Saturday, November 20, 2010

P&G Pushes 'Store Back'

The company's current mindset forces brand teams, agencies to start with the store

If it doesn't work in the store, it doesn't work. Sounds simple enough, but this idea is at the core of The Procter & Gamble Co.'s latest rallying cry known as Store Back, introduced by Marc Pritchard when he took the helm as global marketing officer in mid-2008 (his role has since expanded to global brand-building officer). 

Described by the consumer goods giant as a "mindset" (although others would argue it's much more than that), Store Back reaffirms and strengthens P&G's famous First Moment of Truth (FMOT) mentality, putting an even greater emphasis on shopper marketing and winning at the shelf.

In essence, "[Store Back] reorients our thinking as we're developing big ideas for our brands," explains global design officer Phil Duncan. "We're asking our brand teams to first really start with the store in mind as they evaluate their big ideas, because what we have found is we actually develop better big ideas if we think about the store first and work our way back."

This is a reversal of the way CPGs and their agencies have traditionally approached marketing campaigns, which meant starting with TV or print applications and then adapting them to fit the store. "In the past, [the store] would have been our third or fourth consideration," Duncan says.

However, P&G's agency partners clarify that just because campaigns are constructed with the store in mind doesn't mean the in-store execution is necessarily tackled first. "It's not about starting with the store; you still start with the idea," says Andy Murray, global CEO at Saatchi & Saatchi X, Springdale, Ark. "But what you do is make sure that idea can really work in the store environment and you can put legs on it from a shopper perspective as well as you can some of the other important touchpoints."

Schooling Agencies
In addition to ingraining the Store Back mentality internally, Procter & Gamble also has to make sure all of its agency partners are on board and understand how it affects their working relationship. "It probably is a relatively significant shift for those that were more oriented toward delivering television ideas or print ideas," says Duncan. "For others, I think it's a natural component of how they've always worked."

One significant change is how agencies are expected to present new campaign ideas. "As our agency partners are developing our big ideas, they are [expected to present] it first and foremost through the lens of the store," Duncan says. "If the communication idea does not or is difficult to translate in-store, we're asking our agency partners to go back in and enhance the idea because if it doesn't work in-store, we know it's not going to work."

As shopper marketing agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi X and New York-based G2 (both P&G partners) may have an easier time adapting to Store Back. But they agree the mindset brings more clarity and focus to their work. "When you start putting Store Back filters on the ideas, you really test an idea to see if you can get it down to its simplest form," says Saatchi's Murray.

Store Back has also allowed Saatchi X to start working on campaigns earlier in the planning process. "We're getting involved in many more upstream conversations, which is a good thing," Murray says. "[We're able] to see if it will really work from a store standpoint before we get too far down the road."

Because P&G works with a number of agencies, this mindset requires them to collaborate even more to ensure everyone is on the same page. "It entails a change in process and it entails a change in the way that the agencies work together. There needs to be more collaboration and there needs to be more focus on a medium (the store) that most agencies have little experience in," says Ann Mooney, who worked at P&G for 18 years before launching her own company, Rising Moon Consulting, based in Cincinnati.

Mooney says in her experience, there are a stable of agency partners -- as many as seven to nine -- that need to collaborate with the brand teams. "A packaging agency, an in-store agency, TV/print, online, direct marketing, etc.; it's a lot of agencies that need to be singing off the same sheet of music."

Those familiar with Store Back also believe it is beneficial for P&G's retail customers. "The emphasis on Store Back certainly should help retailers because what it's really doing is taking on board and attaching importance to their customers -- the shopper," says Jonathan Dodd, chief strategy officer at G2.

Murray says many campaigns executed under this framework have already proven to be cleaner, more compelling and clearer to the shopper. "What Store Back is doing is getting us better assets to work with at store level that talk to shoppers in ways that she understands," he says. "Without it, what you really get into is trying to force-fit a 30-second [TV] idea into a three-second space, and that really doesn't work."

Mooney agrees. "In the store environment, one of your objectives is to get them to buy now. And your objective with the TV spot is to get in their consideration set." In both mediums, you want to provide a head nod to the creative idea, she says, but in-store the idea should be about the product's core benefits.

