The Rise of Performance-Driven Promotions

Funding of shopper marketing and trade promotion is increasing, but with varied results, putting the pressure on shopper marketers and trade promotion managers to be performance-based. To achieve this, a greater focus on the elements of execution and the collection of insights into what is happening at the store level is required.

In a publication titled “Winning through More Insightful, Better Executed Promotions,” the Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) evaluates the insights obtained from their 2016-2017 TPx and Retail Execution Survey in order to identify the key barriers to high-performance promotion execution. While their study primarily focused on trade promotions, our decade of experience managing shopper marketing execution for CPGs finds that the barriers identified directly transcend into shopper.

Four of the most common barriers to high-performance shopper marketing execution include:

1. Program Grandfathering
The same programs are often run over and over as if on auto-repeat, with often only minor changes made to key control elements. Rather than building new shopper marketing budgets based on evaluation of which programs are working and which are not, program funding is typically based on history and “perceived necessity,” rather than evidenced performance, which wastes budget and fails to surprise and delight the consumer with fresh creativity and engagement.

2. Lack of Qualitative Data
Program effectiveness is typically measured based on quantitative data, such as coupon redemption rates or in-store product sales. This data is usually not segmented by store or supported by contextual data, including in-store execution variables like location, proximity and competitor activity. It also often does not detail all program elements, from in-store to digital tactics, and the timing of each each. Without looking at the total program package, shopper marketers cannot understand how the removal or addition of any one tactic effects performance. It is the addition of contextual and qualitative data that can help shopper marketers build attribution models that reveal which specific variables are most critical to program performance.

3. Poor Retailer Compliance
Retailers are often permitted to take provided shopper marketing program assets and run programs on their own via set aside funding. At times, whether it be be that they do not fully believe in the program plan or understand what the critical elements are to driving results, retailers do not execute in compliance with outlined program guidelines, diminishing brand equity and wasting brand budget.

4. No Post-Event Analysis Automation
Many shopper marketers are only fully evaluating several of their lead programs at their top tier accounts, leaving the majority of programs absent from in-depth level analysis. This is typically because there is no way to automate the aggregation and reporting of this data into a centralized, readily available online system. Post-event analysis requires intensive manual labor by a network of individuals and the consolidation of each individual’s disconnected data into one spreadsheet. The POI study found that the greatest percent of promotions a CPG is able to evaluate is 40%, and that is because they have an analytical pool of dozens of individuals dedicated exclusively to this task. Most CPGs are only able to evaluate a small fraction.

In order to become performance-based, shopper marketers need greater ability to capture the cause and effect of their programs. They need an agile, highly automated software system that can capture multiple data complexities from various internal and external sources, and support analysis at the store-level. Knowing what drove or didn’t drive performance at the outlet level forms the basis for insights, which drives a greater desire for collaboration from retailers and a greater ability to deliver performance.

To learn how Cierant’s shopper marketing technology can deliver the store-level insights you need to advance performance, please call 203-731-3540 or email

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