CPGmatters: Occasion-Based Marketing Triggers Coca-Cola’s Solutions

May 23, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

Shopping occasions and trip missions to the grocery store took on greater meaning for Coca-Cola Co. after the beverages giant uncovered research showing that six of ten trips (57 percent) are occasion-based with shoppers looking for solutions.

Speaking at a shopper marketing conference in Chicago hosted by the Path to Purchase Institute, Andrew McMillin, vice president, shopper marketing, large stores, Coca-Cola, said the goal is to "unlock that occasion" along the path to purchase or at the point of purchase (POP). For Coca-Cola, the good thing is that any occasion with people coming together is an opportunity for a beverage.

Jeff Fechalos, director of shopper insights, Coca-Cola, said grocery shopping is all about meal consumption. Understanding how people are consuming food and pairing it with a beverage is key.

"If we can put those two together — trip mission and consumption occasion — that’s very powerful," he said, adding that understanding how shoppers move through the store can help Coke offer products grouped into relevant solutions at key engagement points along the path to purchase.

According to Mr. Fechalos, Coke has three different ways of looking at how people shop in the grocery store: trip mission; where they shop in the store (that varies by mission); and how people move through the store. By putting all these things together, marketers can build a complete picture of how someone is acting in the store — what they are doing and what their needs are.

Coca-Cola further sees shoppers’ trip missions organized against four priorities: saving time, saving money, serving their family or serving some need for themselves. Different kinds of trips include stock up, immediate need, forgotten item, special occasion, and so on.

"We can tailor our strategy based on trip mission," he said. For example, a stock up trip calls for a tie in to center store solutions.

Mr. McMillin said Coca-Cola brings solutions to life in the store with a three-step process:

Integrate: The foundation and starting point for a solution is integrating the mission and the occasion along the path to purchase. This is the hardest part. There is an art and science to it.

Implement: Coca-Cola develops solutions that have synergy with the right marketing partners; for example, a beverage with chips, cookies or crackers.

Inspire: The goal is to bring the solution to life for the shopper. "If we don’t inspire shoppers at the point of purchase or along the path to purchase, we sub-optimize," said Mr. McMillin.

Discussion Questions: What are the best ways for supermarkets to reach customers during occasion-and-trip-based shopping missions? What are some obvious and less obvious ways to reach shoppers during these times?

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8 Comments on "CPGmatters: Occasion-Based Marketing Triggers Coca-Cola’s Solutions"

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Dr. Stephen Needel
6 years 28 days ago

If you were Coca-Cola, you’d want a carb beverage display in almost every aisle, because that’s the only way you’re going to cover all your bases. Coolers at check-outs is a great way to capture quick trip shoppers who are not hitting the main aisle. But capturing the path to purchase (I hate that phrase) for all manner of occasions is unlikely.

Paula Rosenblum
6 years 28 days ago

I guess my only question is “Why wait until the trip is in-flight?” I would think marketers would want to intercept the customer pre-visit, perhaps by advertising a “Tell us your mission” campaign, followed up with an app that offers relevant deals in various parts of the store.

It has struck me for a long time that grocers rely on the impulse buy far more than they should to be most effective. That’s what transparency in “paths to purchase” is all about. Catching the shopper earlier.

Anne Howe
6 years 28 days ago

Coca-Cola does a great job of building a strong brand and having a meaningful place in shopper’s lives. But I do think they could do more to connect the dots between shopping opportunity and desire for the product. Paula noted a very creative app idea!

I think, for example, they could have a big role in the lunch packer’s trip mission, and although it’s a stretch for retailers, it’s not insane to put a icy cold beverage besides juice in a breakfast program. It’s just new and different. Think of how delighted a shopper might be if there was acknowledgement and celebration of those who really do have a Coke for breakfast almost every single morning!

In this day and age, classic retail “barriers” to inventive programming must be pushed aside in order to let creativity and shopper-centric thinking have a shot at growth beyond just another coupon.

Ben Ball
6 years 28 days ago

Paula is on to something with the idea of catching the consumer “pre-flight.” But perhaps retailers (at least some) can go one step further. We touched on this concept yesterday when we discussed drive-thru.

I think we could see retailers who are designed to serve a specific mission or occasion. It happened with convenience stores, though that concept has had several evolutions, to the industry’s credit. Yesterday I suggested a ‘drive-thru fill-in trip store’.

Other missions and occasions might be both large enough and distinct enough to support a solution. We may not return to the days of the butcher and baker and candle-stick maker — but focus is generally never a bad thing.

Ed Dunn
6 years 28 days ago

The best way is for supermarkets to embed their message in the solution-based shopping trip.

I believe Publix is already doing this in their advertising when they show a family celebrating Thanksgiving or inviting family over for dinner how Publix has the items to fulfill that occassion.

It may be as simple as better keyword marketing for search engines or sponsoring blogs with a solution-specific marketing message such as birthday cakes for birthday parties.

Zel Bianco
6 years 28 days ago

Ideally, they should have placement in every area of the store where a meal solution is being considered. This would include ethnic meals, the deli, the frozen pizza aisle, etc. But how do you realistically execute against that? One way is a meal solution aisle or display where a number of meal solutions along with Coke products can be promoted together. It offers meal solution suggestions for the shopper and allows coke and food partners to co-promote. Why just do this for Super Bowl, Memorial Day and July 4th?

Dennis Serbu
Dennis Serbu
6 years 28 days ago

Couple this information along with the fact that half of all shopping trips result in the purchase of 5 items or less. 16% of shopping trips are for a single item. (Dr. Herb Sorensen) There is a giant opportunity to build transaction size by (GASP!) merchandising! Beverages to accompany the meal mission and pretzels and chips to accompany the beverage. All transaction builders. Kind of what we used to do before mandated displays and training our store managers NOT to be merchants.

Mark Heckman
6 years 28 days ago
I was impressed by this research when it was first introduced a few years back. It makes sense to reach the consumer at the point of sale with the message and presentation that best appeals to their mindset on that particular trip. Where retailers have trouble is functionally connecting this concept to merchandising schema that differentiates a presentation of a single product or category in multiple locations of the store. Even if they know that center store shoppers are more frequently stocking up as opposed to perimeter shoppers who are on a meal solutions mission, merchandising the same items in multiple locations in the store, specifically cross-merchandised to represent a specific shopping trip mindset is rare. There may be some that believe they have cracked the code on executing multiple product or category presentations of the same item or category in the same store. But unless you they are referring to stalwarts like meal solution centers and checkout merchandising displays, I have not seen much evidence of either brands or retailers systematically approaching their store… Read more »

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