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What does the 'new normal' look like for field marketing?

14/09/2020

As we all strive to adapt to the ‘new normal’ as best we can, despite an air of uncertainty around what else may change in the weeks, month even years ahead. It remains key to ‘adapt’ in the right ways, as well as taking time to reflect on how far we have already come. 

For Field Marketing industries the last 6 months have seen unprecedented changes, from total ‘lockdown’ to the re-emergence into a retail landscape which is the same, but different. And yet out of the ashes of change we are seeing stronger, more targeted, and dynamic field solutions emerging.  Could it be, that the ‘new normal’ for Field Marketing is even better than before?

Let’s firstly reflect.

On 16 March 2020, the UK went into lockdown. This resulted in the closure of all non-essential retailers. Grocers and convenience outlets became frontline key workers who were now under pressure to feed the nation. Retailers faced unprecedented demand as people panic- shopped, and distribution and supply floundered as they too, struggled to adapt to such frenetically fast paced and ever-increasing demand.

It is estimated that UK shoppers spent an additional £469m on groceries in March alone; with panic stricken shoppers splurging on items such as bath and shower gel (£9.9m), facial tissues (£3.6m), pasta (£3.3m) and toilet rolls sales of a staggering £37.6m!

It was, by all accounts, a buying frenzy that bordered on the irrational.     

Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda, amongst others, were swift to respond to this negative buying phenomenon by taking steps to curtail panic-buying, and the initial onslaught slowly began to reside as new social distancing & PPE measures were introduced and the journey of what we do instinctively now, had begun. 

During the initial phase of the pandemic, EFMP UK partners, Field Sales Solutions were in the lead among those field marketers who opted for their field teams to stay at home, protecting not only their own field staff, but also by refraining from adding to the complexity of the situation that retailers in essential services were facing in trying to meet the challenges of dealing with this level of consumerism, while at the same time trying to ensure the safety of their own staff and customers.        

It was the right thing to do.

After all we were all in this together.      

Cut to today…

With shops and pubs, restaurants and many more out of home channels now reopen, the ‘new normal’ means that we are slowly moving towards a more familiar retail landscape.  This is a landscape which has certain differences, but it is one which is open for business.

This is a retail landscape that needs support, and this is where Field Marketing services re-emerge as a key service provision both to retailers and to brands directly. Both of whom now seek a shared goal, to navigate the new normal and drive sales not just to meet the demands of today, but to guarantee the economic stability of ‘tomorrow’.

With the emergence of this uncertain future, comes a chance to re-evaluate how best to position brands and an opportunity to try new ventures. For some brands this could be in a shift in focus, maybe utlising field marketing spend to drive presence in Convenience - given the unprecedented growth in this channel - and the ‘shop local’ ethos which now sees shoppers frequenting local convenience store more often and with increased basket spend. 

Or could it be that ensuring you get the basics right from Grocery activity is key for certain brands. Providing safe hands in store, being vigilant and compliant, and to help in-store staff to get issues like back room stock, booking systems, and on- shelf stock pull- through actioned. This drives greater sales for brands and retailers alike – as they strive to keep the backbone of retail functioning to enable consumers to get what they need, when they need it.            

Whatever the challenge each brand now faces, it is quite possibly unrealistic to think we can just send out the same field sales team to the same stores as we did before lockdown, because as we know things have changed, and we have to be alert as to how best to adapt.

Today’s Field Marketing solutions are therefore key in answering the needs of brands and supporting the retailers who sell them, by ensuring products are available, visible, compliant, and ultimately ready to sell. Retailers are therefore unsurprisingly welcoming Field Marketeers back into store with a renewed value for the services they provide, the insight they share and the sales they ultimately help drive through the till. But working with an agency who understands ‘the right approach’ for each brand is key to ensuring you unlock the right return for your field marketing investment.

The optimal Field Marketers of ‘today’ are those who use data to drive there field activity, without leveraging technology, insight and expertise brands can quickly find that a blanket approach to field coverage actually has a detrimental effect on their return, and likewise retailers with more stock than they can sell is not the end goal for anyone. Data is now the driver to ensure each brand adapts to todays retail landscape, and in turn ensures brands focus their marketing spend in the outlets and channels which represent the greatest opportunity to maximise sales.

Whether the brand has an already established field team or it’s new to the marketplace, the biggest challenge brand owners are potentially facing is ensuring how to quickly identify the key drivers in their range and what interventions to implement to deliver the best return on investment. A further challenge may also be in speedily developing a targeted approach on where to activate marketing plans in today’s retail climate. The good news is expert Field Marketing agencies can support brands in rising to the challenge. Our EFMP partners, Field Sales Solutions, have a simple philosophy for driving the optimal return:

- Right People

- Right Store

- Right Time

- Right Actions

They have a robust data driven approach which enables them to understand where opportunity and issues are, based on modelling trending and mapping of core store performance data. Further, they will work in partnership to understand the opportunities and issues faced in each of the channels and retailers, for each individual brand.

Let’s look at an example…

For a recent launch of a new product into UK convenience stores, Field Sales Solutions used a targeted data drive approach, in a quick 6 week window their expert field teams managed to achieve over 2000 new distribution points within a specific target demographic area within  London, generating over 650+ new stockists - that’s 650 new places to purchase! And that strike rate was only possible because Field Sales Solutions ensured they understood where to target and how to maximise the opportunity, through data.

Their flexibility, knowledge, systems, people, and specialist partnerships are a powerful combination that deliver outstanding implementation. Field Sales Solutions has a proven track record for building positive, collaborative relationships at store and regional levels through both strategic and tactical coverage. In fact, their approach has seen them claim the title of UK Field Marketing agency of the Year twice in the last three years. 

Conclusion 

Whilst we are still weathering the storm of the global pandemic, there is no time for complacency. Retailers and Brands alike face the day to day reality - and opportunity - in being a key support for the nation through the provision of products which are available for consumers to purchase. In this, Field Marketing has a pivotal role in supporting stores, and the economy at large, by ensuring that products have clear distribution availability and display for sale. Field Marketing offers effective sales solutions which deliver real results.

Retailers and brands have the opportunity to “reset” what value means to consumers and how they are best placed to meet the new needs moving forward. So, why not take advantage of this and use it to ensure your sales teams and processes are aligned, streamlined and focused on where the greatest opportunity is for your brands. The way you structure your sales team is an important factor to success. This is the real benefit of using a sales agency, like Field Sales Solutions, because they can build teams that respond to opportunities and demands at pace, improving ROI with data and expert knowledge. 

If you are a brand owner in need of support please contact Field Sales Solutions via hello@fieldsalessolutions.com today to find out how we can help you navigate, adapt and focus your field marketing activity by using data as a powerful enabler to optimise sales during these uncertain times, driving more sales now and futureproofing your brand sales on going.

Together we will win.

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