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New Year Brings Refocused Shopper Strategies

28 Feb 2023

As part of their ongoing mission to help clients stay ahead of the competition in a fast-paced, constantly evolving marketplace, The Mars Agency’s Customer Development teams closely monitor the strategic activity taking place across all key retailers and channels.

Each month, the teams compile Marketplace Assessment reports on the retailers (Walmart, Target, Kroger, Amazon) and channels (Regional Grocery, Small Format, Club, Emerging) that are most important to our clients’ business success. The following report outlines 6 noteworthy events across the retail landscape from the team’s most recent round of assessments in January.

Buy with Prime Rolls Out Nationwide

The Story: After launching in April last year by invitation only, Amazon’s “Buy with Prime” has expanded to all U.S. merchants. This program lets millions of U.S.-based Prime members shop directly from merchants’ online stores with the same level of trust they expect from Amazon. Within the Buy with Prime program, Amazon is also enabling merchants to display customer reviews from on their own ecommerce page for no additional charge.

Relevance: A win-win for consumers and merchants, this new program has increased shopper conversion on participating websites by 25% on average, according to internal Amazon data. Meanwhile, Prime members are able to shop merchant websites using their saved Amazon checkout details and utilizing their standard benefits like free delivery and returns.

Opportunity: An easier checkout process and faster shipping is sure to entice new shoppers. Plus, access to more customer reviews can help brands with future content iterations, overall product development and go-to-market strategies. Adding Buy with Prime to a brand’s website store is easy, but it will also require development of a DTC strategy, and ongoing activation that might require help from agency partners. (Check out our Digital Commerce Roadmap for best practices in analyzing product reviews and ratings through 5 leading retailers, including Amazon.)


Amazon Fresh Unveils New Delivery Fees

The Story: Starting Feb. 28, Amazon Fresh will implement a new tiered structure for delivery service. To receive deliveries within 2-hour windows, Prime members will pay a service fee of $3.95 for $100-$150 orders, $6.95 for $50-$100, and $9.95 for less than $50. Orders will need to be above $150 before free delivery kicks in.

Relevance: Responding to inflation-driven price increases for groceries and the high operational costs of delivery, Amazon has found itself searching for new revenue streams, with this new service fee structure being one. But the increased costs might have consumers looking to other, cheaper 3rd-party delivery services such as Instacart.

Opportunity: As consumers continue to be hit with price hikes, from the rising cost of groceries to new service fees like these, platform loyalty will not be a priority. Brands will need to employ a holistic approach to ecommerce in order to gain bigger wins across platforms, helping consumers meet their changing needs through product promotions that offer delivery discounts or bulk purchase offers that will help them hit order thresholds.


Kroger Educates Customers on Ecommerce Capabilities

The Story: Kroger has recently partnered with several well-known social influencers to help educate shoppers about the retailer’s full ecommerce suite of digital tools and pickup & delivery services.

Relevance: Kroger needs to attract more online shoppers as it continues building out an extensive ecommerce infrastructure. Targeting potential shoppers during their daily social media sessions is an authentic way to reach and teach them about and the Kroger app to achieve that business need for higher conversion.

Utilizing influencer marketing lets Kroger tap into a visual storytelling approach that provides viewers with guidance on how to take advantage of Kroger’s digital tools.

Opportunity: Brands should continue approaching their Kroger plans from a true omnichannel perspective, but find ways to help the trailer accelerate ecommerce penetration.


CVS Emphasizes Mental Health, Self-Care

The Story: As public conversations around mental health continue to become more widespread, brands and retailers are jumping in, CVS is homing in on self-care with messaging and tips to help shoppers reduce stress, recharge and schedule virtual therapy sessions if they need more guidance.

Relevance: While self-care is a prevalent message everywhere these days, CVS is carving out a niche with both messaging and proactive solutions like virtual therapy sessions. These efforts complement the retailer’s overall vision to become a leading health solutions company. Last May, the retail drugstore giant announced its virtual care offering, giving consumers access to primary care, on-demand care, chronic condition management and mental health services. Most recently, they acquired Oak Street Health, a senior-focused, value-based primary care company. These moves demonstrate CVS’ push to provide omnichannel solutions to consumers across many demographics.

Opportunity: With CVS’ expanding customer base, brands can maintain relevance and gain marketing support within the ecosystem by adapting messaging to incorporate applicable, authentic ways to help deliver overall wellness to shoppers’ daily routines.


C-Stores Go Mobile with Foodservice

The Story: Convenience stores continue to prioritize the foodservice category as a way to drive additional traffic to their stores. However, they are faced with the challenge of getting shoppers to try menu items, as the channel is often not a consideration for consumers thinking about quick meal solutions.

Relevance: Convenience stores are finding unique ways to gain shopper attention and compete with traditional QSRs. From activating sports partnerships to (literally) rolling out food trucks, these retailers are working to communicate their expanding menu options.

Opportunity: CPGs can lean into these retailer investments for additional branding opportunities. Bundled items with CPG products and hot menu choices can drive consumers to shop across multiple categories.


Walmart Goes Big on Business

The Story: Walmart understands that it’s a go-to source for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and nonprofits that need supplies for their day-to-day operations. However, with inflation, supply chain issues, and the shift to a hybrid workforce, these business customers are under more pressure than ever. To better serve these shoppers while earning their loyalty, Walmart launched “Walmart Business” in January.

Relevance: The new Walmart Business ecommerce site offers a curated assortment of more than 100,000 items, with categorization and navigation tailored to busy organizational shoppers. Additionally, businesses can buy a membership for $98/year that delivers more benefits such as free shipping, rewards on orders over $250, and savings of 5% on subscription-based purchases. By saving busy small-business owners time and money while helping them avoid extra hassle, Walmart is showcasing its commitment to supporting local communities.

Opportunity: Walmart is continually finding new avenues to reach different shopping sectors. The company spent months working with SMB owners and nonprofits to understand their key areas of need for running a thriving business. Brands should keep watching Walmart’s activity with this new ecommerce platform to find opportunities for products that might have bulk purchase appeal for business.

The Mars Agency’s Customer Development practice is an unrivaled team of in-market commerce experts who simplify the complexity of retail. Located in Bentonville, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Tampa and the “backyards” of other key retailers, they provide deep knowledge of the retailer, expertise in key business areas (like strategy, media and creative), and door-opening personal relationships with key executives to deliver an unmatched level of business success for clients across accounts, channels and shopper engagement platforms. For more information, contact Group SVP Kandi Arrington at [email protected].

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