NEW YORK: Shopper marketing is gaining popularity among US brand owners, with digital tools also now playing a major role in their activities, a new survey has revealed.

GfK Interscope, the research firm, polled 300 executives from the consumer packaged goods and retail sectors, and reported 95% of the panel were currently involved in shopper marketing initiatives.

Another 80% argued this discipline is integral to company growth prospects going forward, and 60% stated it was facilitating enhanced collaboration between retailers and manufacturers.

Half of the business leaders interviewed also suggested corporate innovation programmes were increasingly focused on this channel.

Three-quarters of the enterprises represented allocated at least 5% of their marketing budgets to this area, up from 69% in 2010 and 56% in 2008.

Looking ahead, 28% of organisations are already raising investment levels in shopper marketing, and 47% plan to do so during the coming two years.

The most widespread strategies at present include using online vouchers and deals, employed as a main tactic by around half of the firms assessed, with mobile websites on 37%.

Elsewhere, a third of advertisers have turned to QR codes featured on point-of-purchase and in-store marketing materials.

A similar number sent coupons directly to wireless handsets or had joined the mobile marketing schemes run by retailers.

Two-thirds of industry experts agreed digital and mobile channels are set to reshape the shopping experience in the next four years, and a majority thought the balance would tip towards customers.

While 90% of the sample believed consumer insights were "important" or "extremely important" to their shopper marketing success, only half described current in-house arrangements here as "strong".

"A robust shopper insights foundation is key," Alison Chaltas, a founding principal at GfK Interscope, told CS News Online. "However, there is a shopper insights capability gap."

Data sourced from CS News Online; additional content by Warc staff