Shopper Marketing and Digital Marketing are one and the same

Over on The Hub, I came across a great article by Stuart Armstrong on where retail will play in the marketing mix.  Armstrong writes:

“Which means that the future of marketing—the convergence of retail, the emergence of digital media networks and the cellphone as the linchpin—is not really the future at all. Because, as Geoffrey Frost noted, in a nod to science-fiction writer William Gibson’s famous quote, “The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

I find this point on convergence/emergence really interesting.  While P&G has placed increasing importance on Shopper Marketing, it is an area that is still in its infancy.  The same holds true for experts in digital (not interactive…but digital).  Digital experts are learning the world of not just interactive (ie traditional media applied to online) but also social media, mobile, consumer generated media and everything else that is digital today. 

The case can be made that the worlds of retail and digital are going to collide and they are going to collide very soon.  But I’m not sure if many clients OR agencies are recognizing this fact.  If you look at the major agency holding companies, most of them have their digital shops AND their shopper marketing shops.  Likewise you arent going to find many marketers that have spanned the world of both digital and shopper marketing during their careers.  Sure many have taken traditional brand / mass media backgrounds and layered on shopper marketing.  And many have done the same thing with digital. 

But it is only a handful of marketers that have thought how to take a traditional background and layer on expertise in both shopper AND digital.  It made sense just a few years ago when they were seperate worlds.  But these worlds are now converging and we all need to change…we need to change fast.  We need to understand that consumers can now become shoppers at any moment.  They no longer have to step into a store to shop.  It can happen online, on their cell phone or even on Xbox Live.  Those transactions taking place outside of traditional retail might be small now but that wont be the case in several years (ask the music industry about how fast iTunes made that happen).  Sounds like now is the time to start thinking about how shopper marketing and digital expertise are going to play together.  Will your brand be ready?  Your agency(s)?  You?


4 Responses to Shopper Marketing and Digital Marketing are one and the same

  1. Rufus Evison says:

    I have come from a solely digital background so I am particularly glad to hear this point of view. From the digital side of the world I have spent the last 11 years shouting that digital channels are just that, channels. They are not a separate area, just another way for the customer and the business to interact. That interaction can be sales, education, advertising or any of a million other things. If a company is based on retail sales then understanding, for instance, online is about understanding how to use online to interact with their customers as *part*of their retail business. I understand that Graham Thomas is going to be talking about how mobile becomes part of this interaction in Illinois next month. (
    May point is that it is not going to be a collision between retail and digital but an acknowledgement that digital has been a part of retail since e-commerce came into existence, This acknowledgement will lead to a collision of departments within companies and some changes of business practices but is not a collision of different businesses, nor even of different viewpoints on a business. All it will be is recognition of what the people using digital channels well have known all along on both sides of the fence.

    Rufus Evison

  2. Craig Elston says:


    Could not agree more with your assertion. I work for an agency that is working really hard on mashing the two together because we fundamentally believe they are not separate. Finding the right skill sets is often problematic and the development and training of those skills in the interim takes time and often depends upon the opportunities we are afforded or able to open up within our client base. So we all have to move toward this together – clients organisations and agencies alike. We’ve forged a really interesting relationship with Google and other leaders in the digital space to help with our own learning, bringing this together with our internal training on shopper marketing and we’re well on our way with this journey. So we think we’re some way ahead of most others.

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff, and it’s good to see Innocent smoothies being appreciated over here. A brand I miss.


    Craig Elston

    PS – liked your trends presentation you put up on

  3. Dave Knox says:

    Welcome to the discussion and it is great to see a shop engaging on both the shopper and digital fronts. I’m looking forward to reading both RetailMedia and ShopperCulture. Hope you continue to enjoy HardKnoxLife

  4. […] admin Posted In: Digital Tags: blogs + retail Responses RSS 2.0 feed. leave a response trackback Interesting Take on Point of Purchase and Digital Convergence […]

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