Shopper Marketing Trends Report 2016

Survey Methodolgy

In mid-October 2015, several thousand U.S.-based CPG marketing executives were emailed a questionnaire to be completed online. The names were drawn from Shopper Marketing magazine subscription and Path to Purchase Institute membership lists, with an emphasis on those with director, manager or senior executive titles.

From those emailings, 196 CPG marketing executives submitted full or partially completed surveys, with 121 filling out the questionnaire completely. Each respondent was entered into a drawing for an Apple Watch Sport, which was awarded to Susan Barkalow of Mars Chocolate. The data was compiled and cross-tabulated by Irwin Broh & Associates, Des Plaines, Illinois.

When the editors of Shopper Marketing and the Path to Purchase Institute met in mid-September to set the course for our Trends 2016 survey, we knew we would include a handful of budget/funding questions as usual. And there are always important questions to ask about in-store/brick-and-mortar versus digital and e-commerce.

But our recent experiences conducting these surveys have told us that some of the most intriguing results have come when we ask the CPG/brand marketing executives we survey to rate the retailers.

Participants are guaranteed anonymity when responding (save submitting their email addresses if desired for a chance to win an Apple Watch Sport), so we believe we’re getting honest responses. And participants are directed to only answer for the retailers they’ve worked with in the last year.

Our Trends 2016 effort – fielded from Oct. 22-30, 2015 – garnered 121 fully completed and 75 partially completed surveys. And 62 of the respondents identified “shopper marketing” as their primary job function/area of responsibility.

In the survey, we had the participants rate 10 major retailers on their willingness to collaborate, their business prospects heading into 2016, and their success in building alternative fulfillment models.

Additionally, we asked which digital elements (from a list of 10) those same retailers typically request/prefer – from digital coupons and promoting on the chain’s website to working within the chain’s mobile app and paid search.

But it was two questions we asked about Walmart specifically that really grabbed our attention when the editors met in early November to discuss the results. We had asked just how much impact two recent statements/policy changes from Walmart were having on the manufacturers.

Fortunately, we also asked the participants to explain their answers. In return, we received a plethora of pithy, sometimes emotional comments. With some minor editing, we present many of those responses below – alongside complete survey results and analysis from our editors.

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INSTITUTE ANALYSIS: It’s interesting to note that survey participants who identified themselves as shopper marketers said a higher percentage of their programs contain both in-store and digital elements – 59%, versus 50% for all respondents. And while just over 30% of respondents said at least half of their digital shopper marketing activity is devoted to driving e-commerce sales, that number jumped to 72% for participants who classified their products/services as in the “specialty” category, which includes consumer electronics.

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INSTITUTE ANALYSIS: Keeping in mind that we haven’t asked the question in the exact way each year (e.g., for 2015 we asked how “path-to-purchase budgets” have changed), we’ve seen similar results in each of the last five years for how shopper marketing budgets have changed. Consistently, only 10-15% have indicated their budgets are decreasing. Take into account that in answering the budget questions, participants likely don’t have the actual numbers on hand and are answering in general terms. Where funding is concerned, it’s apparent that smaller companies are less inclined to have dedicated shopper budgets, but rather have shopper funded by sales or marketing. Our results indicate that a shift has occurred with shopper marketers now reporting into marketing more than sales. By comparison, GfK’s 2013 Futurescope study showed that 37% of shopper marketers reported into sales and 20% into marketing.