Shopper's Marketing

Shopper marketing is "understanding how one's target consumers behave as shoppers, in different channels and formats, and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers."

According to Chris Hoyt "Shopper marketing [is] brand marketing in retail environment." Since it includes category management, displays, sales, packaging, promotion, research and marketing "Shopper marketing is the elephant in the room that nobody sees the same way." ([Shopper Marketing book], Kogan Page 2009)

Shopper marketing is not limited to in-store marketing activities, a common and highly inaccurate assumption that impairs the spread of any industry definition. Shopper marketing must be part of an overall integrated marketing approach that considers the opportunities to drive consumption and identifies the shopper that would need to purchase a brand to enable that consumption. These shoppers need to be understood in terms of how well they interpret the needs of the consumer, what their own needs as a shopper are, where they are likely to shop, in which stores they can be influenced in, and what in-store activity influences them.

Unilever defines a shopper insight, an insight upon which shopper marketing is based - as a "focus on the process that takes place between that first thought the consumer has about purchasing an item, all the way through the selection of that item."

Shopper marketing challenges the assumption that the shopper and the consumer are the same. Despite the fact that this is not always true (consider the consumer and shopper of pet food for a moment) it is clear that the industry still gets confused.

Shopper marketing is important for many reasons, but it is clearly of importance to manufacturers if for no other reason that they spend vast amounts of money on it, and that these amounts are increasing. Many organizations spend over 8% of total sales on in-store marketing; when total trade spend is added up it can often top 40% of total revenue.

In shopper marketing, manufacturers target portions of their marketing investment at specific retailers or retail environments. Such targeting is dependent on congruency of objectives, targets and strategies between the manufacturer and a given retailer or a given type of retail environment.

A significant factor in the rise of shopper marketing is the availability of high quality data from which insights may be gleaned to help shape strategic plans. According to recent industry studies, manufacturer investment in shopper marketing is growing more than 21% annually.

For instance, Procter & Gamble, according to the company’s financial statements, invests at least 500 million dollars in shopper marketing each year. Procter & Gamble's Wal-Mart Customer Team as well as ThompsonMurray (now Saatchi & Saatchi X), are considered by many as the original pioneers in true Shopper Marketing in the US. Shopper marketing is also practiced by the leading European companies such as Unilever and Beiersdorf and the discipline is developed further by the likes of Phenomena Group, Europe's first shopper marketing agency.

The following statistics have caused the reapportionment of marketing investment from consumer marketing to shopper marketing (it must be noted that what follows is ultimately very misleading; each brand performs differently based on shopper need states, shopper trip types, retailer formats, brand importance, brand relevance and a host of other factors:

  • 70% of brand selections are made at stores
  • 68% of buying decisions are unplanned
  • 5% are loyal to the brand of one product group

Practitioners believe that effective shopper marketing is increasingly important to achieve success in the marketplace 

Companies that have embraced shopper marketing as an integral part of the marketing mix are growing 50% faster than the categories in which they participate. The most advanced shopper marketers are growing at almost double the rate of their respective categories. 90% of manufacturers with more advanced shopper marketing capabilities report that the discipline helps them effectively meet retailer needs and boost top-line growth.

Most marketers agree that consumers don’t really buy products or brands. Consumers buy what those brands promise to do for them — how they make them look, feel and how they contribute to their own self-identity. Shopper marketing contributes to brand-building efforts among a targeted audience via the retail environment. In the old marketing scenario, budgeting decisions were based on sacrificing longer-term brand building for shorter-term volume gains. However, with shopper marketing, both objectives can be readily achieved simultaneously.

Much of our lives is spent living in a mosaic of messages from brands, products and other consumers. We filter out most of this noise, but in a moment of awakening, something breaks through the clutter and gets noticed. It is then that the shopper is ready to heed the call and embark upon her Journey.

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