I had the privilege to be part of the round 2 judging panel in Chicago for the soon to be announced Shopper Marketing Effies. It was a nice opportunity to step away from daily work and not only review some great case studies, but dialog with fellow SM'ers about the work and the industry.
After investing a good amount of time reviewing a diverse group of case studies, I came away from the experience with four thoughts:
1. No one has the corner on the insights.
Insights aren't exclusive to one organization, category or brand. Insights don't have a preference towards organizational size or scale. While these may seems obvious, reviewing cases from both large and small companies was a refreshing reinforcement. I know this first hand, having moved from a large international ad agency in Chicago to a small agency in Charlotte two years ago. And I've loved the change, as I still deal in the currency of actionable insights. In fact, insights are even more valuable and critical here, as our work speaks louder than our brand.
2. A great insight doesn't need explanation.
While there were specific regulations as to what each case study should or shouldn't include, it was amazing how easy it was to pick out the great projects. They had the great insights and told a coherent story that was almost intuitive to arrive at. They didn't need a lot of further explanation or selling - their story wrapped up insights into powerful explanations of shopper behavior. Meanwhile, other cases used statistics, strategy or story to overcome their insight gap.
3. Relevant Insights + Powerful Activation = Great Shopper Marketing.
SM has expanded beyond the four walls of retail. It is physical, it is digital, and it is experiential. And because of this, the litmus test of a great SM campaign is the combination of insights + activation. Too little of one of these causes the campaign to crumble. The work that ends up delivering the results we promise finds the perfect marriage of a relevant insight and powerful activation. Both have to hit the mark.
4. It is an awesome time to be a Shopper Marketer!
If you are looking for the ability to do the same thing continuously for the same result, a career in shopper marketing is not for you. Shopper Marketing is a career in constant evolution: the retailer pendulum continues to swing back and forth, economic pressures continue to shift shopper behaviors, and evolving technologies continue to change the path to purchase. All of this adds on layers of challenge and opportunity - it is truly a great time to be part of this industry!