The key differences between Field Marketing, Field Sales, Merchandising and Trade Marketing often seem unclear in the retail industry. Each discipline is critical to brand and retail success, and they often overlap, so we've decided to share some of our thoughts and experiences of each over the next few weeks.
Today people shop online, and their needs are easily satisfied at a click of a button. Although we have integrated technology into our lives, we still spend a large part of our days interacting with real people on a face-to-face basis and from a shopping perspective at bricks and mortar stores. As long as this remains true, there will always be an opportunity for field marketers to influence how consumers interact with brands in-store.
What is it?
Field marketing falls under Marketing. It involves working on-site or "in the field" to connect with markets. In a sentence, Field Marketing entails distributing, selling, auditing, sampling, and running promotions on the floor. Because it falls under "marketing" I think it's also necessary to mention the two different approaches to marketing: Inbound vs. outbound. At DotActiv, we strongly advise that you follow an inbound approach to both marketing and sales.
Who's interested in it?
The discipline is very popular in FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods). In the retail context most brands/ suppliers are investing in field marketing as it's one of the critical links between manufacturers and retailers. They are using it to ensure that consumers are having a positive experience with their brands and that their brands are getting promoted in-stores. That said, conducting a mystery shopping exercise is just as valid here.
Now that we've covered some background let's take a look at some of the ways brands are using FM to get ahead of their competitors:
1. Brand questionnaires/ audits:
One of the common misconceptions about marketing is that it's just about promoting products and services. Yes, marketing is about that, but the starting point is gathering information through research and then suggesting strategies based on findings.
Field marketers are helping brands get ahead by answering well thought out questionnaires which collect information about their brand and competing brands.
2. Product Sampling and Demonstrations:
Product sampling is most commonly done at grocery or department stores where the product can be bought. Product sampling, when done well, can be an effective way to lift product sales. Again I'd like to emphasize the importance of an inbound approach to product sampling. - It can be very damaging to a brand when field staff coerce shoppers into sampling a product which is of little interest to them.
3. Fixing obvious problems:
After field marketers finish gathering information they often turn to making sure that the retail displays are attractive. Most retailers will already be making sure that products are faced toward customers and that shelves are well stocked. The field marketer takes it to the next level by fixing other obvious problems like replacing old stock, maximizing forward share and negotiating special displays. The field marketer will also cultivate their relationship with retailers, and will work to promote their success as this, in turn, will help brand success.
4. Putting up in-store promotions:
In-store promotions capture the attention of customers while they are in-store. Because field marketers are already visiting many stores, they are also the ones who set up in-store promotions while they are at it.
5. Taking orders (Independent Stores):
Managers of independent stores usually have a decentralized buying structure which leaves the manager responsible for making sure there's sufficient stock on hand. Field marketers can take product orders from these store managers while in-store which can have a positive impact on sales.
6. Experiential Marketing:
Unlike promotions, which are price and value driven and aimed at quick sales, experiential marketing campaigns and events are about building long-term loyalty by providing unforgettable, fun, feel-good experiences where consumers fall in love with your brand. Experiential marketing focusses on enticing all the senses making the shopping experience a more memorable one.
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