them to differentiate. If you go to the client with an effective plan, I am sure modern retailers would accept this practice.”


According to Mr Nair, the issue with brands is that they get obsessed with themselves; they don’t want to see what’s there for the retailer and the shopper. “If I am going to talk only about my brand, then it is like trying to push something to the retailer and that won’t work. And even if it works, it won’t succeed,” he affirms.


Sharing the agency’s core focus in India, Mr Paris affirmed that it would be around four verticals, namely promotional marketing, shopper marketing, channel marketing and digital. “As per reports, retail is estimated to grow to 6 per cent until 2016. Given that there is no slowdown being witnessed here and the fact that India delivered an average 3.9 per cent growth in retail, we expect a modest growth in this segment,” said Mr Paris.


“Also, the growth will be led largely by digital as the number of consumers who use online and mobile for research and shopping has gone up dramatically. Our study indicates that more than 60 per cent of the online consumers do research, comparisons and shop online and through mobile and this is quite a high figure. With e-commerce expected to grow by 3 per cent and with more than 123 million mobile payment users expected by 2012, these are exciting times for players to be in retail in India and around the world,” he added.


When quizzed on how Integer India would be different from what the other players in the space have to offer, Mr Nair said: “We would differentiate from the others through our insights. What’s happening is that everybody wants something sexy in retail and it starts and stops with that. We don’t want to be in that particular pool of agencies; we want to start with insights, focus on a lot of inputs on understanding the shopper first and tailoring solutions around his need. We don’t want to be seen as someone who makes flashy collaterals for retailers.”


Adding on, he said: “Personally, I believe that there is a lot of opportunity in traditional trade – that is an area that needs to be tapped. How much do companies know about traditional trade shopper? Hardly anything. That’s where the opportunity lies for us.”


Sharing a similar sentiment, Mr Sethuraman added: “I don’t think there is a clear understanding of what shopper marketing is actually about. Most people confuse it with BTL, activations and other such initiatives. The challenge for all agencies offering this service is to get the meaning behind this term well defined, get marketers to believe in this property and treat it as a proper discipline and not just another version of doing BTL. Having said that, I think there is room for all the players to grow healthily for a long time to come; it is still a very nascent category.”


Prior to launching the service in India, Integer India had undertaken an extensive study across India to map the shopping behaviour of consumers. Titled Check Out India, the study was designed to understand motivations and attitudes, rituals, and factors that influence shopping. The study was conducted across three geographical segments -Urban A – metro with a population of more than 1 million, Urban B – cities with population of less than a million and Rural India. The respondents included male and female shoppers in the age group of 18 to 55. The study threw up interesting findings around the frequency, priority and communication as seen by urban and rural shoppers. Going forward, the objective would be to keep conducting the study twice a year and present it to the marketers for deeper understanding into the mindset of the consumer.


As for its initial client list on board, Mr Nair said: “Right now we are just working on some projects with PepsiCo and P&G, but we don’t intend to go all out with this unit. We have just launched this study and will have to see how we could present the study in a relevant manner to the clients. I must mention that this is a category neutral study; we’ll have to go on a category level and find about more about the shopper relevant to that category so as to make it really relevant to a particular marketer. We are currently pitching to a few brands and should be able to make an announcement in 2-3 months time.”


On the growth that Integer is expecting from India, Mr Sethuraman said: “It is still a nascent market and we can easily look at a growth of 60-70 per cent in year one itself. But while a percentage growth may sound impressive, we have to say that the base is still small. The bigger task is to get clients to get used to this novel idea called shopper marketing and make it a genuine part of the communication mix.”


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One response to “Betting big on shopper insights”

  1. Webmaster C2m01 says:

    I too agree with Mr Sethuraman. Mobile shopping is still at a nascent stage in India. However, it is a good news that the country is also making progress in making mobile shopping popular among the customers or consumers.