Shopper Marketing Expo — Vendor Q&A

Drug Store News editors talked to vendors at the Shopper Marketing Expo from Oct. 8 to 10 at Navy Pier in Chicago about what they were hoping to get out of the event and the buzz among the companies at the show. To view pictures of the vendors, click here.

Bryan Leach, CEO, ibotta

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Leach: Great conversations with industry leaders about what is coming next in digital and mobile — we are trying to position our company as thought leaders in this space, but you can always benefit from other people’s thoughts and suggestions and be inspired by their own innovations.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Leach: We’ve had conversations with many potential partners [and] our existing clients wanting to expand their services with us. [It is an] opportunity to tell people that we are the 16th most frequently used app in the country, and that we have greater reach on mobile than any other participant in this expo. That is a great opportunity for a small company based in Denver that, otherwise, can’t get all of these people in the same place cost effectively.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Leach: We work with 80,000 retail locations and 300 CPG brands. We don’t believe in coupons — we are almost the only ones who have that point of view. Our perspective is that interaction, engagement and loyalty building is what you should do on a phone. You shouldn’t slap a weekly circular onto a phone and call it a digital coupon. We believe that videos, recipes, social media — that’s how you engage and build loyalty. ...  I think it is opportunities to use geo-prompting [and] geo-fencing techniques that can help retailers acquire new shoppers who aren’t using their own app. You need a third-party app to help you do that, and we are trying to position ourselves as a third-party partner that can drive trips to retailers and help brands acquire incremental purchases of their products.


 

Bob Landaal, VP sales and marketing, Landaal Packaging Systems

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Landaal: We are trying to gain a little bit of exposure. We are a family-owned and operated company; relatively small and [we’re located in Michigan]. [And], it is always nice if you can walk away with a client or two.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Landaal: I think from a brand standpoint, the challenge continues to be driving cost out. And then there’s a lot of buzz around the technology side of things — interaction between consumers, the brand at retail and the different technologies that are out there.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Landaal: I think the main challenge is going to be cost at retail. Shoppers who are on a fixed [income] and maybe getting them to buy something that isn’t a generic brand — I think that’s an issue. I also think that the engagement side is the million-dollar question. How do you get the shopper to stop and engage with your brand? That has to be done through creativity and having some point of difference.


 

Justin James, director of marketing, Jingit

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

James: For us, it is really retailer engagement … because the heart of our engine is a payments platform. For us, [the way] to help consumers and shoppers the best is if we can tie into the point-of-sale, and that takes the retailer’s partnership.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

James: It is definitely mobile and digital conversations and engagements  — [that’s] what we really keep hearing from everybody. Even the keynote speeches have been a lot about mobile and digital, and how that is driving where we are going past just traditional media.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

James: It is just [the] adoption rate right now. There’s so much going on and I think a lot of people are [wary] of what this is and how to do it. It is giving people reasons to engage in some of the new technology and that has really happened with smartphones. … We are able to keep a community together and we can build continuity over programming time.


 

Edward Carroll, Group VP solutions, Incontext Solutions

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Carroll: [To] illustrate and create awareness around the capabilities that are really evolving in the virtual research space. Bringing to life concepts in a virtual environment and being able to incorporate online respondents to get feedback on the concepts that are looking to be implemented at retail — that is really the basis of what we focus on. Illustrating how effective using online shopper research can be in virtual environments is really the key focus.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Carroll: As far as manufacturers and retailers, it is trying to come up with ways to be more collaborative. [That may mean] more effective in-store concept design and collaborating a little bit further upstream so that at the point of implementation everybody is on the same page and you get more effective implementation. How can we get more into the minds of shoppers? [We want to know] what we can do to have a better understanding [of the consumer] so that we can facilitate a shopping experience that is going to be more emotionally connected to them versus just throwing something out there and hoping for the best.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Carroll: I think … angst, price and time are really the three currencies that most people are trying to come up with solutions [for]. With categories getting larger and more products being introduced, some of the things that we are doing around point-of-sale, signage, different category arrangements and configurations [are] to try to facilitate an easier shopping experience for people so you can remove some of that angst and some of the time constraints.


 

Christopher Papa, chief marketing officer, and Phil Kanaby, CEO, Coupon Wallet

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Papa: We hope to build as many relationships as we can with big-box retailers and CPG manufacturers so that they can help us [expand] our product into the market and really tailor our product to fit their needs.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Papa: I think there have been a lot of people who see the transition into a mobile solution and are very interested in what the future is going to hold for digital coupons.

