I’m often struck, when visiting consumer goods companies, by the number of awards on display and I’m most drawn to those given by retailers for being the “best supplier”. It’s funny though that I’ve yet to come across “best retailer” awards given by their suppliers. I thought it might be fun to think about this from a shopper marketing perspective. I think that the following four criteria could be used by Shopper marketers in judging who would win their Best Retailer award .
1) Ability to attract the right shoppers – From a shopper marketing perspective, retailers that draw a brand’s target shoppers are really valuable. A retailer that is able to capture the precise groups that you might target, is one with whom you really should work. If that retailer can capture these groups in large volumes then they are definitely worth a vote. Applying a five-point scale; retailers with higher shares of target groups should get higher score (4 or 5) than those with small concentrations (2 or 3) or no target shoppers at all (1).
2) Ability to influence shoppers in the store – the whole point of marketing to shoppers is to influence purchase behavior so that brand consumption can be increased. If a retail environment has no power to influence shopping behavior then arguably it’s less valuable than one which does. Think about it, inert environments which shoppers skate through on auto pilot might be great for re-enforcing habits but they are potentially far less valuable than stores and web-sites that have the power to create new habits. I appreciate that scoring this might be relative to what you actually want for your brand – for instance you might want to fix habits if you have a high market share to maintain, but most brands these days are looking for growth, which means they need to change a shopper’s behavior. Score retailers who have a high potential to create the behavior you need either 4 or 5 and those who have little or no impact on your target shoppers’ behavior 1 or 2.
3) Willingness to test new (good) ideas – In this case though the onus is on the marketer to ensure new ideas are good ideas. Good ideas for retailers are ones that deliver both commercial results in the short-term and support their strategies in the long-term. I think awards should go to retailers who are happy to embrace good new ideas and give them a try to see what happens. For instance, I think 7-Eleven should get kudos for taking in new lines and trying them, if only for three weeks, likewise I think online retailers who work with brands to try a shift in tactics and measure the outcomes should be valued. Conversely, those retailers who wait for someone else to prove an idea, or worse simply ignore a good idea even when it has been proven should be shunned. High points (4 or 5) go to those retailers who are prepared to try ideas and measure the results even if the conditions attached seem tough.
4) Ability to execute quickly and consistently – one of the things I like so much about convenience stores is the consistency they deliver. I appreciate 7-Eleven might be expensive to deal with but in most markets, if they agree to a change, it gets delivered across all stores. This has got to be prized by shopper marketers. Retailers who can consistently deliver quickly are more likely to create behavioral change across a wide range of target shoppers, and therefore can deliver great results quickly. Give 4 or 5 points to those players who deliver and conversely score those with patchy, poor and inconsistent delivery in-store 1 or 2.
Using these criteria to judge retailers gives some useful insights:
16-20 Points – “Award winners” – these retailers get things done and influence a broad number of target shoppers – work with these guys more in the future.
12-16 Points – “Runners-up” – getting things done with these types is harder and or it’s tough to influence a broad shopper base. These should be a shopper marketer’s second priority.
8-12 Points – “Also-rans” – these guys are likely to be major time-wasters – either they take forever to convince or if they are easily convinced, they have little or no influence on the shoppers you are targeting.
4- 8 Points – “Losers” – Seriously, walk away! There’s little or no point in diverting extra time and effort to these guys but watch out if they are your biggest customers!
I’d be happy to curate submissions for the best (and worst retailers) globally judged by these tests, feel free to cast you votes in comments below!