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Mediaweek’s A to Z of 2023: R is for Retail Media

Thought Leadership
13 December 2023

Mike Tyquin: “Connecting the digital and physical experience for customers remains a significant opportunity for brands.”

2023 has been another significant year of growth for retail media as more brands look to unlock access and engagement of highly valuable customer audiences of leading retailers. Significantly retailers are evolving to provide “customer media” anchored in the retail context and rich customer insights.

As our approach and retail media evolves, we work with both clients and agencies who are advanced in their retail media journeys and those who are at the very start of their journeys. Building understanding among and alignment with brand stakeholders on the role retail media can play in brand growth is still crucial at this stage in our growth. We are seeing a growing level of sophistication in the approach to planning and execution by brands while at the same time an incredible appetite to continue to test and learn.

Over the last 12-18 months, the most significant and interesting thematic we have seen is the rising cost of living impact for customers and the responses of brands seeking to underpin customer retention and growth. The importance of communicating value (the #1 driver of decisions by customers) to key customer segments is matched by the interest of brands to ensure campaign performance and in both these dimensions, customer-led media has emerged as a compelling proposition.

Shopper screen at The Ponds

The other key theme has been the relationship between eCommerce and digital. While eCommerce (in grocery and everyday needs) continues to grow steadily, customers are increasingly engaging with Digital platforms beyond transactions. In the case of the Woolworths Group, we now have more digital than physical visits with customers online seeking discovery, inspiration (food or gift ideas) or value (Everyday Rewards offers) and digital plays a key role not just in online shopping but in store as well. Connecting the digital and physical experience for customers remains a significant opportunity for brands.

As we look forward, in a few words, 2024 will be about; contextualisation, privacy and value.

As customers continue to look for convenience and personalised ways to shop, brands and retailers are increasingly relying on a robust understanding of customers through first-party data to provide a contextually relevant and tailored experience for customers.

While the retail landscape continues to evolve, brands and retailers that are able to effectively use first-party data will be well-positioned to succeed. By understanding their customers on a deeper level, brands and retailers can deliver more personalised and relevant experiences that engage customers and meet their needs.

Consumer and regulatory focus on privacy reforms continues to gain momentum and will progress early in the year with tangible impacts to the media sector. This is a crucial step in recognising the importance of strong privacy practices and the integrity and care in which retailers should be handling personal information of customers. The implications for brands of a more constrained approach by publishers to data have been extensively discussed across the media industry and a thoughtful, customer-first approach to help brands reach their customers is accessible through Retail Media.

Finally, households will remain under financial pressure. The impact of interest rate rises will offset headline CPI falls and consumer confidence remains below the same time last year. Value will remain key for customers, but it’s not all about the dollars and cents. Customers will look to retailers and brands for value through product quality, loyalty offerings and more.

Retail Media will continue to evolve and be an opportunity for brands to drive real customer impact.