A Deep Look Into Shopper Marketing And Promotional Lift Analysis (Podcast)

September 9, 2020
Rachel Robertson

In this episode of Coffee Chats with PulsePoint, we take a look at the crossroads between shopper and healthcare marketing. Rachel Robertson, measurement expert and principal consultant at Lift Bridge Consulting has the inside scoop on measuring sales lift on over-the-counter (OTC) product advertising. 

What is shopper marketing and why does it matter to healthcare marketers?

First off, you may be wondering what shopper marketing is. It’s still a relatively new term in the media-marketing world, but according to Rachel, it’s the practice of creating marketing plans specific to a retailer. Ultimately, the goal is to drive increased traffic and stronger sales to that specific retailer. To do so, the marketers need to understand the mindsets of their shoppers, depending on the kinds of trips they are making to the store, and then tailor their communications to those mindsets. 

As healthcare brands attempt to better understand how shoppers are buying OTC products – there’s a big difference between a quick trip to get first-aid supplies at Walgreens and a bulk buy of diaper cream and pain relievers at Costco, Rachel explains – they look to sales lift studies as their main method of measurement. Essentially, a sales lift analysis aims to discover if a media campaign has actually resulted in a lift in sales at the retailer in question. 

How has the pandemic impacted shopper marketing to improve promotional sales lift?

With the early wave of panic rippling through the population as the pandemic began, OTC sales spiked due to consumers gearing up in preparation for the fight against COVID-19. However, sales stabilized after the first two months and have been typical, if not slightly higher from last year.

IRI has created an online resource with dashboards that show the COVID-19 impact by retailer, region, or department.

Concurrently, the shift towards e-commerce already underway thanks to companies like Amazon has only moved faster and more severely away from traditional retail locations. There has also been an increase in curbside pickups, with more consumers being willing to do the bulk of the shopping experience online to limit contact and infection risks. 

E-commerce is also certainly the biggest challenge to shopper marketing because accurately measuring e-commerce requires pixels across every step of the checkout process. This is not always offered by retailers and is often associated with higher costs, making it difficult to measure every campaign. 

Where does shopper marketing fit into a digital world and how can digital improve promotional sales lift?

Digital marketers are often focused on the metrics that many marketers like Rachel refer to as vanity metrics: things like impressions, and frequency and viewability. These sorts of metrics help marketers measure their connection with their audience in very precise ways, but they don’t always provide the bigger picture that shows what’s truly working to convert views into sales. 

For shopper marketing experts like Rachel, directly and consistently measuring promotional sales lift is the key to success. She mentions that there’s a common misconception that measuring sales is only possible or effective for larger retailers with larger media campaigns. The truth is that sales lift data is almost always available to any size retailer, through first-party data and data giants like IRI or Nielsen, and it can be measured against any marketing tactic or campaign.

The methodology needed to measure promotional sales lift data varies, but a common tactic is called the difference of difference methodology. Before a campaign launches, marketers use baseline sales data to set up a control group made up of a selection of stores. These stores will not receive the campaign media, and they should accurately represent the rest of the stores that do receive media. Rachel also mentions that it’s very likely most marketers will have multiple promotions occurring, and that, ideally, the control group will still have those other promotions. The only thing being withheld is the specific campaign’s media of which you want to measure the impact. Then, it’s simply a matter of measuring the difference of pre-campaign versus campaign sales between the control group and the test groups. 

There are 3 keys to promotional sales lift analysis that you can take away from this: 

  • Access to quality sales data. Whether from the retailer directly or from big data companies, shopper marketers need strong data points to accurately measure media impact on sales.
  • Ability to keep media dark in the control population. This is just a matter of campaign management and marketing technology. If you have the right platform, you can handle this without issue. 
  • Consistency. Measure as many programs as possible to see what works for different situations. 

What should healthcare marketers remember moving forward?

With significant regulation in healthcare, flexibility and caution in measurement is critical. Navigating the privacy concerns associated with different measurement tactics is necessary in an industry that prioritizes each individual consumer’s personal information. Rachel explains that the type of promotional sales lift measurement performed by Lift Bridge, IRI and other big third parties solve this issue by using scan data instead of pixels. With this in mind, OTC advertising can greatly benefit from taking a page out of the shopper marketing handbook and measuring sales lift to improve campaign communications across a variety of stores and products. 

Liftbridge Consulting and PulsePoint are partnering up for OTC Advertising and sales lift studies. Learn more with a personalized demo.

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