Mike Anthony @ engage consultants

Mike Anthony on Shopper Marketing

Not everything has to have a digital component – putting the marketing into shopper marketing

with 6 comments

Digital really is exciting. It is! Its potential is enormous. Digital has the power to achieve things that in the past marketers could only dream of. Reach, connect, and really engage in a meaningful way with your target market? Check! The ability to really measure the impact of marketing efforts, to be able to track a consumer or a shopper as they dance from platform to platform to see whether one piece of activity finally concludes in a sale? Check!

But the real power of digital lies in the fact that it creates an enormous power to target. Whether marketing to consumers or shoppers, a refined target lies at the heart of all quality marketing.

Targeting means being selective. Relationships are about connection. Special relationships by definition have to be exclusive to some degree, not “for everyone” or at least the need to give that impression.

Today I read this article. The headline reads “In-store signage fails to encourage email, SMS engagement.” Nice headline (well, it made me click through!). But the statement it makes is not quite true. The article itself doesn’t talk much about engagement. It’s main point is that only 18% of in-store signage has a web call-to-action and “just eight percent (of cases) use…(in-store signage)… to promote email or test message engagement” .

It wasn’t just the fact that the headline was a little misleading that caused me to write this post.  What really got me was the implication that these numbers were somehow bad, and through the use of the word “just”, that the numbers should be much bigger.

Is eight percent good or bad? The article seems to suggest that all in-store signage should have a digital call to action.


Surely at the heart of good marketing is effective targeting – so why would that be different for shopper marketing? In-store media are merely “channels”- different media to deliver different messages to different people. Suggesting that the same message should be blanketed across every in-store media is akin to suggesting that any brand message should be plastered indiscriminately across every media channel. Or that every brand should use every channel. If a brand manager suggested that they should spread their communication message across every possible media and channel I’d hope that their tenure in the role would be cut short.

I’m not saying 8% is ok – at the same time I’m not saying it’s not. Likewise I’m not ducking the point that there may be great inconsistencies here in the way that the communication is being managed.  But the idea that every piece of communication should have every single social media possibility flagged on it is plain stupid, and bad marketing. 

Marketers should treat in-store communication as they would any other communication. Shopper marketers (with the emphasis on the second word) should focus on these key questions:

  • Who is the target shopper?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • What is the message that is most likely to encourage that behavior?
  • Where can I most effectively communicate with them?
  • What is the most effective media to achieve that change in behavior, with that group of shoppers, at that place and time?

Shopper marketing is marketing to shoppers. Let’s not leave our marketing skills at the door to the store. 

Digital is marketing, not wallpaper. If it is applied with precision, where relevant, it can work wonders. But if it is slapped on everything it will become like wallpaper or elevator music, and nobody will notice it.


Written by Mike Anthony

June 27, 2012 at 5:00 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Hi Mike. Enjoy your comments mate… agree with you too, just wanted to share my thoughts. The seduction and temptation towards use of digital marketing is obvious, with the ability to deliver more messages at all stages of the purchase funnel, and agree with you that digital for digital sake smack of repetition and ineffectiveness. In marketing to a shopper, it’s key to understand the types of behaviours and dilemmas faced by shoppers in that zone, and deliver solutions in a way that promotes a desired brand image. For example, a new product in a DIY outlet promoting “easy to install” by using on-line video sites accessed on a mobile platform showing “how-to” as a reason to believe at shelf. Many other examples of activities are possible. But does it need to be digital? To me it’s still the understanding of and effectiveness of reducing barriers to purchase, and getting your brand to stand out. If digital content and media is targeted as an effective means to do so – given the real background work on understanding shopper behaviour – then so be it.

    Aaron Ross

    June 28, 2012 at 11:12 am

    • Hi Aaron,

      Thanks very much for reading and commenting – and so true!

      Digital is exciting and that creates part of the “rush” – it is also potentially quite cheap in many ways so gets plastered all over everything as cost is not so much of a barrier. Traditional media had to be targeted because there was pressure to be effective AND efficient – you couldn’t afford to be everywhere so why even try. Slapping a Facebook logo on everything is easy – so marketers are encouraged to be lazy.

      But the same message everywhere is not effective – it confuses and detracts from the pertinent messages, and also numbs observers. If there is a digital message everywhere I may not notice it when it really matters.

      Most definitely a case of less is more. If digital is the best way to get the right message across to the target market in that situation – great – but its unlikely to always be so!

      Thanks again!


      Mike Anthony

      June 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

  2. Hi Mike,

    Great read, however I found that your article seems to connote that Shopper Marketing is all about in store communication. There can be nothing farther from that. The store is just one stage of the shopper journey, and in some instances completely circumvented. Messaging is also only one part of Shopper Marketing, there are a huge number of other equally important aspects that drive shopper experience & engagement.

    Digital is also not about just targeting messages in the physical store, its about how you engage and provide meaningful inputs to the shopper at every step of the path to purchase – be it via digital or traditional media.

    Amar (a Brand Manager!)


    July 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    • Hi Amar,

      Thanks for your comments and taking the time to read.

      You’ve forced me to retreads blog to check how you got the impression I think shopper marketing is only for in-store – nothing could be further from the truth! I’ve long been a proponent of the opposite view – check out some of my other blog posts, for example

      I am also very clear that there is more to shopper marketing than messaging and that digital is more than sending messages in store

      My point was merely that there appears to be a trend, highlighted by the article I linked to, that everything needs to have a digital component. My references to targeting go way beyond communication – all marketing should be effectively targeted an that includes marketingn to shoppers. Sometimes I rea articles which talk about “the shopper” as I’d they are all the same – nothin could be further from the truth.

      I hope that clarifies my position – seems like we are broadly in agreement.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write – I hope tou’ll keep reading future posts, and check out the one suggested above.

      All the best

      Mike Anthony

      July 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      • Thanks Mike for clarifying. Yep that’s right, I think the blog you were writing about may have caused that impression. Broadly agree with what you are saying!



        July 5, 2012 at 11:05 am

  3. […] doesn’t mean the same as “66% of shopping decisions are made with a smartphone”. As argued in “Digital” , the average shopper makes hundreds of shopping decisions in a month, so all this quote states is […]

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