John Ross | January 26, 2016

Effective listening has always been essential to successful marketing and in today's marketplace it has never been more true. Increasing audience fragmentation, pervasive channel promiscuity and accelerating device penetration (dependence?) has created an environment in which trading partners must pay close, careful attention to everything consumers are telling them or risk losing their competitive position. Forever.

This may not be news to some but the newer lesson is that, in order for data-gathering to truly inform share-building strategies, it has to be comprehensive — extending well beyond what can be captured in aisle or at checkout. Knowing what happens in store is crucial but, as so much shopper decision-making takes place pre-trip, trading partners must significantly expand their data capture and intensify their analysis of all acquired information. If they can do that they will gain a more contextual understanding of shopper behavior, be more effective engaging shoppers and be more successful influencing their behavior during their next trip.

To help clients extract actionable insights from the massive data sets available and assist them in developing comprehensive shopper-activation strategies, Inmar has acquired Willard Bishop — a Chicago-based research and analytics firm with 40 years' experience in the consumer packaged goods and retail industries. With the addition of Willard Bishop, Inmar is bringing even deeper retailer and manufacturer domain expertise into our shared operations and expanding our collective solutions offerings well beyond promotions to include everything from pricing assistance to planogram development to profitability consulting.

To quote Inmar Chairman and CEO David Mounts, "The innovation enabled by joining Inmar and Willard Bishop will be transformative." (The press release about the acquisition is available here.)

Those brands and retailers using data to understand and segment shoppers, and deliver a genuinely personalized shopper experience, are distancing themselves from the competition and achieving real success even as the industry continues to contract in the face of greater and greater pressures from any number of sources. And, it's not because they're intrinsically better or smarter than their competitors.

They have simply made the commitment to stop using data exclusively as a forensic tool for measuring past performance and are using it to identify growth opportunities and improve overall business performance. They're actively listening to their shoppers — learning from, anticipating, and acting on not only what shoppers are saying but how they're behaving.

It's what successful marketers do.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below.