Kanaby: There’s also a very big struggle between the different players involved. A lot of the CPGs would really like to move forward but they have to tie-in with everyone involved in the process. The marketing agencies need to work with the technology, and a lot of the clearing houses have to adopt the technology to be able to do some of the digital couponing and pull coupons off mobile devices.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Papa: I think one of the biggest challenges is that the businesses don’t necessarily connect with their audiences — the people who are going into the stores and actually buying their products. … One of the ways that our product can help is to actually connect with those people who are using the coupons, deliver them more coupons and connect with them and build a captive audience for the business.


 

Denise Vardakas-Styrna, senior marketing manager, and Scott Pearson, senior account executive, DataXu

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Vardakas-Styrna: This is our first time exhibiting at Shopper Marketing Expo. We’ve been doing some of the other Path to Purchase Institute events … we …really [want to] build brand awareness among the shopper marketing community on both the brand side and agencies.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Vardakas-Styrna: We focus on digital marketing so there is a lot of buzz about different types of innovation that are popping up. … Target and Amazon are two of the biggest names that we’ve been hearing [about, and how] they are really pushing the envelope on what you can really do with digital marketing for shoppers.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Pearson: Where we are primarily involved is driving people to the store, so that is our main objective. [For] some of our large CPG clients, we will help them locally target specific retailers to drive traffic to the store.


 

Barry Soicher, CEO, AdPerk

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Soicher: To meet retailers, CPGs and partners throughout the industry, and to let people know that the industry is changing with new content solutions.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Soicher: People are surprised that content is so important in the equation for shopper marketing and that companies … can partner together to bring a new, very unique solution to market.

DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Soicher: I think the challenge is they have a lot to look at, and I think the solution is choice, relevance and value. So, customers actually like to make a choice. They like things that are relevant to what they are shopping for, and they like to get value at the same time. That is the solution that we try to address — choice, relevance and value — so that the customer experience is really rewarding.


 

Darby Williams, VP marketing, Quri

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Williams: We’re an early-stage company, and this is the first time we’ve publicly shown what we do, so we want to build awareness, No. 1, and we want to get feedback about what we offer and then find prospective customers. …The problem we solve is [helping] brands that try to sell a lot [of product] through physical stores … execute flawlessly; if the product’s not there; if the display’s not there, they’re not getting the full revenue from it. We solve that problem by having a crowd-source force that finds out where the problems are and immediately alerts the execution team to fix the problem. … So if they’re non-compliant, we have an alert that goes out to all stores who are non-compliant, and it gets fixed.
 
DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Williams: The big buzz for us is they didn’t realize how bad execution was in the stores. … Displays on average are in only half of the stores — 49% are non-compliant. … And the next biggest problem is promotional pricing. To do a major promotion, I’m going to discount my price, and I’m going to do a lot of advertising to make sure that people know when they go in [to the retailer]. [Twenty-two percent of stores] … never get that price set properly.
 
DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Williams: [The brand’s] products aren’t being presented the way they want them to be presented. … So the problem is [they] need to know how well they’re executing and, if they’re not executing, how it can be made perfect.


 

Alan Foshay, VP business development, Rapid Displays

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Foshay: We try to stay on the leading edge of technologies that are shopper-facing; we’re here promoting an NFC-based technology at the show to try and get that game started. … It’s very applicable to the retail trade. We’re hoping it catches some traction here. The speed at which it’s going from a new technology to something that’s got applications and commercializations is really moving fast.
 
DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Foshay: The feedback that we’re getting is that Near Field Communication-based technology is applicable. There’s a little bit of anxiety about going first, as there always is, but the economic barriers are not there. The utilization barriers are not there. I think there’s pretty good buzz about this.
 
DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Foshay: It’s allowing a shopper who is a smartphone user to experience something in-store that requires them to do something in-store, as opposed to showing them [something]. For example, I can deliver a message to an individual shopper that provides them with an incentive to do something in store and transact, vs. sending a coupon to their mailbox; sending an email blast to their email. And it’s short, sweet and fun, not intrusive.  


