Today’s reality of a consolidated retail marketplace, the rise of the savvy shopper, and the intensifying battle to secure in-store presence and brand cut through, means that partnership is the language for brand owners to achieve commercial success. Historically brand owners and retailers have had differing and sometimes conflicting approaches and agendas. The common ground they have always shared however, is winning the shopper. As such partnering on initiatives that set out to create mutual value by understanding and providing solutions for shoppers is a welcome change to the transactional conversations of old.

Our philosophy when it comes to shopper marketing is grounded in the belief that if you can’t win retailer partnerships, you can’t win shoppers.

So how do you foster close working relationships between brands and retail partners, taking both beyond the sum of their parts to create shopper relevant programs in which ‘1+1 = 3’?

Below are the three principles we’ve developed to aid in a successful partnership approach with retailers:

Principle One: Recognise Shopper Differences

Different retailers have different shoppers, and retailers are powerful brands in their own right. Solutions that work for one retailer won’t necessarily translate to another, therefore to work successfully with retailers, brand owners must understand the retailer’s key shopper as well as their brand and business strategy. Our Retailer Bible tool brings together shopper insights, retail analysis, a retail snapshot and market analysis to uncover what motivates key sub shopper audiences in order to engage and sell them more.

Using the tool, we helped Cadbury work in partnership with Tesco to win Christmas and create a better experience for the shopper. An immediate and tangible value-added gift wrapping service helped Tesco deliver on their shopper’s expectation of personalization, whilst enabling Cadbury to get out of the retailer template and secure additional media front-of-store during the busy festive period.

Principle Two: Be Driven by Finding Alignment.

Understanding retailers and their shoppers is the foundation of any partnership. Finding ways to align behind retailer-led growth pillars takes the relationship to the next level. Retailers want to grow categories over individual brands, therefore coming with insights and initiatives that help the total category win, makes for a more effective partnership in the long run.

This approach helped Cadbury to strengthen their collaboration with Tesco, unlocking even more of the store during Easter. By aligning with Tesco’s brand strategy and supporting their ambition of delivering ‘little helps’, Cadbury were able to bring ‘joy’ to the seasonal shop with a fun and engaging Easter Bunny egg hunt. The result was Tesco’s biggest ever brand activation, and through targeting the retailer’s wants and needs Cadbury were able to again get out of template, this time achieving sightings across entire store.

Principle Three: Tailor to Achieve Maximum Adoption

The best ‘in partnership’ programs that benefit from implementation at scale, are often those that can be brought to life differently by different retailers. Retailers want exclusive activations, and executions need to resonate with specific shoppers driving them to store to spend more and more often. An example of a tailorable platform was one for CountryLife, designed around supporting British values with the potential for alignment with retailers. For example with Waitrose, an added value premium in the form of gardening kits was developed, tapping into the emotional connection to the British countryside as a cause closer to home to Waitrose’s key shopper.

When it comes to working with retailers, success lies in creating value relevant to not only both parties, but also to the shopper. We’ve helped equip our clients with the insights and activations they need to win over shoppers, help the overall category grow, and deliver that ‘1+1=3’, which makes them effective partners that retailers want to work with again and again.