Turning shoppers into buyers is the new job at hand for advertising agencies which believe in steadily expanding their creative functions in the retail space. Recently O&M floated its Retail Practice as a separate division. It was preceded by Dra ftfcb + Ulka setting up a similar outfit as part of its Cogito Consultancy services. With the purpose of capturing a potential shopper and closing the sale, advertising agencies believe that they can create communication which would be a logical extension of their creative services.
Early this year, Draftfcb + Ulka invited Jim Lucas, Executive Vice-President & Director (Shopper Marketing), to launch a special outfit to provide retail advice to marketers and retail companies through Cogito Consulting, the agency’s independent brand consulting division. An acknowledged founder of the science of retail ecology, Lucas has helped retailers, manufacturers, and service providers to motivate shoppers through value-added experiences. His clients have included Burger King, CVS, Frito-Lay, Kelloggs, K-Mart, Kraft, Kroger, McDonald’s, Mervyns, Procter & Gamble, Quaker Oats, SCJ, Sears, Target, USPS and Walgreens.
The intention is to bring in global tools and learnings. Lucas said, “Because of the number of shopkeepers in India, retail has a strong possibility of not going through the various stages in shopper marketing, but witnessing a leapfrogging.” A shopper marketing programme needs to be created, he said, so that relevant shopper solutions can be provided. There must be alignment with retailer goals so that the retailer, the brand and the shopper all move towards their respective goals.”
Explaining the trend of advertising agencies venturing into the retail space, Sanjeev Bharghava, COO, Draftfcb + Ulka, says, “Advertising agencies have for long been the custodians of consumer knowledge. Till very recently, this knowledge was utilised to create mass media and below-the-line communication with a focus on brands and their interaction with them. With the retail environment becoming more evolved and consolidating through nationwide chains, agencies can now use this knowledge of consumer behaviour at the field level.”
With modern retail growing fast in the country, the buying behaviour of consumers is changing and becoming more complex. Agencies claim it is the understanding of this very aspect that is the starting point for them to communicate effectively with the consumers so as to maximise the share of its clients’ products and brands.
As Rahul Saigal, Vice-President (Retail), at O&M, claims, “With modern trade, the retail environment itself has become far more conducive (than it was in the form of kirana stores) to communicating with consumers. The retail space has evolved into a medium of communication. Advertising agencies now understand this transition of the retail environment, from merely being a physical store that sells products to being a medium for interaction with consumers. As experts in understanding how brand relationships are brought to life, through the use of media, above- and below-the-line, advertising agencies find themselves strategically suited to offer solutions to brands that want to use retail spaces as a medium of communication.” Retail is going to be one of the key areas of focus in O&M’s future outlook. The retail practice will reinforce the 360-degree brand building offering with the purpose of strengthening its clients’ brands.
Adds Saigal: “The retail consulting and design space is not new to Ogilvy. We have been working closely with clients in extending brand relationships in a synergistic manner, all the way from above-the-line campaigns to the very last mile. However, with modern retail having truly evolved as a critical medium of communication, we have now set up a dedicated practice with specialised resources to serve our clients in a more focused manner. Our edge comes clearly from our years of working with brands in establishing relationships with consumers at all points of the purchase funnel. Ogilvy, as an agency, has invested heavily in models, capabilities and research in India and other parts of the world. This enables us to marry fact-based shopper and retailer insights with brand strategy and eventually create activation ideas that ‘close the sale’ for our clients.”
Initially the retail practice set up by agencies is expected to concentrate on the point of purchase and would offer activation and communication ideas that work on building relationships between clients’ brands with shoppers once the latter enter the retail environment. However, over a period of time, the services could move upwards, for certain clients, where the retail practice will manage the entire relationship from a 360-degree perspective and offer both above- and below-the-line services. This would depend entirely on the business context and the issues that the client is trying to address through its agency.
“Today very few agencies are doing work beyond creating point-of-sale material. Ogilvy will work in an extremely focused manner on marrying shopper insights with effective design and excellent on-the-ground implementation capabilities. Ogilvy’s track record in being able to successfully connect with consumers, in an effective and synergistic manner at each stage of the purchase funnel, for brands across categories, will surely set this agency apart from others,” claims Saigal.
With the purpose of building communication at the point of sale, advertising agencies believe they are equipped to turn shoppers into buyers. As Sanjeev Bharghava, COO, Draftfcb + Ulka says, “The core business of advertising agencies such as ours is communication. The new model that Draft has adopted internationally is media-agnostic. What this means is that we recognise that there has been a proliferation of touch points with the consumer and the most effective way of reaching the consumer is by being effectively present at as many touch points as possible. Retail experts are just that. The acid test of the retail exercise is how well we can communicate with the consumer after having understood the retail environment. And that is where the expertise of the advertising agency comes in.”
Equipped with learnings from the respective parent companies, agencies claim they are ready to create retail-based communication.
As Bharghava claims, “At Draftfcb we have enough learnings from the parent company which has been involved with shopper marketing across big clients for the past several years now. Specific areas such as understanding and leveraging retail ecology, being developed by Draftfcb internationally, will be key to this endeavour ... studying the shopper path to purchase and modifying the retail environment for the benefit of client brands is another key area in which we can leverage our key learnings.”
Claiming a competitive edge with the learnings, Bharghava further adds, “The key to the new science is to understand the difference between the consumer and the shopper. At Draftfcb, this difference has been sharply defined. Development of communication at the retail level to address this alter ego of the consumer will help us get a competitive edge. Bringing this knowledge to bear on the emerging market in India is thus the next logical step.”
Mudra’s new brand strategy and design consultancy unit, Water, also offers retail as one of its functions. Ashish Mishra, Chief Strategic Officer, Water, describes the trend as “a category vertical which offers a business opportunity in terms of providing a natural corollary for agencies to extend an idea into the retail space.”
But at the end of the day, clients expect their agencies to close the sale and get the shopper to become a buyer. With the promise of delivering results, Saigal says, “We will work closely with our clients and focus on the critical point of purchase where up to 70 per cent of decisions are made. We will apply fact-based shopper and retailer insights to brand strategy to create activation ideas. We will then deliver practical execution of these ideas and measure their effectiveness. In short, we will turn shoppers into buyers: We will help ‘Close the Sale’.”
6 months ago