by Sarah Mahoney
In a new analysis of the 17 digital tools most used in shopper marketing, Forrester finds that many of the most-buzzed about — including social networking, daily deal sites and QR codes — are struggling in earn their share of spending.
And while others show much greater potential, including mobile, adoption rates are low.
“Mobile is the next big thing, but it is still next and not quite now,” writes Forrester analyst Tracy Stokes in the report. “The number of articles about how mobile is on the rise for shopper marketing seems to increase weekly. But our research shows that while adoption of handsets and mobile activities are on the rise among consumers, shopper marketers are more wary about the opportunities without proven results or metrics with which to measure any results and thus have been slower to adopt mobile technologies.”
Instead, Forrester, which polled 32 respondents across the industry, finds that the traditional digital platforms — like email, brand Web sites, and retailer-targeted content — get most of the shopper marketing bucks and are likely to remain the top priority.
It’s not that marketers are averse to digital tools, with 87% agreeing that digital technology has fundamentally changed the way people shop, 88% agreeing that mobile technology is a game-changer, and 72% agreeing that consumers make more decisions before they get to the store than they used to.
But with many technologies still in their infancy, it’s not clear that they will emerge as serious weapons in shopper marketing, classing the 17 technologies in four different tiers. In the neonate phase, Forrester cites QR and 2D barcodes, interactive in-store solutions, and audio fingerprinting apps as having “a small user base, a sparse vendor landscape, and/or low consumer adoption.”
In the next tier, Forrester says these technologies remain in “survival mode:” E-circulars and online FSIs; in-store TV networks; online daily deals; third-party location apps, such as Foursquare and Facebook Places; third-party shopping apps, and social networking pages. Of these, it projects minimal success for daily deal sites and in-store networks — and while it expects the others to be significantly important in shopper marketing at some point, there are still big hurdles. While 60% of U.S. adults visit a social networking site at least weekly, “only 33% have become a fan of a company or a brand. Furthermore, the tie to marketing effectiveness hasn’t been made yet, so it will be some time before social can prove its marketing chops,” she writes.
In the next tier, Forrester classes affiliate coupon sites, branded apps, mobile display ads, and mobile search as in the “growth” phase. All four have “overcome earlier phase hurdles, such as low investment or adoption, and show an upward trajectory in both areas. Marketers have a wide array of vendors with whom to work to build these channels and platforms, and consumer use has achieved critical mass.”
And, finally, Forrester classes four digital methods as having more or less earned a permanent place in the shopper marketing toolkit: Text messaging, retail-specific content, email, and brand Web sites. While growth in all four “has either slowed, peaked, or essentially stopped, effectiveness and ROI remain high, and investment to improve on the existing experience still occurs. Shopper marketing will continue to benefit from these technologies for the foreseeable future.”