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Walmart shopper marketing: a crash course

Brad Godwin, Walmart Team Lead 

This past June, Shopkick’s in-house Walmart expert Brad Godwin shared his thoughts on the complex world of Walmart shopper marketing at Supplier Community’s Fast 5 Conference.

Defining shopper marketing

In simplest terms, it’s the process of understanding your shoppers – who they are, how they behave, and the way they shop across multiple channels. More importantly, shopper marketing involves using this understanding to create a marketing mix that leaves a lasting impression on consumers, and further influences them to purchase your products. Here, I’ll dive into the importance of shopper marketing, and why it’s so crucial for brands whose products are sold at mass retailers like Walmart.

 

The power of the past

There’s no question that the shopping environment we live in has evolved greatly over the last several decades. In order to prepare for the future and brace for rapid changes in shopper marketing, we must first understand the past.

In the past, marketing decisions were much simpler, and the strategies used to influence consumers were not nearly as vast. The 60’s welcomed a new era of shopping with the introduction of Walmart’s mass retail format. With this shift, advertising changed as well, opening up several new opportunities for marketers. Just a few decades later, the 90’s brought on the era of the shopping mall, changing consumer shopping habits once again. Next came the internet, throwing a curveball to marketers everywhere as they quickly tried to figure out what to do with it and how to best incorporate it into their marketing mix.

Last came, you guessed it, the era of the iPhone. When the iPhone was introduced, it was clear that not only would it change the world, but it would change the concept of shopper marketing. Today, mobile devices are at our sides whenever we need them, but more importantly, they’re at the center of most marketing strategies across our wide retail landscape. While the iPhone completely changed the marketing industry and the way that we reach our customers, it’s just one amongst hundreds of effective strategies to choose from. However, marketers cannot take full advantage of these strategies if they don’t first understand their customer.

 

Customer is key

When creating a marketing strategy to sell a product, it’s always important to think about the customer. Who are they, and what does your brand, your message, and your marketing strategy really mean to them? What do they value, and how does your brand play a role in their everyday lives? One core Walmart shopper might be a young working mother with a family to feed. Another might be a millennial who grew up with Walmart, and now shops there as an adult on a budget.

In all things, Walmart makes sure that their marketing strategies align with the values of their many unique customers. These values include providing for and maintaining a happy and healthy family, feeling a sense of community, and making every dollar count. Additionally, Walmart recognizes that today’s family dynamic is changing. The retailer is taking strides to evolve with their busy shoppers, and incorporate new technologies and services to improve the customer experience. Brands must consider this when when building a shopper marketing plan around Walmart customers, and recognize the retailer’s growing omni-channel presence.

 

19 moments of truth

In addition to knowing your customer, it’s critical to make sure you are reaching them everywhere they are. The 19 moments of truth represent each and every possible touchpoint that retailers have to engage and convert their shoppers. These 19 moments cover all shopping actions from pulling into the parking lot, walking through the aisles, checking out, putting products away at home, and several more after and in between. While these touchpoints are obviously important to the retailer, they should also be important to the brand. Brands should look for ways to to step in and help out along these 19 moments to create better shopping experiences for customers.

One way that brands can help out their retail partners along some of these moments is to help provide fun, informative, and inspiring moments in store. To best explain this concept, we look to examples from products found at Walmart like Oreos and Brawny.

  • Have some fun! Oreo brought tons of fun to a Florida Walmart with a campaign to set a Guinness World Record as the most dunkable treat, and personalized the campaign just for the retailer. Oreo engaged Walmart shoppers as volunteers lined up to help break the record for the longest cookie dunking relay. The brand also took the fun worldwide by encouraging consumers to compete in the Oreo Games by submitting photos and videos while participating in Oreo related games at home. Oreo helped generate buzz not only around its own brand, but brought customer engagement to Walmart shoppers in store.
  • Get inspired. Another great example is an inspirational campaign brought forward by Brawny. Brawny is best recognized by the burly lumberjack that has marked its packaging for over 30 years. However, Brawny began to question what their brand really stood for. They knew their brand focused on strength, but what did that really mean? Brawny came to Walmart with an idea that highlighted their own brand values, as well as those of the retailer. Brawny launched a Walmart-only item with packaging that replaced the iconic lumberjack with women who exemplified a different kind of strength; a successful career woman, a female astronaut, and so on. The brand found a way to engage customers with inspirational messaging and packaging, while also incorporating the values that both Brawny and Walmart prioritize.

 

Finally, I’d like to leave you with five questions to ask yourself when developing ideas to incorporate into a Walmart shopper marketing plan:

  1. How does this idea and our brand help shoppers LIVE BETTER?
  2. How does this idea make EVERY DAY EASIER for busy families?
  3. How does this idea drive across WALMART’S OMNI-CHANNEL (19 Moments of Truth)?
  4. How does this idea BUILD BASKETS through practical solutions?
  5. How does this idea BRING THE FUN and ENTERTAINMENT to Stores/Online?

In order to build a successful Walmart shopper marketing plan, it’s crucial that brands ask themselves these five questions and make improvements wherever necessary. The best way for brands to check all five boxes is to first know the customer, but also to know the retailer. For the best possible outcome, brands must understand the goals, values, successes, and failures of their retail partner, as well as how to improve the lives of shoppers.

 

Shopkick helps our partners connect with consumers through a popular app which provides rewards for consumer interaction. To add our app to your marketing mix, contact us.

 

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Dima Volovik

EVP of Product and Engineering

Dima Volovik is the EVP of Product and Engineering at Trax Retail — Shopkick.

Dima Volovik is the accomplished product and engineering leader who led teams to deliver innovative and commercially successful e-commerce products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions for Amazon, Comcast, Fandango, and Universal Music. Before joining Trax, Dima was the Director at Amazon, where he led product development and Engineering for Amazon Appstore and Amazon Prime Video, CTO at Fandango, and Paciolan, head of technology at Golf Channel/Golf Now, and Global VP of Direct to Consumer Technology at Universal Music Group. Dima’s expertise includes developing consumer products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions.

Dima grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Azerbaijan Oil Academy, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his family.