Two Retail Trajectories that are Transforming Brand Marketing, Even If No One Notices

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Carol Spieckerman's latest article for The Licensing Book, Winter Edition

While it may be too late to forecast what the year will bring to the retail scene, it’s never too late to look at the retail trajectories that most brand marketers are still ignoring. Here, I share two that are connected to the profound shifts that have already begun to transform brand marketers’ destinies. These will become even more important as the year progresses, whether or not anyone notices.

User Marketing Is the New Shopper Marketing

Shopper marketing has been all the rage in retail, even though it lacks a universally agreed definition. One area of contention is whether it is synonymous with in-store marketing or covers out-of-store experiences. When I’ve asked industry observers in the past, they have emphatically claimed that only one or the other is the case. The concept of shopper marketing and its companion premise of shoppers’ path to purchase are getting long in the tooth.

Many journeys now begin online, in stores, or from smartphones, and retailers are getting quite comfortable with the idea that not every path is a path to purchase.  Retailers are shifting their focus away from hindsight, analyzing past consumer purchases, and even going beyond tracking current shopping behavior in order to pioneer the next frontier: understanding purchase intent through user marketing and user-derived data. Sometimes people are into pure engagement with a brand, and retailers are deliberately making that option quite tempting by offering free games, recipes, apps, or just the opportunity to engage with their brands through social media. To retailers, it’s all good because they are developing the capabilities to derive insights from all of that activity as users engage on their platforms, even if they don’t buy a thing.

As a result of the user marketing movement, online engagement, social media, and e-commerce have become more strategic starting points for brand marketers, even before they open stores.  Read the rest of the article here (PDF).