13 speakers, 4 panels. A full day dedicated to retail marketing, on June 3rd 2021, at the Herăstrău Complex, the Diplomat hall, where the 3rd edition of Shopgrade will take place. AdHugger talked with Anton Gherca, CIO at g7, the event’s organizer, about the event’s growth during the years, pandemic and its impact on the industry, retail marketing and trends.
How hard was to organize this edition, taking in consideration the legislation and the pandemic?
From the onset we’ve decided to do everything in our powers to host an offline event. Not that online communication doesn’t work, but we’ve felt there is already a video-conferencing fatigue setting-in. When you get people in the same space, there are more chances of “magic” happening. Also, as speakers in online events ourselves, we know that it is more challenging and less rewarding to present in front of a screen and not be able to connect to the audience and the vibe in the room.
As there aren’t many live events these days, we were lucky to find availability in many venues, so that part was fairly easy. Still, it has been a risky bet and we’ve been checking on a daily basis the reports on the pandemic. When the authorities announced the easing of restrictions we were relieved.
What were your goals at the first two editions and how happy were you with the final results?
We’ve started hosting Shopgrade because we feel that in the Retail Marketing space there is a bit too much powerplay and a bit too less collaboration between retailers, producers and agencies. So we wanted to bring everybody on the same page, at least for one day. A day in which retail marketing professionals can connect to each other, to the changes in shoppers’ behavior and to the worldwide trends. At the previous events we believed we’ve succeeded in doing just that.
How have the themes and the number of speakers / discussions evolved since the first edition?
Over the time the format of the event wen through some updates. If the first edition was very much focused on workshops, the second one was more like a typical conference. We’ve even had speakers from outside the country. This year we’ve moved to a format similar to TED, with a larger line-up and 18 minutes interventions from the speakers. It is just so much happening now with the post-pandemic world that we’ve felt the need to bring more expert opinions in front of the audience and look at the reality from different perspectives.
What are your goals and expectations from this edition?
We were planning to double the attendance for this edition, but unfortunately the regulations still can’t accommodate this. We wanted also to get some amazing speakers on the lineup and we’re happy to having succeeded doing that. We will be joined by professionals whom we highly respect and entrepreneurs that are building new tools for our industry. In the end, I would say our goal is just to enable people to reconnect and look with excitement at the developments and opportunities in retail marketing.
g7 moved from the omnichannel positioning to the retail marketing one. Why did you make that strategic move?
Omnichannel is a great shift that is happening across retail and it is the lens through which all consumer journeys should be decoded. Yet we’ve felt that our local market still has some steps to take until we reach that point. Functions are still to departmentalized not only within retailers’ or manufacturers’ organizations, but also within agencies. We’ve tried to burn a couple of steps, but, in time, we’ve realized that it is premature and that we need to move in the same time with the market. This is why we’ve re-evaluated what is valuable to our clients and partners today, not in 5 years from now. We’ve also looked inside and re-discovered our key-strengths. And the reality is that g7 is about retail marketing. It has been so ever since the first in-store project more than 20 years ago. We are proficient in this area and we are happy to talk about it with everyone. That’s why our current positioning, Retail Extroverts, does a very good job at capturing the ethos of our agency. This doesn’t mean we don’t see the role of online and digital in our projects. As a trivia fact, we now have more software engineers on our team than we have copywriters.
What are your expectations and desires from the industry at this moment in time?
We strongly believe that there is also a silver lining in the difficult moment the world just went through. Many assumptions about how we function as a society were put to test and proven wrong. We see much more openness now from the market to try things out, experiment and look at retail and shopper activation with a pair of new eyes.
What are, in your opinion, the main retail marketing trends of 2021 and why?
We believe that 2021 will solidify some trends that were accelerated by the pandemic, but were already happening before Covid. The expansion of digital channels to include also grocery shopping, the staff-less stores, the proliferation of digital loyalty platforms. These were already developing, but not with this accelerated pace. For retail marketing the biggest trend we see is the transformation of the shop-floor in something more similar to a showroom, in which the purchase is not the sole purpose of shopper activation (and maybe not even the most important), and in which the experience shoppers have with brands or retailers takes center-stage.