The rising retail media wave with GfK’s Ishan Bhaumik

February 21, 2023

Retail media is one of the biggest trends of 2023 so far. But what does it mean for marketers today and how can they capitalize on it from both a brand and performance perspective?

The rising retail media wave with GfK’s Ishan Bhaumik

Retail media is one of the biggest trends of 2023 so far. But what does it mean for marketers today and how can they capitalize on it from both a brand and performance perspective?

On a recent episode of Alchemy, Jeff Ragovin, Chief Commercial Officer at Fyllo, sat down with Ishan Bhaumik, Global Vice President at GfK, the leader in data analytics providing intelligence to the consumer goods industry,  to discuss the growing demand for cannabis & CBD audience insights, Twitter allowing cannabis ads and the rising wave of retail media.

The rising retail media wave with GfK’s Ishan Bhaumik

Jeff Ragovin: Talk to us about any interesting trends you are seeing from cannabis and CBD consumers. 

Ishan Bhaumik: We can say all day that cannabis consumers are important but let’s talk about MRI-Simmons data which is by far what’s used widely in media planning today for U.S. agencies. We have a cannabis study that we’ve been doing since 2018 – one of the longest-running ones that measure all types of consumer behavior around cannabis and CBD.

Jeff Ragovin: Why did MRI-Simmons decide to do a study on cannabis & CBD consumers?

Ishan Bhaumik: We have what’s called a national study (approx. 50,000 respondents) that normalized and calibrated to the entire U.S. general population. What we do is we have these focus studies that hang off that and are fuzed back to the national studies. We are all about very topical trends and cannabis is one of them, esports is one of them, crypto is one of them. So it’s really demand-driven and we are really happy to be amongst the first to see that this was an emerging trend, especially in topics that the agencies cared about. 

The biggest feedback we got back then was the normalization of the cannabis consumer. Before it was all the stoner stereotype and the biggest thing I mentioned back then was the fact that cannabis consumers over-index on being triathletes. If that’s not going to blast away your stereotypes of cannabis consumers then nothing else will. 

Jeff Ragovin: At GfK, you're helping your strategic accounts (Snap, TikTok and Amazon) grow. Twitter just became the first social platform to allow cannabis advertising. Do you have any thoughts on their announcement?

Ishan Bhaumik: I think that’s a huge deal and frankly the reason why we approached Fyllo with MRI-Simmons data to syndicate is that our data was being prohibited in places like Oracle Data Marketplace. 

Jeff Ragovin: What are you seeing out in terms of key drivers of growth?

Ishan Bhaumik: Amazon has become a beast in terms of retail media. That’s definitely a topic that I’ve not become an expert in by any stretch of the imagination but definitely been a sponge for, especially in the last six months where there’s so much information about how retail media is going to be that third wave that people talk about after search and social in terms of advertising. And I love how Fyllo Connect is right there and offering an opportunity for the cannabis industry to get into retail media in brick and mortar when maybe they don't know exactly how or they don't have the inventory to do so. 

People go to brick and mortar and moreover this is going to offer the ability to reach those hard-to-reach audiences that are stopping watching linear TV and stopping to do a lot of media activities. They’ll still be out and about. I think this is why retail media is seeing the growth that it is. People are there, especially at a brick and mortar location, to already shop so they are close to that consideration point and especially in cannabis the consideration isn't very large – you're there and you're going to buy and that’s going to be all part of that experience that Fyllo is setting up and I love it. 

Jeff Ragovin: Any insight you can offer into what’s driving the growth of retail media today?

Ishan Bhaumik: People are interested in that full-funnel attribution. Google invented it with search and now that first-party data is becoming more important and all of these online signals are going away, attribution and measurement are still going to be key so retail media is attracting a lot of budgets because it is that connection to sales that all the brands and agencies care about and since these folks are going to own it an actually even provide it to the open web with Amazon having its own DSP and so forth and so on it’s just going to be that much more important to connect the return on ad spend to the campaigns and the dollars that these brands are asking for. So that’s where I see it just becomes a continuation of that first-party data story as first-party data is going to be more and more owned by the folks that are in the retail media space. That's why you see companies like CVS getting into retail media; they have all that first-party data that they can connect to the campaign and show that ROAS for the brand advertiser then it's going to be what they are craving. 

As you know Jeff, it's becoming more and more complicated for marketers because all the platforms are proliferating, all the walled gardens are getting bigger walls and so you need independent third-party measurement and that’s what GfK does. You can’t grade your own homework. Amazon’s studies of themselves are going to sow a great ROAS but what does an independent measure of these products say?

Jeff Ragovin: Anything a brand can be doing to capitalize on the growth of retail media? 

Ishan Bhaumik: Brands are looking at their budgets and saying "What can we move to retail media to test it out?” If they haven't already, I would encourage them to look at their top-of-funnel brand budgets and encourage that money to be allocated for retail media because there are a lot of brand opportunities too. A lot of people are thinking about retail media in the context of performance because it makes sense at the bottom of the funnel, closer to purchase data but companies like GfK have abilities to measure that top of the funnel and when I say top of funnel I mean like the accumulative long term effects of a campaign and its harder because you have to start doing things in data science but it is here now and it's great because what’s old is new again, things like mixed market modeling are back in fashion because of that and you’ll find out that a significant portion of a brand’s budget goes to long term ROI, it's just been harder in the past to measure that. 

This transcription has been paraphrased for editorial purposes. Listen to the full episode here.

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