7 Reasons Why Shopper Marketing is Not Enough.

“Shopper Marketing is the elephant in the room that nobody sees the same way.”
[Markus Stahlberg]

And what an Elephant! Every single client I’ve been lately working with is renaming their trade marketing departments to Shopper Marketing, which is something much more appealing and finally puts their activities at least at the same level that the “traditional” marketing departments. We can find as many definitions of shopper marketing as gurus trying to sell their Shopper Marketing Books, but one I particularly like is the usage of insights in order to target shoppers for creating experiences focusing on business results.

In the past years I have been analyzing the path to purchase and decision journeys of many clients in a decent number of categories, from cars to beauty or energy drinks, and, although there are differences, we can find common patterns in consumers/shoppers behaviors, because at the end, the same shopper buys beers and deodorant in the same purchase. Before listing them, it’s important to understand that in many categories consumers are the same people than shoppers (some call them Shopsumers), and, when it’s not the case (e.g. pet food) the “traditional” marketing is also impacting them (but probably with different values, e.g. kids stuff).

What behaviors are the most common across categories?

Consumers are distrustful towards the brands. Even if the awareness and consideration levels are high, the impact of massive channels is limited for making them try. They use other inputs for getting informed and check the brand proposition veracity.

The impact of other’s opinions is huge. They know a brand, they consider it, but they will always go online to look for the product and get the right answers to conform their opinion. Most people don’t browse the brand website (except they’re on site with their smartphone), nor their social networks, and if they do, they do not give them much relevance. They mostly go for opinions in trusted sites (from retailers such as Amazon or Tripadvisor), blogs and forums, or YouTube when they want to see the product experience.

Employees matter. In those categories where there is a person in the process, it plays a very influential recommendation role, if he or she is well trained. When comparing different retailers, we do see important differences, that can only be explained by the different levels of training and consumer orientation.

Offers and promotions will affect decision, within a choice set. If the brand is not in the choice set, offers will hardly make it get in the circle. If you’re entering the category, leverage on other values.

Working on occasions is a good way to foster trial. Working from the consumer to the product will show how to tackle this occasions, quantifying and twisting your communication towards them, choosing your channels accordingly.

But focus on very specific consumption occasions in the long run will limit growth. Most consumers see a barrier of purchase the fact that the product is not for the occasion, and sometimes it could be with the appropriate change of perspective.

Mobile is everywhere. When asking friends and relatives for opinions, or checking for prices. In fact, a recent study we ran for Geometry Global says 60% of consumers use their mobile device when visiting a physical store looking for prices or additional information.

Ok, good enough. Let’s go back to Shopper Marketing. Just review the seven behaviors and find where typical Trade Marketing, sorry, Shopper Marketing department will make an impact………. yes you’re right, in the point of sales. And the rest? Most of the influences are occurring outside the store. It’s amazing to see how Shopper Marketing is gathering very powerful consumer/shopper insights (business oriented) covering a myriad of touch points which responsibles are dispersed in different departments. Maybe it’s time of a little bit of consumer centricity, don’t you think?

Shopper marketing is not enough, or then everything should be shopper marketing, an elephant in the room is just an elephant, it’s your consumer, and everybody in the company should see it the same way. Who will bell the cat (or the elephant)?

This post was originally posted here.