EVERYTHING MUST GO
Retail brands have always been good at grabbing attention in the clutter and signalling their good deals. But it’s not as simple as it once was and retail specialists are increasingly needing to show an understanding of the entire shopper journey if they
Retail advertising has always been at the centre of the specialist versus generalist debate. Traditional retail, trade and below the line work has been shaped by the need to balance supporting both marketing and sales teams, and meeting the demands of constrained retail environments.
Generalists and mainstream agencies have typically never shied away from retail clients and the revenue they offer. However, some have failed to understand the operational intricacies of retail and some have held retail in disregard as lacking the creativity and intellectual challenge of the great above the line persuasion game.
In reality, most agencies handling retail work in New Zealand are neither exclusive specialists nor generalists. They tend to be somewhere inbetween, with a strength or two, but are open to any wider opportunities that are met either in-house, through supplementary freelancers, or with friendly partner businesses they blend with. The New Zealand market is often seen as too small to support pure specialists in the retail area.
“The supply side of today’s hybrid agencies is characterised by a fluid model of enthusiastic sales optimism and a scrambling structural adaptation,” says Energi’s Lew Bentley. “While this might be adequate in some situations it is more about willingness to serve than creating category leadership.”
A significant truth about
retail is that until very recently it has not evolved much at all and its dynamics were relatively simple. As retail expert Douglas Stephens puts it: “For almost its entire 200-year history retail has barely evolved from a big room with stuff in it that you can buy.”
But Bentley believes things have changed massively in recent times, and will continue to change quickly. Retail has morphed into a mix of models from bricks and mortar, to ecommerce, and subscriptions. We can now click and collect, or have it delivered. We can shop around the corner, or globally.
“The retail world is being radically disrupted in many different categories,” explains Bentley. Shopping is becoming more experiential, more innovative and there is a greater connection between our retail behaviour and other parts of our lives. Music shops barely exist anymore. Over 60 percent of us now buy Christmas presents from overseas. Eight percent of us have our groceries delivered directly to our home each week.
These changes in retail bring a disruption to the specialist versus generalist debate. It is no longer enough to tick a box on your website claiming you do retail advertising too. These disruptive times require a dedication to leadership in retail strategy, creativity and the mastery of technology.
According to Bentley, contemporary retail work requires insight into how shoppers (as opposed to consumers) behave, how channel strategies work, a much more complex understanding of how to command space and present brands creatively, and how to integrate brand activity and customer experiences.
Energi has developed its own demand generation strategic planning tool – Demandscope – building capability with shopping technology to enhance both online and in-store experiences. This new approach is being well received by existing clients and it is opening up new opportunities with new clients.
There are lots of agencies that do retail work. For many, the cadence of the sector means regular billing – and, in some rare cases, retailers such as New World and Rebel Sport (and, judging by last year’s Christmas ad, Farmers) are among the most progressive when it comes to brand building through creative, emotional advertising. Raydar is an example of an agency that is primarily focused on shopper marketing, a discipline that has grown as more FMCG marketing budgets are spent in-store on promotions.
“Raydar’s philosophy is
that shopper [marketing] is a mindset, not a channel,” says managing director Troy Fuller. “While we do specialise in in-store communication, we believe we must leverage a full media mix in order to maximise the effectiveness of our work. Although we don’t necessarily specialise in executing in pre-store media channels, we certainly consider ourselves channel neutral in how we deliver shopper strategy and creative.”
In most client relationships Raydar is the sole shopper marketing agency, working across the full range of activity, but it is a core philosophy that they play nicely with others. It means being good people to work with and always putting the client’s interests before their own. Raydar works really well with Colenso on shared clients, but also has strong relationships with other, likeminded, non-clemenger Group agencies such as Milk, Satellite, Unified and Impact PR.
Raydar has been through considerable changes in the last few years. Firstly, it has developed a really strong planning team with a specialty in understanding shoppers, how they make decisions and what makes them buy. As a consequence, Fuller sees its creative product as being far stronger than before. “No longer is shopper marketing just about the rational communication of functional benefits,” he says. “There is now far more scope to deliver creativity throughout the entire shopper journey.”
These disruptive times require a dedication to leadership in retail strategy, creativity and the mastery of technology.