Depending on who you talk to in the packaged goods sector between 50% and 70% of all marketing expenditure is allocated to the somewhat mysterious activity known variously as trade support or shopper marketing.
This takes many forms from the writing of large checks in exchange for display space, to the delights of in-store TV, floor talkers and shelf wobblers and all the myriad variations of the BOGOF (buy one get one free). The practice is pervasive for two reasons. First the balance of power between retailers and brands in the category is in the hands of the retailers. Secondly results are immediate and quantifiable. It seems that which you give away free is easy to count.
A consequence of this approach is that the short term effect of tactics are possibly overvalued in comparison with the longer term strategies that create social relevance and that create underlying demand for brands.
The parallels between this feature of the analog marketing world and the dominance of search, affiliate marketing and cost per click or action strategies in the digital world are elegant. It’s all about last click attribution and ascribing the highest value to the event with the closest proximity to the transaction. It’s also about dangerously undervaluing everything that makes brands brands – a short code for relevance, trust, performance and value (a notion that is not just about price).
In a recession, market share tends to be priority one. The fastest way to make share gains is by price promotion, the best way to communicate price is at the point of sale; and so it goes.
It’s expensive to move long term perception of brands, it’s inexpensive to track that movement via awareness and share of conversation metrics. Doing the latter might be time and money well spent today as fading brand measures tend to lead to price being the only lever not just one of the levers that influence sales and long term brand health.