story by Kara Nardoni, special to The City Wire
Rogers-based New Creature was one of the first retailer service suppliers to set up shop in the region in 1999, out in front of the supplier boom that ensued over the next few years.
From it’s early origins, New Creature has grown exponentially since 2009, according to chief operating officer Anthony Bagley, who also said the firm is poised for future expansion and has barely scratched the surface.
In 2009, Bagley said New Creature’s annual revenue was $18 million and has grown almost 155% by 2012 as the company is focused on its services in four key areas of shopper marketing: point of purchase, creative concepts, project management and logistics.
Many suppliers rely on effective shopper marketing to maximize sales at retail chains. Bagley said New Creature provides them with a turnkey approach to handle whatever their client needs from the creative concept throughout the supply chain.
Some of the country’s largest suppliers use New Creature’s services to create merchandising displays, retail packaging, pallets, and promotional kits, including Mars, Disney, Crayola, and Coca-Cola.
Bagley said each facet of the organization works toward the end goal of “helping suppliers sell more stuff.”
A 2012 study conducted by Booz & Co. for the Grocery Manufacturers Association found broad support for shopper marketing programs.
“Shopper solutions create greater influence with retailers, a primary goal of most manufacturers’ shopper marketing initiatives. This year’s industry survey revealed that 87 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that their shopper solution efforts have enabled them to improve their relationships with retail partners,” noted the report.
The report also estimated that the shopper marketing industry is a $50 billion to $60 billion annual market. The work to tie products to consumers is also causing some consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers to add staff.
“(M)any major CPG manufacturers now have shopper marketing organizations staffed with more than 20 dedicated employees (some have 50 or more),” noted the Booz & Co. report.
The report included several examples of unique shopper marketing programs. One of those was the “Get Your Game Face On” conducted by Procter & Gamble in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi X and Walmart. The program connected Walmart shoppers, Gillette razors and a video game.
“The solution, which featured Gillette’s Fusion razors, was based on the insight that the most popular sport among Walmart shoppers is professional football. Accordingly, it teamed up the razors with the Madden NFL video game from EA Sports to activate shoppers with an unexpected pairing. It offered Walmart shoppers a strategy guide to the popular game and limited-edition razors emblazoned with their local NFL team’s logo,” explained the report.
NEW CREATURE’S ‘OCTAGON’
Bagley oversees all operations of New Creature and said the firm’s growth has them planning a West Coast location expansion by 2015. Bagley said this firm’s growth in film, video and gaming release promotions could be supported by a California office.
New Creature has worked with film entertainment companies like Dreamworks and Lionsgate, with its recent Hunger Games promotions and Marvel’s the Avengers. Bagley said a southern California office could help New Creature more efficiently communicate and work with many of Wal-Mart’s largest entertainment suppliers.
In the shorter term, Bagley said New Creature will introduce a new shopper marketing service to suppliers within the next year. This new product tool has been in development since 2011 by the firm.
Bagley said the new service, aptly named “Octagon” will assist suppliers and retailers in working together on projects. He said the tool helps supplier and retailers collaborate and manage eight aspects of effective shopper marketing:
• Idea building
• Project Management
• Document Management
By integrating real-time data, analytics software and social media, Octagon is designed to simplify the merchandising process.
“No one in the area or state has anything like this,” said Bagley. “By creating a way for projects to be done collaboratively, we are to push the shopper marketing world into a new era.”
This spirit of collaboration and innovation found in Octagon is also evident in New Creature’s organizational culture, which Bagley considers to be the company’s competitive advantage. Since inception, the New Creature team has grown from 4 people to 37 — each working to explore new possibilities in shopper marketing.
Bagley said though this internal ambition separates New Creature from their competitors, it is not always easy to match with internal capabilities.
“In order to be successful going into the future, we want to make sure that we stay even and discipline ourselves so that we can embrace the work grind without frustration.”