popaiMediaBUZZ joined the POPAI Asia Summit at Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore earlier this month and was impressed by the great line-up of speakers and insightful presentations. POPAI, which stands for ‘Point of Purchase Advertising International’, is the only non-profit global trade association that is dedicated to promote, protect, and advance the broader interests of ‘Marketing at Retail’ through research, education, trade forums, and workshops.

“Addressing and discussing the challenges that lie ahead of the retail industry is vital to gaining insight as to how we should navigate an ever-evolving consumer behavior landscape amidst technological advancements”, said Massimo Volpe, Vice President of Global Memberships at POPAI.

Through a series of presentations, workshops and panel discussions, the two-day event presented key trends, new insights, and success stories from global leaders in retailing and shopper marketing, including: Richard Nicoll, Chief Shopper Marketing Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi Greater China, Adriano di Dia, Head of Innovation Acceleration Team at Nestle Greater China Region; Bob Neville, Global Retail Creative Director & Head of Retail at New Balance; James Damian, Board Leader of Buffalo Wild Wings; Michelle Adams, Founder & President of Marketing Brainology; Christopher Brace, Founder & CEO of Shopper Intelligence; Gianni Cossar, Global Director at GfK; Brian Dyches, Director of Experience Design + Strategy & Partner at Openeye Labs; Jake Shepard, Regional Director of Retail at GfK, and Leo van de Polder, Global Education Manager at POPAI & General Manager at POPAI Benelux.

During the event, POPAI emphasized continuously the importance of researching shopper behavior and the influence of in-store marketing programs, to understand not only how a shopper navigates the in-store experience but the whole path-to-purchase experience, or at least where purchase decisions are made in the first place. Not to mention that the summit has been a great opportunity to meet and open- and like-minded professionals, seeking to share their thoughts and knowledge as well as broadening their knowledge and expertise.

One of the important themes that emerged at the conference was the significance for a brand to create a story and emotional connection. All too often, brands are too caught up in the grind of the price-attribute matrix to forget that powerful storytelling is what draws the customers, whether it is a consumer reading an editorial piece on the brand, a shopper faced with a buying decision on the shop floor, or the shopper marketing team getting a buy-in from the retailer to provide better visibility, or visual merchandising for the brand on the shop floor. Storytelling and a unique experience are what make brands stand out from the crowd.

Another key point was that design thinking has achieved more traction and visibility in recent years, hence, in the retail scene, creating store design using a bottom-up rather than top-down approach is one of the key ways that will help a brand make a difference. Stores are often created in silos in the boardrooms, but brands can benefit so much from getting feedback from floor staff, who face customers on a daily basis and have great insights.

Consumers today are also likely to interact with a brand through various means, be it at a physical shop, online store, or mobile shopping platform. With the rise of such omnichannel shopping behavior, marketers these days are expected to offer a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. This also means consistent and integrated communications and brand messaging throughout various consumer touchpoints. Even with online and mobile shopping, and the potentially greater selection online, physical brick-and-mortar stores are not going away any time soon. They will still be very relevant to the shopping experience, since customers - in the spirit of webrooming and having checked out selections online - still like to walk into stores to experience the feel of the fabric in a pair of jeans or smell the fresh fruits or flowers in the supermarkets. Of course, the reverse can be true, too: Shoppers might try on a pair of designer shoes on the shop floor, but end up buying it on mobile device because of a discount. In any case, the brands that will succeed are the ones that are most connected with their customers. 

“Reaching out to the retail and shopper marketing segments on a truly international scale has always been of utmost importance to us at POPAI Asia, as we look not only to improve our level of service to POPAI’s existing members, who are the heart and soul of the industry, but also to be a pillar of support to all who are similarly involved here in Asia,” said Tom Harris, Development Director of POPAI Asia. “We are dedicated to promoting, protecting and advancing the broader interests of marketing at retail through research, education, trade forums and networking, and we hope that the POPAI Asia Summit has been a fine example of one of the many ways in which we serve our members and fellow professionals.”

Retail success often depends on how customers interact with vendors’ in-store, online and across the various business processes, whether it is via the web, a mobile device, or a combination of the two. POPAI provided tons of insights and best practice to arm today’s retailers and brands with all they have to know to succeed in ‘shopping marketing”.

By Daniela La Marca