NEW YORK: Only a third of firms that engage in shopper marketing believe they are performing strongly in this area, with satisfaction levels having declined during the last year, according to a report.

The Hub Magazine, the trade title, and Hoyt & Company, a consultancy, polled 314 executives, with 35.8% describing their company's output in this area as "excellent" or "very good", down from 59.3% in 2011.

By contrast, the proportion of operators with a self-professed "average" rating rose from 33.5% to 47.2% respectively. These figures reached 7.2% and 17.2% for being "not-so-good" or "poor".

Just 42% of corporations measured results on an account-specific basis, although this hit 100% for players with "excellent" ratings. Comparative scores came in at 23.1% and 53.3% for possessing a dedicated shopper marketing research budget.

Similarly, whereas 46.7% of market leaders committed at least 7% of their advertising and promotional spend to this discipline, the reading across all corporations was 30.4%.

Fully 80% of best practice pioneers had also been active in this space for over five years, versus the 38% average. Totals here stood at 60% and 21.2%  for having over 20 staff working on shopper marketing.

"In essence, what has developed are two types of shopper marketing," said Chris Hoyt, the president of Hoyt & Company. "One is strategic, planned and collaborative; the other, tactical and opportunistic."

A key benefit of this activity, mentioned by nearly 70% of the panel, was "better understanding" the target buyer. An extra 60% pointed to heightened collaboration with retailers.

The same number stated that "cross-functional integration" between shopper marketing, wider marketing teams and sales had improved, while 40% had constructed a "path-to-purchase" communications model.

Enhancing retail penetration yielded a more modest 33% on this metric, and increased retail funding recorded 31%. "Reliably higher sales and ROI" also logged a relatively limited 26%.

When discussing budgets, some 29.7% of interviewees revealed their company  used an ad hoc approach or had no dedicated resources for this channel, measured against 22.7% in 2011.

Another 17.2% of firms directed 1-3% of overall marketing expenditure to this discipline, down from 24.5% in 2011. An additional 22.8% allotted 4-6% of their budgets to this area, a lift of 2.3 percentage points year on year.

Elsewhere, a further 11.4% of businesses allocated 7-10% of their budgets to such efforts, up by 1.9 points on an annual basis. Although shopper marketing took a double-digit share of spend at 19% of enterprises, this lagged the 22.7% registered in 2011.

Data sourced from The Hub Magazine; additional content by Warc staff