 

Jon Kramer, chief marketing officer, RockTenn

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Kramer: We’re here to get exposure to a wide range of CPG marketers and retailers, to help them understand how we’re approaching the business, … which is all about how we deliver innovation, execution and low cost to the marketplace and turn shoppers into purchasers. … We do it in a number of ways. We do it [by] understanding that shoppers, when they get into a store, are focused on solutions. We create shopper solutions, which are multiple brands and multiple categories, and put them together.
Secondly, we understand that shoppers need to be aware of in-store material, so we develop very attractive, very impactful material in a very efficient way. We bring a lot of insights into the marketplace. For example, my background is all around shopper insights and shopper marketing. So to have that embedded in a display company is very unique.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Kramer: That they need to understand the return on their investment. There are so many alternatives today to communicate with consumers and shoppers that they need to understand how their programming turns into volume. … What’s interesting to understand is that return on investment is not only about dollars and cents, it’s relationships with customers; it’s relationships with shoppers; it’s relationships with consumers. How do you feed that entire food chain — that path to purchase? And understanding how to activate that, for your brand — and your category, which is very different — all along those touch points.
 
DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Kramer: Shoppers today have so many different ways to engage with products and categories in the store. It’s a very confusing ecosystem because you’ve got mobile technology; you’ve got screen technology; you’ve got computer tablet technology; and every shopper is interacting in a different way. Do they pre-shop and have a list? Did they have the list on their phone? Did they download coupons from the Internet? You really don’t know.
We’re looking to interrupt that shopping trip — our job is “shopping-trip-interruptus” — and the way we do that is with very powerful messaging and very powerful visuals that really are designed to stop the shopper. For example, if you look at our auto insurance display, that is a powerful message because it’s a car that’s had an accident. So right away you go, “Wait a second, what is that?” You’ve got to grab the shopper’s attention, because when you think about it, they are there in the store … to do one thing — that’s get out of the store. So you have to turn shoppers into stoppers, and those stoppers into browsers and those browsers into buyers. The way to do that is with messaging, visuals and powerful structures that communicate brand equity and, at the same time, deliver the value of the brand at the point-of-sale.


 

Jane McPherson, chief marketing officer, SpyderLynk

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

McPherson: One of the nice things about this show is that there is so much great merchandising and innovation [here]. What we’re hoping to do is share the innovations we’re bringing to the marketplace, see what innovations are going on with other manufacturers and technology providers and be a part of that ecosystem.

DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

McPherson: We see a lot of excitement in mobile … about bringing mobile to the path to purchase, and using that to help convert consumers and drive them through the path to purchase in a more effective manner.
 
DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

McPherson: There’s so much clutter in the marketplace because everybody’s focused on the wrong thing. Everybody’s focused on delivering more content, and people need to be more focused on solving problems for the consumer. When we start solving problems for the consumer, that’s when we really start listening to them. They’re going to start listening to us and inviting us into their phones and inviting us into their lives, rather than just sharing content with them because they are being blasted with so much content. Some of the solutions we have are allowing consumers to snap the tag and then surf from our platform [for] coupons that can be pushed into coupon books in their phone or on some kind of password-protected website.


 

Kathy Beck, senior director product marketing, Revionics

DSN: What are you hoping to get out of the Shopper Marketing Expo this year?

Beck: One is, because Revionics is not recognized in marketing circles, social commerce is our first foray into digital engagement. Typically, we communicate with the merchandising side of the organization with our optimization solutions. So now we need to talk to marketers. And this gave us our first foray. … This is our first real opportunity to be at a trade show communicating with marketers.
 
DSN: What has been the buzz among the companies that you have met with here at the Expo?

Beck: There are two messages. The collaborative effort has to take place at a strategically high level, bringing together the insights the CPG [manufacturer] has on the consumer and the retailer’s understanding of their shopper segments to create localized communications and messages that resonate with shoppers and drive loyalty for both the [CPG] brand and the retailer’s brand: strategic, targeted, shopper engagement.
 
DSN: What are the key challenges today in engaging customers at the store level, and how is your company helping retailers and CPG companies meet and overcome those challenges?

Beck: The way people look at social at this time is more as an inspirational and aspirational vehicle as opposed to a way to drive new customer acquisition and sales. … There is so much more you can do than just having a Facebook page that you post on. What we enable is shopper engagement, recognizing who your loyal shoppers are and who is socially active, [and] being able to inspire them through different forms of communication because an advocate is different from the fan base. And you might want to give two totally different messages to the advocate — the person you’ve identified as [having] broad social reach — [and the fan].