Lessons from Shoptalk 2023: It’s All About Consumer Engagement


    By NCS Marketing

    Shoptalk 2023 may be in the rearview mirror, but the learnings and takeaways are front and center at NCS. The big theme? Buyer centricity is a work in progress. Brands are still finding their way in how to place and keep buyers at the center of their overall marketing strategies. 

    At the show, attendees generally agreed that the key to better engagement was consumer data. We couldn’t agree more. At NCS, we’ve seen brands achieve great success by fueling their engagement strategies with purchase data. 

    There are four consumer engagement themes we heard at Shoptalk this year - and all are too good to stay in Vegas. 

    1. A holistic consumer experience rises above the noise

    Consumers make purchases in stores or on their devices, but that’s only a single step in a much wider journey. Nowadays, they face a barrage of options that come through their media at any given moment. That’s why the overall consumer treatment, not the individual transaction, matters so much. It’s the best way to cut through the clutter. 

    That’s why brands must focus on the end-to-end experience. It sounds easy, but it can be difficult to execute. The marketers getting it right are the ones using consumer data to build holistic experiences that surprise, delight and stand out.

    2. A personalized journey keeps customers engaged

    Understanding consumers and personalizing their journeys will differentiate a brand from its competitors. In truth, the only way to create relevant marketing is to fully understand what matters to brand buyers. And the only way to fully understand consumers is by using the right customer data in the right way. Which brings us to….

    3. The importance of refined data and data science

    The consensus at Shoptalk was that increasing data on hand and improving how it is used is at the heart of optimized communications for consumer engagement. And while first-party data is king, brands need additional data sources to deliver the insights they need to enhance the customer experience. 

    In a recent blog post, NCS Chief Product Enrichment & Operating Officer Jeff Doherty discussed quality data science and how it’s the key to driving actionable insights. These insights are at the core of any marketing or sales strategy. But it’s not as simple as raw data = incremental sales lift. 

    • The right mix of data can be a differentiator. With representative data, brands can better understand consumer behavior to personalize the shopper experience. 
    • An experienced data scientist delivers the right insights. They use modeling to analyze the impact of advertising on consumer behavior, providing marketers with the insights they need to optimize messages and engage consumers.

    4. Retail media networks have a role to play

    Retail media networks (RMNs) continue to hold a lot of potential. Almost 75% of CPG marketers said they planned to invest more of their media budget in RMNs, according to the results of a 2021 survey conducted by Brand Innovators in collaboration with NCS. But as they become more common and more widely used, RMNs will need to prove ROAS - and quickly. 

    A few other RMN Shoptalking points we heard:

    • First-party data is the carrot for any CPG brand interested in increasing sales. Getting this data should be of the highest priority.
    • Retail media is still media. It’s not reinventing the wheel. The key is the brand. What is each brand’s media strategy? How can the RMN help the brand make appropriate advertising decisions?
    • Partnerships are still key, especially with third-party measurement experts who have walked this road before.

    Those are the highlights from the NCS team. We learned a lot and had a great time. Thanks to the Shoptalk 2023 team for organizing such a fantastic networking opportunity, and we can't wait to see you next year!

    Convenience stores (C-Stores) play a major role in the buyer's journey. Check out the results of our C-Store consumer sentiment survey. This guide includes shopping attitudes and behaviors about C-Store shopping.

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