Colgate’s 7 Steps to Building High-Value Shopper Solutions

As a member of a company that intricately manages the retail execution cycle of CPG programs daily, I found it of interest to attend Colgate-Palmolive’s seminar “Building Value with Shopper Platforms” at the 2016 Path to Purchase Expo, presented by Barry Roberts, Director of Retail Shopper Solutions and Marie-Agnes Daumas, Director of the Shopper Marketing Center of Excellence.

The seminar began with a look back into the beginnings of Colgate’s shopper marketing program. Eight years ago, the company defined their shopper marketing approach as: “Motivating targeted shoppers to choose in an omnichannel environment while building brand equity.” This was to become their global initiative, and they strove to gain a holistic understanding of the consumer and build shopper marketing as a competency across the organization, which they supported with continuous learning and a center of excellence.

With promotions, often referred to as “platforms,” being the cornerstone of any effective shopper marketing program, Colgate began to develop their shopper marketing strategy by first defining what a shopper marketing platform is to the Colgate organization, and came up with the following: “An engaging shopper solution that fulfills a shopper need and in doing so, drives business growth.”

“Think about platforms as solutions,” said Daumas. “For example, buying a new toothbrush can be offered as a solution to address shoppers’ concerns about family health and wellness during back-to-school season,” she noted.

Next, Roberts and Daumas outlined the seven steps to creating high-value shopper platforms:

1. Identify the Business Need: Evaluate gaps in the commercial grid with the customer and overlay pain points or business issues with opportunities. In finding an intersection between retailer and manufacturer strategies, you can achieve a joint growth opportunity and work together to see where fewer, bigger and better shopper platforms can be planned.

2. Choose the Type of Program: Consider the type of program you wish to deploy, as there are many different kinds with very different purposes and goals. The four key “shopper solution” types Colgate defined and commonly employs include:

  • Event-Driven: Platforms that link your brand to a seasonal event that features in retailer calendars. Examples of this platform type include Colgate’s “CP/KC Back to School” platform, where they tied in the back-to-school season with the concept of “setting your kids up for success with healthy habits,” in addition to their “Tom’s Earth Month” platform, where the all-natural toothpaste showcased its commitment to the environment by encouraging moms to participate in a toy recycling program.
  • Equity Solutions: Platforms built to strengthen the brand’s core attributes and brand image, often through emotional appeal. An example is Colgate’s Suavitel Fabric Softener “Thank you Mom” campaign, which appealed to emotion via commercials featuring children thanking their “mommies” for the softness of their blankets, perfectly released around Mother’s Day.
  • Basket Solutions: Platforms where your brand and product is thought of in context of what is in the shopper’s basket at that particular time, such as a product that would complement a basket during a shopper’s pre-flu season stock-up trip or “rescue trip” when they or a family member has the cold/flu. Colgate promoted a new toothbrush as a pre-flu season stock-up trip basket item essential.
  • Customer Collaboration: Platforms driven by customer priorities but aligned with a manufacturer priority to deliver a win-win. Daumas emphasized how these platforms do not always need to feature a discount as the form of incentive if the call-to-action carries enough relevance to the shopper. An example of this is when Colgate partnered with Safeway in a sustainability initiative. They created the “Save Water” platform, which emphasized the amount of water that can be conserved by turning off the faucet while brushing one’s teeth. The Super Bowl commercial was silent yet incredibly effective, featuring a man brushing his teeth and children in poverty coming and taking drinks from his running faucet.

3. Make it Insights Driven: Ensure that the platform has relevance and value to the target shopper and that the retailer has loyalty data available that they can provide to you. “You want to amplify based on that retailer’s customer, so you need to understand customer insights,” Daumus said.

4. Create Compelling Creative: Design creative that engages and inspires beyond the basic pack shot with copy. Emotionally-orientated creative can provide powerful engagement, but be sure to test creative among target audiences as what you might think works may not be as intuitive to the target shopper. One example of visually compelling creative Colgate did was for the “Invisible Nasties” platform, which dynamically illustrated the millions of bacteria looming on a toothbrush one has kept for over the recommend three months.

5. Amplify with Scale & Visibility: Identify additional channels and partnerships that can give scale and drive basket relevance, such as targeted social media posts, blogs and videos. Adding additional touchpoints across the path to purchase can help to deliver the platform at-scale and increase visibility.

6. Demonstrate the Value: Demonstrate the value of shopper platforms in order establish them as a sustainable strategies by benchmarking against trade and consumer investments. Other measurements should include quality of support, category growth, customer KPI’s and the customer return on relationship.

7. Incorporate into Commercial Planning: Insert platforms into longer lead planning as they can take time to develop properly, require significant resource and must have a valid place on the commercial grid.

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