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Connected stores to continuous commerce: 5 ways to get ahead with retail media in 2024

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By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

January 22, 2024 | 9 min read

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We speak to leaders from Tesco Media & Insight Platform, powered by dunnhumby, to explore five retail media trends for 2024 and how brands & agencies can turn these insights into actions.

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Shape What Britain Buys takes a look ahead to what’s in store for retail media in 2024

With an estimated 25% growth in 2023, retail media spend in the UK is set to reach £6.5bn by 2027. It’s no surprise given that insight from more than 20 million households in the UK, shows shoppers are looking for value and, as a result, many consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brands are looking to opportunities with retail media to communicate the added value they bring.

Inflation rates and rising food costs have changed the way British consumers shop; and given that many are now seeking out cheaper ingredients and trading down to own-brand items, it makes the retail space an even more challenging environment for brands to ensure they stand out on the shelf.

Looking ahead to what’s in store for retail media in 2024, five key trends are set to reach a tipping point this year, according to ‘Shape What Britain Buys 2024’ from Tesco Media and Insight Platform, powered by dunnhumby. This calls for new approaches and action from brands and their media agencies to be able to win shoppers’ minds and wallets in 2024.

The connected store: an ‘unmissable’ opportunity for a customer-first media plan

While shopping budgets are under pressure, brands can’t rely on price alone. With so much competition on product promotions, the report predicts that brands will increasingly use a mix of store media to tell a cohesive story and build deeper connections with customers by delivering on the promise of the connected store.

That means connecting with customers where their mindset is aligned to purchase, through a network of touchpoints that bring the shopping experience to life through sight, sound, and taste. This comprehensive range of media opportunities to speak to customers can deliver across a range of objectives, making it “unmissable for any truly connected, customer first media plan,” says Connor Chappell, media strategy and partnerships manager, Tesco Media & Insight Platform.

Action #1: Treat the connected store as a creative canvas – use a mix of touchpoints to land a story and reinforce product or brand benefits beyond price.

Continuous commerce: shifting focus from transactions to seamless interactions

‘Big shops’ still happen – but so do the midweek top-ups, on-the-go drop-ins, and deliveries direct to door. It’s a world of continuous commerce, with baskets constantly being built and shoppers consciously and subconsciously deciding what to add next. As this shifting behavior continues to evolve, retail media will power continual conversations for brands, by allowing them to be ever-present to influence in-market and high propensity shoppers across the year.

Tesco Whoosh

Continuous commerce isn’t just about transactions, it’s about seamless interactions across a customer’s journey whether in-store or online, as Ciara Schmidt, media strategy and partnerships manager, explains: “Brands are exploring more sophisticated targeting capabilities based on historical and predictive purchase behaviours across social, connected TV and the open web, stimulating continuous commerce and allowing brands to reach customers in a suitable context and need state.”

Action #2: Create a continuous conversation with shoppers – engage beyond promotional and seasonal periods by using data science to add value to the customer journey.

Blended shopping: the digital shelf will wield influence over in-store decisions

The online-offline boundaries are getting thinner and this seamless shift between in-store and online channel means that it’s not about where the purchase ends, but where inspiration begins. Moving forward in 2024, the digital shelf will have more influence over in-store decisions, which means that brands will re-evaluate its role to enhance activations by building frequency.

Blended Shopping

Re-appraising the role of online along the path to purchase is something every marketeer should be considering, explains head of planning Emma Foley: “Whether customers are researching for price comparison, checking availability or looking for inspiration, an always-on, online presence is crucial to the success of a blended shopping marketing strategy.” This, she says, not only creates strong mental availability for a brand, but reduces the heavy lifting required to prompt consideration at the moment of truth, in-store or online.

Action #3: Treat the digital shelf as an extension of the physical shelf – to create a seamless connection between retail media initiatives to keep products front-of-mind with blended shoppers.

Results beyond ROAS: standardizing measurement to unlock full funnel potential

Full funnel media needs full-funnel measurement. In 2024, brands will take a fresh look at measurement to show proof of performance that goes beyond return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) to support brand-focused objectives. This means the focus will turn from the current fixation with retail media’s impact on sales – which downplays its true potential – to holistic reporting that covers the whole funnel, including metrics like customer lifetime value alongside performance indicators.

“Conversion is an essential metric but suggesting that the end purchase is the only thing that matters is to downplay the vital work that goes on across the rest of the marketing funnel,” says strategy director Simon Lonsdale. “We all know that there’s much more to convincing someone to buy something than just giving them the final nudge.”

Action #4: ROAS in isolation isn’t a true indicator of success. Focus on a wider set of metrics – like customer lifetime value and salience – to help tell a cohesive story around brand and business outcomes.

Retail media teams: cohesion across key business units

To harness the full potential of retail media opportunities, this will demand new approaches from brand marketing teams and media agencies. To maximize the potential, the prediction is that many will start to explore different ways of working and organizational structures – with dedicated retail media teams that bring together shopper, trade, brand, agency and performance expertise together, to allow truly integrated strategies to be created.

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“In 2024, clients will need to continue to evolve their structure and ways of working to maximize retail media’s opportunity, ensuring more cohesion across media channels and greater collaboration between key business units,” says head of sales Lee Roberts. “Over the last year, our most successful client partnerships have accelerated through ensuring the right business units are around the table to shape and deliver a singular retail media strategy.

Action #5: Set up for success – put the right people together and bring multiple disciplines together in dedicated teams, which will help put the customer at the heart of media plans.

Visit here for more insights from Tesco Media & Insight Platform’s ‘Shape What Britain Buys 2024’ report and join Ed Sellier, client strategy manager, Tesco Media & Insight Platform on the future of media panel at The Drum Predictions 2024 event on January 31.

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Tesco Media and Insight Platform is a partnership between Tesco, the UK’s largest grocery retailer, and dunnhumby, a global leader in Customer Data Science.

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