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Maximising success in convenience shopper marketing

Matt Beech Account Director at smp - Creative Marketing Agency
By Matt Beech  //  Thu 18th April 2013
Historically, the convenience sector has been a tricky area for brands to drive sales, but as the sector has started to become modernised and with changing trends in grocery shopping, the sector has opened up a real opportunities for grocery brands.

Convenience shopping in the UK is growing; according to IGD it now controls a 20.8% share of the grocery sector compared to 19.8% 5 years ago. This is led by the ‘top-up’ shop; 49% of shoppers are now making 3 or more grocery shopping trips a week. Symbol groups have begun to lead the way, with the total number of stores decreasing but the value of the sector increasing – they are starting to professionalise the channel, leading to a better shopper experience and a greater than ever opportunity for brands.

Due to the high frequency of visit, led by the top-up shop, in the convenience sector brands are able to reach their target shopper on a much more frequent basis through this channel versus the traditional top-end grocers. However, to date, very few brands are maximising the opportunity or working closely with convenience retailers. So how can you maximise success in the channel?

Act in partnership with the retailer:
In most cases, convenience retailers don’t have access to the same resources as the top-end grocers. Therefore, by working in partnership you can help them to optimise their store environment in such a way that supports both them and your brand. For example, P&G created a mobile app for their retailers that enabled them to create and view planograms for their stores. Offering support such as planograms, POS and merchandising are a win-win-win solution for the shopper, retailer and brand. The shopper benefits from a better range of products, a better display/in-store environment and more promotions. The brand benefits from improved listings and display in-store, as well as benefiting from the high visit frequency. This benefits the retailer as they have happy shoppers and supportive brands, helping to boost their sales and the value of their offering.

Understand what convenience shoppers want:
Convenience shoppers have a different mindset to shoppers in other channels. They want to get in and out quickly; they often know what they want; and they want it now. The current top 5 shopper missions in the convenience sector are:
  1. Top-up on staple products 
  2. Newspapers/magazines 
  3. Lottery 
  4. Alcohol 
  5. Cigarettes and tobacco 
With careful planning and a considered approach brands can increase sales by tailoring their offering to a shopper mission. For example, combining chocolate and wine for a big night in, or creating tailored meal deals for shoppers in the way that Marks and Spencer’s already do. If stores are mirroring shoppers’ meal plans then it helps to increase basket-spend.

Tailor your solution:
Every store is different in size, shape, location, customers. It is important to take a local approach when working in the convenience sector. Allow your solutions to be tailored to any environment but still hold relevance, and the retailer (and your brand) will see the benefits.

Push and pull strategy:
Promotions should be targeted to appeal to both the retailer and the shopper. Giving the retailer the tools to sell-through product will further incentivise them to stock it in the first place. We recently ran a convenience retailer loyalty scheme; retailers that signed up were supported with a POS pack and suite of promotions which they could run in-store, to give them the confidence that they would be able to sell the stock if they decided to list it.

When brands start to look at how marketing activity can benefit the retailer and the shopper, as well as themselves, they can drive real success in the convenience sector.

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