Alice Anson, Digital Media Director at Nectar360 reflects on the big retail media trends of the summer

With schools having returned for a new year, and many Universities now being back it is starting to feel like Autumn, it’s time to look back on the summer season and reflect on what has happened in retail media. While many of us have been taking a break from work (me included), retailers, brands and agencies have been hard at it. Don’t worry though – I’ve got you covered with some of the most noteworthy news that came out of the retail media industry this not-so-sunny summer. From loyalty programs to new challengers in the space, here’s what went down.

Importance of Loyalty in Building First Party Data for Retail Media

If one thing is for certain it’s that more and more people have been hopping on the loyalty bandwagon or upping their loyalty game this year. The prominence of loyalty cannot be overstated, particularly when it comes to building and harnessing first-party data for a better-tailored retail media experience. By actively participating in loyalty programs and consistently engaging with brands, customers provide a wealth of personal insights and preferences that serve as the cornerstone for effective retail media strategies.

At Nectar360, we’re all about boosting the customer experience by tailoring our messaging and discounts to our customers shopping needs. This summer, Sainsbury’s took a major step forward with their Nectar Price discounts, expanding the range of products to include fresh produce and ready meals. This means that the 18 million Sainsbury’s shoppers with a Nectar card can now enjoy reduced prices on around 3,500 items within the store. Not only does this add an extra layer of convenience to the customer journey, it also provides invaluable insight into customers’ preferences and buying habits, and allows us to create offers tailored specifically to individual purchasing patterns.

Growth of Media Agency Focus Within Retail

The evolution of media agency focus within the realm of retail media has experienced a notable shift towards loyalty, data and tooling in recent months. As the retail scene keeps changing, these agencies are seeing how retail media is the secret ingredient for getting customers excited and growing businesses.

The combo of retail and loyalty has hit the jackpot in recent months for big players like IPG Media, Stagwell’s Assembly, and UM. This has prompted them to create and expand their own retail media enterprises in order to capitalise on the success that this strategy offers, especially during these difficult times. Whilst the proof is in the pudding we’re very excited to partner with many of these agencies in their journey.

Standardisation of Retail Media Metrics

Retail media is booming, and it’s growing faster than ever. Just last September, GroupM predicted a massive 60% growth, expecting retail media spending to hit a whopping $160 billion by 2027. But with this exciting growth, there’s a need to bring some order to the chaos.

This summer the Retail Media Network released a working draft of a retail media standardisation framework. Retail media networks have been doing their own thing for a while, which has caused all sorts of confusion in how we measure and track performance across different networks. That’s where standardisation comes in: a way to set the rules straight.

Big players in the industry, like the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), IAB, our friends at the across the pond retailer Albertsons and even companies like Unilever, have all raised their hands and said we need some consistent rules for measuring success in retail media (don’t worry at Nectar360 we’ve also raised our hand to be part of the solution). But, let’s be honest, defining  these rules is a bit tricky. The world of retail is complex, with lots of moving parts, and finding a one-size-fits-all solution can be quite the challenge. This one I think is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint.

Growth of In-Store as part of Retail Media Networks

One thing we’ve really seen bloom this summer is the use of in-store advertising in retail media. We’ve witnessed how brands such as Walmart and Loblaws are increasingly recognising the potential of in-store spaces as valuable platforms to connect with their customers. From strategic eye-catching displays near checkout counters to digital signage in stores, in-store advertising is making its mark. This trend not only adds a dynamic dimension to the shopping experience but also serves as a powerful tool for brands to communicate their messages directly where customers make their purchasing decisions, ISN has also recently reported that 51% of shoppers are more likely to convert when served shelf-edge digital ads. I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of this in the months to come…

New Challengers in the Retail Space

Of course, we can’t wrap up this summer without giving a nod to the newcomers shaking up the retail media and loyalty landscape. As the industry keeps growing and hitting new milestones, it’s no surprise that more businesses are hopping on the loyalty and retail train.

A few noteworthy mentions from the past few months:

Who do you think we’ll be seeing entering the space next?

Key Takeaways

With so much happening in retail this summer and much more on the horizon, here are my three key takeaways:

  1. With there being so much growth in the industry I think it’s now important that brands swarm around the opportunity and structure themselves accordingly. As retail media continues to grow, brand marketers need to break down their silos and upskill their teams to take advantage.
  2. Of course, the biggest secret ingredient to thriving in retail is to keep a customer-first mindset to continue to drive results. Marketers are spotting retail as the top digital powerhouse in 2023, which means it’s all about pushing those vital sales forward whilst not losing sight of the customer.
  3. It’s clear to see that retail media is still a hot topic area with a lot of noise and IAB are responding to this with their inaugural ‘IAB Retail Media Upfronts taking place in London on October 19…and yes Nectar360 may just be one of their partners!. This event hopes to bring together retailers, marketers, and solution providers to discuss the opportunities and difficulties presented by connected commerce and retail media. Attending this summit is an excellent opportunity to stay ahead of the game in terms of retail media. I hope to see you there!

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