TORONTO: Walmart Canada, the retailer, is ramping up its focus on digital shopper marketing, a move which necessarily reflects the changing habits of consumers.

Drew Cashmore, Walmart Canada's senior director/digital and shopper marketing, discussed this topic at a recent conference. And he reported that the mainstays of the discipline were typically highly analogue in form.

"Shopper marketing has been around for years, but in a traditional sense … with coupons and flyers," he said. (For more, including details of how the firm has driven digital change, read Warc's exclusive report: Walmart Canada builds a digital shopper-marketing experience.)

"One of the challenges we have when we're building digital programs is that vendors understand flyers. Vendors understand couponing. They understand deals. And so does the consumer."

Cashmore emphasised that tactics like circulars and discount vouchers are still extremely effective, and would thus remain a key component within the mix.

But as social media, mobile apps and similar technologies exert an increasingly profound influence on consumer behaviour and choices, a range of digital tools must be incorporated into campaigns as well.

"We needed to reframe the conversation," said Cashmore. "The reality is that the consumer has shifted, and we are at risk of not being successful in the future if we don't shift with them."

As part of this process, Walmart Canada reimagined its online presence, refining its web platform over the course of various iterations to ensure both corporate and customer requirements were fully served.

Enhancing its online offering, however, is only one element of a far broader attempt by the company to understand its audience, wherever they come into contact with the Walmart brand.

"We're trying to understand the consumer behaviours, not just online, but across the entire online/offline experience … [We need to learn] how we can talk to the consumers in a very efficient way," Cashmore said.

Although "we're not yet at the final stage" of the integrated programme, he added, "what we do know is that it will likely be a shift in overall brand dollars towards more … shopper-marketing initiatives".

Data sourced from Warc