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Guided by Culture, Connected to Consumers (Always): Stella Rising’s Key Shoptalk Takeaways

12 Apr 2024 Marjorie Powers

in Media, Digital, Trending

Our time at Shoptalk last month was packed with new insights as well as confirmation of trends we’ve been observing here at Stella. AI was undoubtedly a major theme, with a consensus that the technology is over-hyped in the short term but underestimated in the long term. AI was highlighted for its strength in automation, efficiency, and innovation—what we well know it for—whereas humans will increasingly shine via soft skills. The focus on AI was certainly exciting, but our top takeaways instead center on the holistic, macro-level trends at play with consumers and the best ways to connect with them. Let’s dive in: 

Stella Shoptalk Takeaway #1: Everything Needs to Be Consumer Centric—And That Starts with Understanding (Complicated) Consumers

It is, in many ways, a confusing moment in our economy: the macro-economic indicators—such as GDP growth, higher than expected corporate profits, and job openings, paired with our robust COVID economic recovery—are very positive. However, consumer sentiment is low, with many consumers reporting they are trading down and feeling tight. One of our favorite presentations was delivered by Kelsey Robinson, Senior Partner at McKinsey, who tasked brands with getting to know their consumer—in particular because there is increasing divergence in consumer sentiment and cash flow and balance by income level.

Further, per Robinson, we are living in the world of “ands”:

  • Things seem to have stabilized AND there are still concerns
  • Consumers are splurging selectively AND trading down
  • Consumers are saving on food AND spending on restaurants
  • Consumers are demanding sustainability AND affordability

Marketing challenges, now, need an “all, yes, and” approach; when we say “yes, and” we address the reality of the situation. As brand marketers, we need to really understand consumers in this moment—their confusion, nuances, contradictions, and all. What’s more, we have to listen to the consumer and ingest that feedback into everything we do—and respond when we can, and meaningfully.

Heidi Cooley, SVP and CMO at Crocs, advised brands to stay close to consumers and culture, as the vast majority of Crocs' ideas come from social listening, inclusive of reviews.

At Stella Rising, we have always rallied our actions around consumer insights—those learnings validate all of our strategies. Consumer desire for seamless unified shopping experiences is growing, and we can use media investments to create the commerce experiences consumers crave.


Stella Shoptalk Takeaway #2: Commerce is Happening Everywhere

Shoppability, a major theme, also went by the names of Commerce Everywhere, Seamless Shopping, and Unified Commerce. The way that we shop is changing—Jasmine Enberg, Principal Analyst at eMarketer, showed how Amazon is now where consumers start their product searchfollowed by:

  • Search engine
  • Walmart.com
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest

The sources shown in pink, above, indicate YoY growth in the % of shoppers who start their search on that channel.

Discovery is happening more on social than shelf, per Jill Toscano, VP, Head of Media, at Walmart—and meeting users where they are, with shoppability, helps consumers get what they want, when they want it. To that point, social commerce is thriving: sales are projected to reach $82.2B this year, rising to $144.52B by 2027.

Relatedly, shoppable video—seen by many at Shoptalk as the next frontier in retail media—can stimulate even more demand. 94% of buyers say that video influences purchasing decisions—and 54% want more video from brands they love. Simply put: brands can earn the right into consumers’ networks through entertainment and shoppability.

The discovery, search, and shopping processes are changing dramatically; every touchpoint is an opportunity to build brand and create a shopping experience. Brands need to unify communications and meet consumers where they are—and then deliver the right message.


Stella Shoptalk Takeaway #3: Commerce Everything: All Together, At the Same Time

Commerce needs to be at the forefront of all that you are doing, and media should be able to create a unified experience for shoppers. We see the continuing blurring of channel roles—and know that a good commerce plan can build brand too!

This is a new generation of consumers, each with a store in their pocket. Re-consider your creative as a vehicle to drive discovery AND purchase, because shoppable experiences drive desire in-feed. Entertainment is shoppable video’s next playground—and shoppable videos can stimulate more demand. Keep trying new things.

We have always focused on distilling the job of each channel—with a unique KPI (remember ROAS is an efficiency performance KPI, not an output)—as part of a larger plan.


 The Stella TLDR: Build a Unified Consumer Centric plan and keep testing new shoppable opportunities.


At Stella, consumer insights are rooted in all of our work and strategies. As an agency, it’s our job to distill the human story, understand moments of connection, and bring brand stories to life in a compelling, unified, shoppable way.


We create transformative business value for superstar brands through analytics-backed unified media and marketing plans. Looking to help your brand shine with consumers in 2024? Connect with us.


Additional Sources: Coresight 2024, Glossy 2024

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