By Misha Pabari | Marketing Assistant

Peak online trading periods bring additional challenges to consumer brands trying to optimise digital promotions across their retail sales channels.

Shoppers have been trained to buy many categories ‘on promotion’. The first half of 2018 saw over four billion digital promotional offers distributed by brands, which is a 25% year-over-year increase. Many brands are struggling to deal with the challenges of a downward promotional spiral that eats away at margin and profitability.

So how can you address this issue? Benchmarking your existing promotions, and optimising them, is a good place to start. Here are our four tips on how brands should optimise digital promotions to maximise their return on investment and ensure they stand out during peak promotion periods.

Ensure you have a good understanding of your audience

Knowing what your shopper wants, what motivates them and what the opportunity is in your category is key. Your promotional strategy can then become more focused, for instance on driving shopper penetration, weight or frequency of purchase.

Promotional effectiveness should be reviewed for every event, taking all costs and support into account; primarily to ensure that any learning is built into future activity. However, many brands we speak to do not evaluate the performance of promotions, or the overlaid marketing campaigns.

If you don’t have the data required to complete an evaluation, or the quality of the data isn’t good enough, then it is worth having a conversation with your retail partners.

Retailers are becoming increasingly collaborative, sharing more data that will allow you to understand your shopper. For example, we are aware of certain supermarkets who now share on-site search data with their top suppliers.

Tools to run quick consumer polls and other techniques - such as online mystery shopping - can provide additional datapoints if necessary.

Track what your competitors and retail partners are doing - don’t rely on scraping tools to give you the full picture

Scraping tools will give you a view of pricing, promotion mechanics and some may claim to give you a view of the promotional display, but none that we have seen enable you to get a full picture of what is actually happening.

Unfortunately, good old-fashioned detective work by people capable of understanding the context of a promotion and marketing activity, on and off the retailer’s site, (e.g. banners, promotional display slots, email content and social media) is the most effective way of deriving directional insight from the data you can gather.

Plan to track your products

So many organisations that we have worked with encounter gaps in their knowledge when they try to look back on what happened during a campaign. Having a plan in place to capture the full picture of what the shopper sees, as it happens, is a great way to future-proof your strategy.

Practicology recently worked with Moët Hennessy to track and evaluate promotional activity in two markets - China and the USA - providing a view of activations across key retail partners. The project was designed to gather actionable insight into what makes for a best practice activation.

Moët Hennessy E-Retail Business Development Manager, Suzanne Beaud, explains why the business invested in the tracking programme:

“Practicology provided useful insights to support us in delivering a 360-activation set across key channels, helping us to maintain our competitive advantage in key trading periods. It allowed us to quickly understand our opportunities for immediate action and gave us a clear view on competitor activity through trading peaks.”

Build the use of insight into the promotional planning and review process

Create tools for planning and reviewing promotions that require team members to have considered the results of previous campaigns. This should prompt your team to use data to inform decisions on promotions, and will help to embed the idea of continuous optimisation into your organisation.

Large brands have implemented complex systems to do this, but it is possible to create a simpler tool - even within a spreadsheet - to ensure that decisions are backed by insight.

If you would like to find out more about how we help our consumer brand clients to improve their promotional effectiveness contact us at hello@practicology.com.

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