As Strategic Planners in the Shopper Marketing space, we think a lot about how to influence and change shopper behavior.   We ask questions like: How can we get our brand in shoppers’ consideration sets and on their lists? More importantly, how do we get it in their cart, instead of a competitor that sits on the same shelf?   Because, in the end, the job of shopper marketing is really to get someone to stop considering and start buying, right?

We think a lot too about how and where to communicate with shoppers on their path-to-purchase.  FSIs are a tool we often use to reach and influence people before they shop – taking time to create break-thru ideas that will motivate someone to clip our coupon and buy our brand.

Manufacturers love them, but are they all they’re cracked up to be?

Case in point.  As a value-seeking shopper, I regularly check out the Sunday paper to see what deals I can ‘score’.   Back to School meant hitting the ‘mother load’.  Three sections.  Ninety-two pages. 129 unique ads.  Products ranged from baby food to denture cleaner and incontinence protection for seniors, and everything in between.   Which made me wonder … how effective can FSIs be if they’re trying to promote LifeAlert to seniors and cosmetics to young college-bound women?  Do college-age women even read the newspaper in this digital age? (Not really.)  So is that money a good investment?  The less than 1% average redemption rate suggests not.

My Planner voice says, but “it’s an inexpensive way to reach a mass audience and tell our brand’s benefits and point of difference.”  But, I observed my own behavior, turning page after page in less than a second, because actually reading 129 ads would take hours.  On auto-pilot, my shopper voice asks, “Need it?  Want it?  How much off?”  And so it goes.

As a marketer, it’s time to challenge conventional thinking and ask new questions:

– Is there a more effective way to engage a target without 99% waste?
– How (& where) else can we communicate and actually build our brand?
– What alternatives can drive conversion without as deep discounts?
– Can other shopper efforts compliment FSI’s to help improve retention & lift?

I don’t have all the answers, but as a Planner, I love asking the questions and would love to test the possibilities. Would love to hear your thoughts.