Three years ago, the first time The Hub Magazine asked agencies and brand marketers to identify the best practitioners in shopper marketing, we were overwhelmed by 726 responses. This year, we received 2,489 (!) responses, reflecting considerable growth in shopper marketing since early 2008. That year, this year — and each intervening year — Mars Advertising claimed the top spot on the agency chart. For the third year in a row, RPM Connect was second among agencies, and for the first time, JWT/OgilvyAction was third.
For the second year in a row, Unilever is ranked first among brand marketers, with ConAgra and Procter & Gamble rounding out the top three. Our congratulations to each of these companies and the 18 other agencies and brand marketers in the Hub Top 12 this year! For those hoping to fare better next year, I’d like to call attention to what is easily the most dramatic, and perhaps unsettling, finding of this year’s survey. For each of the last four surveys, brand marketers ranked agency “research capabilities” third or fourth. This year, however, “research capabilities” fell to dead last — #13 on the list.
It’s certainly curious that the research that is so vital to shopper-marketing success seems to have tanked among agencies, at least in the eyes of their clients. I’ll leave it to others to speculate on why this is. But it made me think of my all-time favorite marketing quote, from the late, great, Paul Newman, who once said: “You can get straight A’s in marketing and still flunk ordinary life.” It’s just a gentle, respectful reminder that creating the machinery of shopper marketing is one thing; making it meaningful to shoppers in their daily lives is quite another. Complete results of the Hub Top 12 for 2011, including analysis by Dr. Dan Flint of the University of Tennessee, is here.