2020 Path to Purchase Expo Recap


PUBLISHED: 11/20/2020

Our retail team recently attended the Path to Purchase Expo Digital 2020, a shopper and retail marketing conference that highlights innovations in the path to purchase. Unsurprisingly, this year’s theme was the impact of COVID-19 and the rapid acceleration of retail pivots that followed.


We’ve seen this need to pivot quickly with our own retail clients, and those trends were reiterated across the conference session topics. The single biggest takeaway is that the old way of marketing is over. Shopper habits and shifts in the retail world are expected to be permanent, and brands and retailers alike have to be prepared to take risks and adapt to a post-pandemic environment.



COVID-19 is not a disruption. It’s an accelerant. It has magnified and accelerated everything that is good and everything that is bad.

Greg Petro, CEO, First Insight

Shopper marketing is a key component of any brand’s marketing mix, but this new normal requires a new mindset. Using the 2008 recession as a benchmark, it’s expected that only 10% of brands will truly thrive post-pandemic and it will be those that embrace the innovation gap between pre-COVID and post-COVID environments.


One issue that brands face is the lack of standard measurement for shopper marketing. It’s a pain point for over 80% of us, in part because many of our objectives — customer loyalty, brand perception, stronger retailer relationships — are harder to quantify. But building on those things, and translating them into a more valuable e-commerce experience for your customers, will drive success in a post-COVID world.


A few critical considerations for a more omnichannel approach:

  • Build digital into the fabric of your shopper marketing initiatives. Ensure all of your team members have digital expertise.
  • Provide real-time, instant access to in-store inventory and fast shipping updates
  • Pair data with intuition: we’ve fundamentally changed how we live as a result of COVID, and it’s impacted us all
  • Prioritize your relationship with your shopper. The loyalty you’ve built will sustain through operating shifts if they feel taken care of.
  • Consider CRM as a means of direct communication and gathering first-party data
  • Be relevant and timely. Walmart has seen huge success with targeted ads in-store, reminding shoppers of prior searches and providing in-store location to prompt purchase.


Above all, be prepared to break norms. Identify how you want to operate as a brand in the future, and think big, start small and scale fast.