By Steve McClellan
New group’s specialty will be retail shopper marketing
Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands is launching ShelfLife, an agency specializing in retail shopper marketing.
John Ross, currently president of the IPG Emerging Media Lab, will head the new shop. Ross will report to Matt Freeman, CEO, Mediabrands Ventures.
Ross will retain oversight of the Lab as executive director, while Brian Monahan, head of social media at IPG’s Universal McCann, has been tapped to run it on a day-to-day basis.
The new shopper-marketing agency will focus on generating insights, plans and activations surrounding the consumer shopping experience. It seeks to leverage the key influences that lead to the purchase of specific products ranging from everyday package goods to automobiles and other high-end goods and services.
“The journey from consumer to purchaser, from undecided to decided, is poorly understood,” said Ross. Plotting that journey point by point and calculating the multitude of factors that influence the purchase decision is “at the heart of the practice,” he said.
“Decision making at retail does not begin with a store visit,” Ross added. “Most shopper journeys begin outside the store, with shopper influence coming from a variety of sources,” including online search, word-of-mouth, ads and social media, among others.
ShelfLife will be based in Atlanta, where Ross has been located since joining the holding company a year ago. IPG is also building a second research lab in Atlanta that will be aligned with the new agency. It has been dubbed the Shopper Insight Center. Having research labs on both coasts, “gives us a real one-two punch,” he said.
ShelflLife will pursue clients already doing business with IPG, as well as companies not currently on the holding company’s account roster, said Ross.
Ross joined Mediabrands in July ’09 after spending 12 years in various roles at The Home Depot, where he rose to vp, advertising, marketing and consumer incentives.
A priority for the Lab during Ross’ tenure has been to gather insights about purchasing decisions. The Lab’s work in that area led to the decision to start the new agency, said Ross.
Word of the new shop follows by just a few days the unveiling of a related retail venture between Mediabrands and AOL. That initiative is designed to glean greater insights into how consumers do research before making product purchases. The partners said they would use the insights to create new digital tools and programs to help boost the efficiency of marketing campaigns and increase sales.
The official kickoff of the new agency will take place July 28, when Mediabrands will host clients, vendors and the press at a launch party. By that time, said Ross, the shop will be prepared to announce its charter clients (a handful are already on board) and the key management team.
The new agency will work closely IPG’s experiential marketing shop Momentum Worldwide. In effect, ShelfLife obtains instant scale, connected to a network of more than 70 offices worldwide at launch.