The store is where shopping happens, yet apparently many managers are “too busy” to visit. Yet there is so much value that can be gleaned from just a small investment in this activity, it’s worth finding ways to make it happen (and there are a few tips on this towards the end of the blog). Today a marketer who doesn’t know Facebook or Twitter intimately would be rightfully scorned – a shopper marketer who doesn’t understand stores should be too.
When I started in the consumer goods industry, working for United Biscuits in the UK, I spent the first six months or so as a field sales rep before being transferred into the head office key accounts team.
On my first day in the office I had fifteen minutes of precious time with the head of sales – three levels above me. He didn’t talk about strategy, ground rules, or even my future: He gave me one simple piece of advice: go to stores as often as possible.
“You’ll never spend too much time in stores”
That was in the pre-shopper marketing age. Two decades on, I’ve worked across three continents, led sales and marketing teams, set up a company and I still remember and quote that line.
And yet it seems the message, so obvious and true, didn’t get through to many people. Too many marketers and sales people I meet are apparently too busy to go to stores (though often not too busy to complain that they don’t have a budget for shopper research). When I start a project or coaching assignment, I take the team to a store. They typically go straight to their own category (and it is scary how many don’t know where to find it) and they ignore everything else.
The store (be it virtual or physical) is where it happens. Whatever the path to purchase, it ends up in a store. If it doesn’t happen there it doesn’t happen. Perhaps if someone had visited the Tesco store I blogged on a couple of weeks ago something might have been done, and one company could have benefitted.
“I don’t have time to go to stores”
Not enough time? Have a team meeting in a store. Meet a key account manager in a store. Sneak off for five minutes whilst doing the family shop. Rotate responsibility across your team to go to a store once a week and share pictures and thoughts in your weekly team meeting (we do this at engage and it is awesome – everyone, including the secretaries and admin team go – and it’s amazing what different people see!).
Go to a store today. Check out one other category (not one you work in). Check out other brands. Observe shoppers. Maybe ask them a question. Data from a store visit isn’t necessarily accurate. But it’s a great place to build hypotheses, to use to explore data further.
However often you go, it’s probably not enough.