Marketing to Shoppers

Shopper marketing | BCBusiness
Focusing on how people shop can translate into more dollars for retailers.

Understanding how people shop rather than why they shop is becoming to the key to retail marketing

Think of the last time you used toothpaste. After watching clever television animations fighting the plaque in your mouth or women with impossibly white teeth, you are inspired to squeeze some funny-looking paste onto a somewhat worn little brush, starting a ritual repeated thousands of days in your lifetime.

This is the act of consuming toothpaste. This is not how you shop for it.
How do you decide what to buy? Is it the packaging? Is it what’s on sale? Did you come to the store knowing exactly the brand you wanted, or are you swayed by shelf signage, displays or what’s in stock?
You go through the exact same exercise, using the same methodology for every item in your cart—and everything you have ever bought… ever.
Shopper marketing—the act of discovering insights on how people physically buy things and developing campaigns using these insights to link the product, the purchaser and the retailer—has become the fastest growing form of advertising over the past five years.
Its also about understanding the application of marketing through the “path to purchase”: the sometimes non-linear route people take from the moment they need or want an item and the evaluation process of deciding what they need up to and beyond the final transaction.

Marketing used to be about creating awareness for a product, hopefully generating demand. Shopper marketing picks up where that leaves off and manufactures purchase intent at value-added touch points along the way, using everything from mobile and social technology, creative merchandising and yes, even coupons.
What’s interesting about shopper-marketing theory is that it can be applied anywhere something can be bought. From Overwaitea to Future Shop, many B.C.-based businesses have been successful in employing tools and tactics that drive both awareness and purchase intent, translating shopper behaviour into real dollars.
When developing your next marketing campaign, don’t only think about what you want people to buy, but how they will buy it. You may just find the sale coming a bit quicker.

Top Five Shopper-Marketing Tips

1. Understand—definitively—who your shopper is
Spend time doing demographic ethnography in the store and cross-reference it with your POS and loyalty data. This is a big job, but will ultimately pay off in spades, as you will be able to cross-segment shopper profile, trip type and basket composition to drive everything from promotional strategy to supply-chain efficiencies.

2. Establish a shopper-marketing owner
Is it sales? Is it operations? Is it marketing? Most effectively, it will be some combination of all three, who understands the nature of integration required across all functions.

3. Dissect your shopper’s path to purchase
You will need a solid comprehension of how each shop is done in order to plan effective tactics against it. Is your shopper informed more by the flyer or by your Facebook page? Do they employ “showrooming” tactics with their mobile devices or are they motivated by TV commercials or localized direct-mail campaigns? You will be able to get better returns by understanding the shopper’s emotional—and physical—investment in your materials as they progress through the store.

4. Define your objectives upfront
Are you aiming for category or basket growth? Are you trying to change how they hear about your store or how they navigate it once they are there? Without firm goalposts on the upfront, you won’t have the ability to course-correct during the campaign, nor will you be able to show the true value of the direct profit contribution back to the organization.

5. It is nothing without the insight
Most retailers have spent a lot of time and money understanding “who” is buying their product. The homerun is when you figure out the “why” and “how.”


Jason Dubroy is VP of shopper marketing at DDB Canada. He helps clients realize brand relationships with both retailers and consumers, as well as keeping them abreast of the latest trends in shopper marketing, consumer engagement, marketing integration, retail execution and promotional innovation from around the world.