Retail Marketing

What Is Retail Marketing?

Retail marketing encompasses all of the ways a consumer business attracts customers and generates sales of its goods and services. Retail marketing strategies touch virtually everything in a company’s operations, including signage, store layout, sales and promotions, pricing strategies, advertising, checkout processes, and customer service.

A retail marketing mix is similar to the traditional marketing mix, also known as the “4 Ps” of marketing. These include product, pricing, place, and promotion. The retail marketing mix adds two more “Ps” to the mix: people and presentation. These elements represent the value of sales associates and other staff in retail settings, as well as the importance of aesthetics and design in retail locations.

What’s the Most Important Thing about Retail Marketing?

The right marketing mix is a must-have differentiator in the highly competitive retail industry. Rich retail data on customer demographics provides significant opportunities to test and optimize all aspects of the “6 Ps.” These strategies include enhanced in-store marketing and merchandising, unification of online and offline data, effective pricing strategies, improved conversion rates, and better overall shopping experiences. All types of retailers, from small “mom-and-pop” businesses to national big-box merchants, can capitalize on retail data to optimize their retail marketing mix.

Retail Marketing Mix: The 6 Ps

As noted earlier, the four Ps of marketing are product, pricing, place, and promotion. The retail marketing mix adds two more: people and presentation.


The product is the item purchased by a customer. An effective product must capably solve a customer need or perform a desired function. A product may be combined with related products and purchased in a set or bundle.


The price of a product is set by the retailer and designates how much money the consumer pays to receive it. Price can play a role in the popularity of a product, especially if consumers perceive that a product’s price is low relative to the value it provides. 


Placement refers to where the product is sold. For example, does a retailer sell a product in its store, on its website or in both places? In addition, some products might be sold in some stores (like supermarkets) but not other stores (like department stores).


Promotion refers to the assorted marketing activities to generate interest in the product and drive sales. Promotional tactics include advertising, public relations and special sales (for example, discounts or special offers). 


People refers to company representatives (for example, employees, contractors, or partners) who interact with customers in a retail setting. These representatives might answer questions about products or verify product details, such as availability and sale price. In some retail settings (for example, the sale of large, flat-screen televisions), people can be directly responsible for converting “just looking” visitors into purchasing customers.


Presentation refers to the experiential design of a retail setting. Presentation elements include furniture, signage, wallpaper and retail space layout. The Apple Store is known for its sleek aesthetic and design—an all-glass front side, with long rows of tables featuring Apple products.

What Is a Retail Marketing Manager?

A retail marketing manager uses online and offline marketing tactics to drive awareness and purchase of a company’s retail products. The retail marketing manager may be a sole practitioner or may be part of a team of marketing managers. 

The marketing manager typically reports to a marketing manager, a marketing director or a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) based in the corporate or headquarters office. In some cases, the retail marketing manager reports to a manager in store operations (for example, the manager for a particular store or the general manager for a region).

While a retail marketing manager may spend time in retail store settings, the majority of time is spent in a home office or in a corporate office. A retail marketing manager has responsibilities in common with a marketing manager or a digital marketing manager. These responsibilities include:

  • Running and managing online marketing campaigns
  • Managing and overseeing digital advertising (for example, paid search, display advertising, retargeting, etc.)
  • Providing weekly or monthly campaign reports to management
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing: special offers, email newsletters, etc.

How is retail marketing different from marketing?

On top of these responsibilities, the retail marketing manager engages in retail-specific activities. These activities include in-store displays and promotions, in-store circulars, point-of-sale materials and window banners. In addition, the retail marketing manager might purchase advertisements in coupon circulars, magazines and local newspapers. Some retail marketing managers run commercials on terrestrial radio and on local television stations.

Hiring managers prefer retail marketing managers with direct experience in online and offline marketing. In addition, previous retail experience is preferred, since candidates will be familiar with store operations and retail customer behavior and preferences.

What is retail convergence?

“Retail convergence” refers to the seamless blending of digital and physical shopping experiences. Retail marketers need to create and sustain this seamless blending. The popularity of “in-store pick-up” is one example: online users browse a store’s products on the web or in a mobile app. They add items to the shopping cart and at checkout, select an option to select a nearby store to pick up the purchased items.

To make this work, retailers need to present the store locations near the customer, then determine if the selected store has the purchased products in inventory. Customers enjoy this arrangement because they avoid walking the aisles of a physical store searching for products on the shelves. They find it far easier to find products by searching the store’s website, then visiting the physical store to pick up the purchased items.

While in-store pick-up is one example of retail convergence, stores will soon develop new ways to tie the physical and digital shopping experiences together. When retail convergence is done well, shoppers will focus entirely on what they’re shopping for and forget about where they’re doing it from. They’ll simply think “I’m shopping,” rather than associating that activity with a laptop, tablet, smartphone or physical store.

How Big Data Is Changing Retail Marketing Analytics

Big Data refers to the analysis and insights generated from large data sets that are typically too large or complex to be processed by typical or conventional data processing systems. Big Data is applicable to retail marketing analytics due to the size and complexity of data captured by retail systems. The data feeding retail marketing analytics comes from point-of-sale (POS) systems, store websites and mobile apps, loyalty programs and credit card transactions. 

Retail marketing analytics benefits from big data through new and interesting insights that were not previously available. Big Data is used to analyze customer shopping habits and patterns, in order to uncover ways to attract new customers. It can also be used to enhance personalized offers and forecast future events and trends. 

Another example of Big Data in retail marketing analytics is the detection and prevention of credit card fraud. Purchase attempts from a credit card user can be analyzed against multiple factors. For example, the geo-location of the credit card request can be matched against recent purchases made by the card holder. The card holder’s travel frequency can also be factored in. Fraud detection systems can now predict with high accuracy whether a requested purchase is fraudulent.

What is a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brand?

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) is a relatively recent business model in which brands use an online presence to sell directly to customers. In a sense, retail marketing is the essence of a DTC brand, since marketing makes and defines the brand.

Because DTC brands sell directly to customers, there is no “middle man” (such as a retail store or third party) involved. Most DTC brands launch as a 100% online business. As a result of having a lower cost structure due to a lack of physical stores and related overhead, DTC brands can pass savings along to customers in the form of lower prices.

DTC brands give smaller companies a chance to compete with much larger businesses. With lower overhead and costs, DTC businesses can focus on building a brand (using retail marketing) and delighting customers. Because of the direct relationship with customers, it’s incumbent on DTC brands to provide an excellent customer experience to retain customers and encourage customer advocacy.

In later stages of growth, a DTC brand may open physical stores or partner with retailers that carry its products in stores. Examples of well-known DTC brands are:

  • Casper, which sells sleep products. It was founded in 2014 and went public in 2020.
  • Warby Parker, which sells prescription glasses and sunglasses. The company sells online, but also has retail locations in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Everlane, a clothing retailer.
  • Dollar Shave Club, a men’s razor subscription service that was acquired by Unilever in 2016. 
  • Harry’s, a men’s razor subscription service that launched in 2013.
  • Billie, a women’s shaving brand launched in 2017.
Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson is the Founder and CEO of RoC Consulting, a digital consultancy that helps brands establish the optimal balance of content, technology and marketing to achieve their goals.

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