What if you could have an adviser with you every time you shop that tells you what product is good and what product is a dud? You do. It’s on your smartphone.

Let me introduce you to Trevor and Jane, fictional expecting parents. They’re deciding which diaper pail to choose. Jane uses her iPhone while in the store to scan UPC codes of each diaper pail to compare online prices, in-store prices and, more importantly, owner reviews. She doesn’t want a diaper pail that, well, stinks.

Now imagine you’re a major family care brand advertiser with a product relevant to expecting parents, and you serve Jane your ad in her shopping app. The ad isn’t intrusive, it’s helpful – studies show that when people shop, they’re open to ads for ideas and products that help them. She clicks it and comes to your “new parent checklist” of all the products she needs to bring baby home. You’re having a valuable conversation with Jane and Trevor that arms them with much-needed advice.

And you just created a brand loyalist.

Shopping apps benefit both consumers and brands

There’s an army of smartphone owners out there that are using their phones to help them shop – surprisingly, even for low-consideration CPG products. Over 40% of shoppers use their phones in stores to find deals. More interesting to CPG brands: 29% of men and 41% of women use their phones in-store to research consumer product details.

Shopping apps are incredibly valuable to consumers because they keep them from buying bad products at bad prices. And they’re incredibly valuable to brand advertisers because they get brands in front of a captive audience while they’re open to stuff they need.

The advertiser knows exactly what they need, too – simply by how the consumer uses the app. Their location, the retailer they’re in, the products they’re currently holding in their hand, as well as their scanning/shopping history reveal exactly what they’re already in the mood to buy.

When done right, mobile shopper marketing benefits both parties: The consumer and the brand. When brands provide relevant and helpful information to shoppers, they respond. Brand advertisers get to spend a little more time with their prospects in a more meaningful way than an interruptive pop-up for a product they don’t want.

Mobile allows for a richer conversation than traditional shopper marketing

What CPG company wouldn’t want to have a genuine conversation with these shoppers while they’re in a store considering their products (as well as their competitors’)? Most would probably say they’re already doing that with in-store shopper marketing executions – end-caps loaded with a particular product, life-sized cardboard cutouts of whatever soda that summer blockbuster action hero loves, machines that dispense in-aisle detergent coupons as shoppers pass by.

But while those traditional executions can be effective, they miss a big opportunity – they only communicate one way. Does the brand get to do anything beyond showcasing a line of products? Do they help the brand communicate any information beyond price? And is there any guarantee the shopper is interested at all?

Shopping apps provide a two-way mechanism. The brand knows what the shopper is interested in based on their scans, as we discussed. The brand can then invite them to a deeper conversation, for example, searching for the right shampoo by hair type and color – valuable information for the brand that lets it deliver a valuable result to the consumer.

Real-time mobile is stickier than traditional coupons

I’m impressed when I get a register coupon for a product I didn’t buy yet, but probably would like based on my shopping history. But I’ve already left the store! The advertiser is asking a shopper to hold on to a piece of paper in the digital age. If you’re anything like me, you have the best intentions to use that coupon, but it wastes away in some void in my home. One day I’ll find a mountain of expired coupons for stuff I always wanted to try.

Mobile coupons have a 10% redemption rate versus traditional coupons’ 1%.

Rather than placing a generic ad in a circular, wouldn’t a detergent brand prefer to talk to a mom as she stands in front of an energy-saving washing machine? As she reads reviews for the machine on her smartphone, wouldn’t the brand love to tell her about how its new cold-water formula can help that very machine get her clothes cleaner? Oh, and here’s a discount for it – she can pick it up just a few aisles away.

Adopting new shopper technologies will allow brands to have more meaningful, stickier conversations. In a digital world, we need to start thinking differently about what effective shopper marketing means.

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