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Jenny Myers

The Power of Social & Shopper Marketing


I recently read an article that claimed that the Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy Insights at Coca-Cola stated that their social media efforts only tracked 0.01% of sales.

I got to thinking about this and some of the challenges that we are faced with when it comes to activating both social media and shopper campaigns and I think that a lot of brand managers may be under the wrong perception that social efforts seem like a total waste in terms of commercial ROI.

I think this is a misconception and now more than any other time social and shopper must work hand in hand.

We know that TV commercials can largely be avoided; digital ads are also not having the same impact that they used to and outdoor media is now a blur of images and brands. As the UK grocery sector becomes increasingly competitive, retailers are beginning to recognise the influence social media has on the shoppers’ final purchase decision and are leveraging this to their advantage.

FMCG brands seem to be being a lot slower on the uptake though.

I believe that this is a lack of consideration of all touch points and what the strategy needs to be in order to engage and communicate with a particular audience. Instead, I am still witnessing big brands relying wholly on ATL campaigns and big media spends.  I think this is a poor investment judgement.

If we consider the path to purchase for many people these days, (not just millennials although they are obviously leading the digital and social generation) old school media just isn’t producing the coffers it used too. Everyone these days is digitally connected in some way or another and most people are looking for a connection to a brand or product that is more personal.

However, I can also understand the question that many marketers have when it comes to social media in terms of return. No, we aren’t able to attribute direct sales to a social media campaign (unless there’s a BUY NOW button!), but then the same can be said for a TV advert. The principles across these 2 channels are the same, it is all about branding and building brand equity.

Many Brand Managers will understand and know that on a lifetime value basis; emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. These emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more – everything you hope their experience with you will encourage them to do.

If we know this then why don’t we consider social media in the same way that we would consider a TV advert, billboard or any other form of branding? The difficulty with social is that it is a 2 way conversation and so needs to be relevant, fresh, on trend and very closely matched to the aspirations of the audience that we are talking to in order to be successful.

This is where social media creative and content gets interesting. Although its roots are very much entrenched in branding principles, the difference is that this is a conversation, rather than a brand imposing their beliefs and proposition onto an audience in the hope that it will resonate.

With shoppers seeking inspiration and opinions around potential purchases through social media, it’s crucial for brands to begin engaging creatively and effectively with their audiences through a more human led / personalised interactive approach. The return on investment cannot physically be attributed to social in a silo, but without this opinion led channel, many brands will be left behind and shoppers will abandon them for more influential brands.

When we link social marketing with shopper marketing, we open up the path to purchase and start viewing campaigns as a whole instead of rather than in media discipline silos, this in turn leads to more positive and impactful results. 

The best way to look at social efforts isn't through direct sales (who buys a Coke online?), but rather through engagement, brand awareness and building a community of advocates who will carry on a positive conversation about your brand even if you are not there!  Use social media as the glue to tie all shopper marketing tactics together. 

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