By Julia Collis, The Bailey Group UK managing director.
As the year – and indeed decade - draws to a close it’s only natural to look ahead to 2010 and what it might bring. This, particularly so, given the unique nature of the challenges that the economy and ever-greater focus on accountability have brought.
Here, Julia Collis, managing director of The Bailey Group UK, details the top trends and themes ahead for field marketing. Some will be necessitated by the budget cuts of recent months, others by the opportunity afforded by rising consumer confidence and an expectation that the UK is almost out of recession.
1. CHECK AND FIX AUDITS
As brands fight for share of space in the grocers and on the high street, we can expect to see an increase in the number of audit requests. Brands will want to ensure that they are getting what they pay for and if they reveal non-compliance when in store, it will be in everyone’s interest for them to identify the cause and fix it, where possible, whilst in store.
This can be as simple as finding the stock (often lurking at the back of the warehouse), remerchandising it and renewing the SEL to ensure it’s footprint is safeguarded in the future, or by zeroing a book stock error.
Because consumers get a risk-free trial, these projects are becoming more and more popular. They increase sales at both sku (stock keeping unit) and category level, enhance the customer experience and create a buzz. And if sales data can be provided, sampling campaigns can also be very measurable.
3. MYSTERY SHOPPING
With consumer confidence returning and improving – the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed in November it was at an 18 month high – the use of mystery shopping is also likely to rise.
Not only do brands and retailers recognise the need to reward great staff service and performance through these motivational measures, but also appreciate the importance of identifying the poor performers and implementing training for them. Seeing their own service levels through the eyes of customers is sometimes a huge eye opener. Mystery shopping can also reveal regional variations and highlight opportunities.
4. TRAINING IN STORES
Budget cut consequences have, in some cases, meant that retailers have been forced to reduce their staff headcount or put a freeze on recruitment. That in turn has meant that some brands will now need to invest in-store staff training to improve performance at the point of purchase.
5. ONLINE DATA MINING
To prolong the customer experience and maximize the opportunity which exists from customer data, Field Marketing agencies can now pro-actively seek customer feedback on specific product launches via an online portal and then reward the customer with MONP vouchers to prompt re-purchase or tempt customers to try another product. This inclusive marketing tool shows the customer that the brand/retailer is listening and interested in their opinion.
6. TACTICAL SALES TEAMS
The convenience market continues to grow in a tough economic climate, growing 6.1% year on year to £29.1bn and accounting for 20% of the total food and grocery market, according to IGD figures. As convenience and high street stores seek yet more of the customer purse and footfall for local or top-up shopping, expect to see more tactical sales teams selling from the car to increase distribution or boost sales.
7. MEDIA PLANNING – SMALL STORE FORMATS
This increasing footfall into the local stores will also demand better media compliance ranging from screens to shelf edge labels (SELs) and dumpbins in a bid to improve sales and reduce out-of-stocks.
8. EVENTS & STUNTS
As customer confidence improves, unemployment levels bottom out and the housing market continues its recent upwards trajectory, the field marketing industry is like to see a resurgence of events and stunt activity.
They will put the ‘POW’ back into Power Marketing and re-engender the good feeling, which has been missing on the high street for the last 12 months.
With such a proliferation of new and overseas brands entering the UK market it is getting far harder to achieve cut-through without some aspect of field marketing. A cost-efficient way, and one that we expect to grow in popularity over the coming year, is through a field marketing brokerage solution.
Brands can buy into any number of turnkey solutions ranging from NAM (national account manager) and trade marketing support to local field reps and/or the full field marketing tool kit.
10. EMPLOYEE AND CUSTOMER SURVEYS
Brands and retailers are already stressing the need to assess the attitudes of their staff at all levels across the businesses in order to evaluate whether what was appropriate before the recession is still the case for today’s market place.
It is at least as important to gain an understanding of the customer’s viewpoint, particularly in light of changing consumer attitudes towards spending and shopping. Just carrying out general health checks can often reveal surprising results and opportunities.
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