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Retail Trends: What retailers need to know about becoming media owners

Charlotte Malbasa, Client Development Manager, at Threefold comments on the latest news and trends within the world of retail.

Charlotte Malbasa Written by Charlotte Malbasa on 23 Sep, 2019

Retailers and brands have been developing point-of-sale marketing campaigns for decades. And why wouldn’t they? A shopper is right there, in a mindset to buy and walk out of the door with a shiny new purchase. There’s surely no better place to reach a potential customer?!

But for decades, shopper marketing has been deemed ‘a bit fiddly, complicated and annoying’ with retailers and brands having different objectives with their campaign messaging. Instead, brand teams would rather do the ‘cool and exciting’ above-the-line campaigns where you can reach a trillion people with an advert that says, ‘ADVERT’. Shout out to BrewDog!

Now, I’m not saying that the super-fun, big budget brand ads aren’t important… Or cool and exciting, for that matter – they absolutely are; but times have changed, and shopper marketing is the cool, ‘new’ thing that retailers and brands want to understand more about. Stores, be them online or brick-and-mortar are now just one touchpoint in the wider media channel mix, presenting an opportunity to drive sales and awareness with the added benefit of providing a shopper with a much stronger shopping experience.

Largely, as with many a conversation starter, this can be attributed to Amazon.

Last year, Amazon’s advertising business was reported to be valued at $10.1bn.

Let’s take that in for a second… $10.1bn. Yes, it’s Amazon – of course it’s that high, they are gargantuan; but their advertising revenue is due to reach £38bn in 2023. $38bn!

Understanding that what is essentially Amazon’s shopper media arm is bringin’ home the big bucks, has made retailers who aren’t doing something similar with their own shopper media stop and think. And, rightfully so. How much could they be missing out on?!

Probably quite a bit if they generate high levels of branded revenue every year.

A retailer’s owned media estate is an opportunity to grow sales and drive incremental revenue which can, in turn be used to invest in more marketing activity, while giving suppliers the opportunity to better understand shopper insights from their stockist.

But the real winners from a retailer as a media owner are shoppers. Shoppers are subsequently able to receive a much more personalised offering, thus making their shopper journey more streamlined and more convenient than ever before.

And that’s exactly what shoppers expect to see. Adobe’s recent ‘Across the Generations’ study found that a fifth of respondents would eliminate unwanted brands that don’t deliver the experience they want. There is a huge risk that if retailers aren’t keeping up with the change in trends, they will suddenly be left behind.

So, what do retailers need to know to become media owners?

Well, my advice would not be to just try to 'sell media' to your suppliers but to develop something more creative and collaborative with them. Yes, Amazon have generated gazillions in advertising revenue selling off space on their website, and this could be perfectly fine in the short term, but it’s often unsustainable in the long term as brands don’t receive a positive ROI and revenue can decline over time. In turn, Amazon in the U.S. are now leveraging the power they have as a retailer over their suppliers, by advertising their private label products at the checkout. For example, a shopper may be on the verge of purchasing some Duracell batteries, only to be served an ad for Amazon batteries atop the ‘buy now’ CTA.


Instead, should a retailer be more collaborative in its approach with suppliers, it can plan shopper campaigns around joint objectives which are then more likely to deliver. By aligning with a brand’s wider activity, a retailer can reap the benefits while giving shoppers a more holistic view, thus saving shopper confusion. Hooray for that!

Venturing down the collaborative route is harder than it sounds. Some retailers have tried to do this in-house but often fall in to the trap that their objectives override those of the supplier and it no longer becomes a partnership. With this in mind, sometimes it’s better to seek independent agency support to work in the interests of both parties. If a retailer and brand can work together, they can offer something much more and much bigger at the right time to shoppers.