Store Back in Action
Perhaps the best way to understand Store Back is to look at campaigns that were executed with it in mind. One often-cited example is Pampers' partnership with Unicef, in which proceeds helped provide tetanus vaccines for mothers and their newborns in third-world countries.

"If you put that in a big-picture framework, you can touch millions and millions of people by buying Pampers. But then when you start trying to tell that story at the store level, where she only has a few seconds and she's trying to decide, you have to simplify it," says Murray. The simplified message of "1 pack = 1 vaccine" was featured on Pampers packaging and displays, and was also used online and in other marketing efforts. In the end, the campaign achieved its goal of providing funding for 31 million vaccines.

To show how Store Back thinking applies to another product category, Duncan cites Gain's "Love at first sniff" campaign. Drawing on the insight that most shoppers are not comfortable opening a bottle of laundry detergent to smell it in-store, Procter & Gamble created P-O-P materials that encouraged shoppers to "crack the cap to fall in love." From there, "a whole cadre of supporting materials developed," Duncan says, including TV commercials, print ads, online executions and public relations efforts.

"It really was thinking about the [Gain] campaign in a macro sense, but thinking Store Back for the first executions around those 'crack the cap' insights that really drove consumer appeal for the brand," he says.

Although it launched before Store Back was officially announced, the CoverGirl LashBlast campaign featuring Drew Barrymore was conceived with the same core principles in mind. G2 was the digital and First Moment of Truth agency for this campaign, which had a large presence in-store.

"The execution at the retail level involved utilizing a big orange [mascara] tube, which was very visible in-store, very dramatic, and helped to attract the shopper's attention," says Dodd. "We featured in-store Drew Barrymore, which connected to the advertising, so there was a connection to the shopper and to the store from what they would have seen on TV."

The in-store pieces were tailored to fit the needs of CoverGirl's key retail customers based on an understanding of their shopper profiles and P-O-P guidelines. These marginally different executions remained consistent with the campaign's big idea of bold, beautiful lashes, resulting in a favorable share performance for the brand, Dodd says.

Beyond P&G
While the term "Store Back" belongs to Procter & Gamble, those interviewed agree the thinking behind it can apply to virtually any product category that is sold at retail. "Procter's done a great job of distilling it and aligning their organization [around Store Back], and others are doing it to similar or maybe slightly lesser degrees at the moment," Dodd says of G2's other clients.

Meanwhile, Mooney is consulting brand marketers and agencies on what she calls StoreFirst, defined as "creating marketing ideas first with the store in mind for better in-store impact and improved integrated 360-degree marketing." She agrees that this idea, which must go beyond a mindset to entail changes in process and ultimately become an operational discipline, applies to virtually any product "where in-store is really important in making their purchase decision."

Another important consideration is assessing and qualifying the in-store idea early in the process. "Don't just sit in the conference room and say, 'Yeah, I think that's pretty good.' Qualify it and test it with shoppers," Mooney says.
She stresses, though, that StoreFirst is not a formula. "It's not something that will look the same way at every company because it depends on the company's processes, their organization structure, etc. It's not one size fits all."

"It's especially important for categories that are confusing, that have a lot of SKUs, that have sort of high launch rates, where there's a lack of differentiation and there's a high risk of shopper decision failure," she adds.

Mooney also tells clients to take into account their key retailers' planning processes and calendars when they're thinking about launching new products, which Dodd agrees is one of the benefits of this mentality. "You're taking the idea more directly into the store, which arguably is going to be more powerfully communicated and more effective," he says. "You also think about the constraints of the store at the appropriate time in the process, so you can use them advantageously rather than be compromised by some of those constraints."

Although a Store Back or StoreFirst framework may look different depending on the company, Mooney asserts that this type of thinking "is just the next evolution for companies to say, 'Not only should you have expertise and know-how and processes relative to shopper marketing, but additionally you should think about the store more seminally -- more first -- and how your product comes to life in-store,' because the store really is the torture test. If it doesn't work in-store, it doesn't work."

Published: March 2010

Source: In-Store Marketing Institute/Shopper Marketing