CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is asking its agencies to deliver creative ideas that are aimed specifically at the in-store environment, as it seeks to heighten the appeal of its products at the "moment of truth".

It has been argued that a focus on "shopper marketing" will offer FMCG companies a higher return on investment than many other approaches at a time when consumers are pairing back their outlay.

A recent study by Deloitte and the Grocery Manufacturers Association found that the number of brand owners with a dedicated shopper marketing division rose by 23% between 2007 and 2008.

Some 60% of retailers have also increased their own capacity in this area, and it was predicted that in-store communications would continue to grow at a faster rate than any other form of marketing.

The new "store back" programme initiated by P&G is intended to forge a new "mind-set" going forward, said Martha Depenbrock, of its brand-building and stakeholder relations team.

As part of this process, the Cincinnati-based firm's advertising and marketing partners will need to ensure the retail environment is at the forefront of their thinking when they develop new proposals.

"It means you have to have the end in mind when you're coming up with the idea. If it doesn't work at the store, it's a miss," Depenbrock said.

Rather than modifying existing advertising and marketing materials for this context, it is hoped more closely targeted executions will have an increased impact at an essential stage in the purchase process.

Last year, the company promised to provide one tetanus vaccination in a poor country for every promotional pack of Pampers, its nappy brand, bought by consumers, and the easy-to-understand "1 pack = 1 vaccine" motif was an example of a clear and simple in-store platform.

Andy Murray, chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi X, an agency specialising in this field, said P&G's initiative will “bring more shopper-marketing insight work into the upstream ideation process."

Moreover, such schemes will remove the need for agencies to "rework" ads for the retail climate, by "having better insights about the store built into the front end."

Saatchi & Saatchi is one of P&G's major agency partners, as is Grey Group, which houses a shopper marketing unit under its G2 umbrella, with Leo Burnett offering a similar service.

Unofficial estimates suggest the world's biggest advertiser spent $3.5 billion (€2.4bn; £2.2bn) on promotions and shopper marketing in North America in 2008.

This compares with an outlay of $3.2bn on advertising in the US over the same period, based on figures from TNS.

P&G is also now aiming to increase its online sales, and has added "buy now" sections to its branded websites, linking to a variety of different retailers, a strategy it intends to roll out worldwide.

"I would say there are opportunities across virtually all of our categories to be successful in e-commerce because consumers are increasingly online and willing to add new categories of products to their online shopping list," said Joe Quinn, its head of global e-commerce.

Data sourced from AdAge/Business Courier of Cincinnati; additional content by WARC staff