Ideas out of nowhere

I consider myself an ‘Enlightened Brand Marketer’.

To me, this encompasses the best of traditional Brand with the best of Shopper Marketing. It is not enough to just build a strong brand with consumers. You must engage with shoppers in ways that polish the trademark and lead them to make a purchase.

This thinking first came about some time ago…

New to my role leading Shopper Marketing Strategy & Capability in the US for Coca-Cola, I reported to a very consumer and brand centric CMO. During one of our first conversations, we discussed our brands and the long held idea of consumer engagement. I put forth new thinking of how shopper engagement related and complimented the existing work.

She was completely against this, saying “after all, people spend 98% of their time as a consumer and only a little as a shopper”.

Rather than being shut down, she gave me an opening. Shooting back quickly, I said,

“100% of our sales come from shoppers”

She paused, smiled, and our Shopper Engagement Model was born. Fast forward to today…

I find myself not only recalling that conversation, but also am compelled to think about it differently.

I absolutely stand by the importance of understanding and delivering on shopper needs. But, today, technology is such a big part of people’s lives, the comment about spending a small percentage of one’s time as a shopper rings hollow.

When I consider how often I find myself sitting at home watching TV with iPad in hand researching a product, or, watch everyone else standing in the check out line at my local grocery store with mobile out perusing Facebook, I know these blurred lines are happening more and more.

If that is the case, then this idea of “Always Shopping” is a powerful one. One that requires us all to redouble our efforts to:

  1. Deeply understand what people (not just consumers and/or shoppers) need and how to satisfy those needs.

  2. Evaluate technology advances to learn how they do (or don’t) play a meaningful and motivating role with people.

  3. Strive to form richer long-term relationships that bring benefit to people and create better brands.

What skills do you think are most needed to become Enlightened Brand Marketers in the Age of Always Shopping?