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The Most Important Trait In A Shopper Marketer? Consistency

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“Puppies are not for Christmas, they are for life… “

An old adage, but one that springs to mind when I think about shopper marketing. Shopper marketers have many opportunities to create exciting campaigns; but it isn’t the big, dazzling ‘one-offs’ that best represent the relationship between a brand and a shopper. The shopper-brand relationship isn’t a steamy “one night stand” – it’s more akin to an old married couple who are comfortable with each other. Shopper marketers need to ensure that they are up to serving their target market week in, week out.

The shopper-brand relationship is one built up from many tiny interactions, and the most important part of that relationship? Shoppers don’t always want to be excited, thrilled, or even engaged. What they really want, is not to be let down. And unfortunately marketers, customer managers, and retailers conspire to let down shoppers on a weekly basis. We forget, as we plan our campaigns, that it is what happens, day in day out, on the home shelf that really matters. As shopper marketers, we must be prepared to manage the minutiae of every day shopping, as that is what serves our target market best.

Good execution is only great if it’s consistent

Good Execution & Bad Execution

Good Execution & Bad Execution

A while back I blogged about a lovely in-store execution by Schwartz – the herbs and spice people. I loved this execution because it seemed to me to go to the heart of what shopper marketing is: a smart marketing mix designed to change shopping behavior in a way that also drives incremental consumption. That was then. Recently I returned to the aisles of Sainsbury, that same retailer, and was confronted with this: badly managed, badly maintained, and just plain awful. How many shopper impressions did this create? I suspect that this creates more ‘standout’ on shelf than the original execution – creating plenty of awareness but perhaps not the engagement or brand impact that was designed. Not sure what had happened, but somebody (or many people) had taken their eye off the ball.

Shoppers hit the shelves every week, and that means that what we present to them every week is critical.

What can we do to improve the chances of our shoppers not being let down when they get there?

Availability rules

The most important thing to a shopper is to be able to buy what they want to buy, when they want to buy it. Every campaign, every shelf layout, every promotion, must have availability metrics and checks built into it. If there is a chance that your activity may have an adverse effect on availability, then this needs to be planned for, or the activity should be dropped.

Go to stores

I’ve said it many times, but there really is no excuse for not spending time in-stores and seeing what shoppers see. You can never spend too much time in stores.

Invest in compliance checking.

If the activity is worth doing, it’s worth making sure it is done properly. If you don’t know what it is that confronts shoppers then it’s impossible to understand what is going on.  Technology is bringing down the costs of compliance tracking all the time – consider what efforts you can make to ensure that what you envisaged and what shoppers actually see are actually the same thing.

Partner with retailers

Spending time in every store, every week isn’t going to be practical, and extensive compliance tracking is still going to be beyond the reach of many brands. But the retailer has people in the store every day of every week – and this execution has just as much negative impact on the retailer as it does on the brand in terms of image and shopper satisfaction. Engaging with retailers to ensure that the shoppers you share are served well should be part of your agenda.

Cut back on promotions

Promotions are the enemy of availability. They make forecasting harder, and they often create secondary stock points at retail making it harder to ascertain the actual stock at any one point. On store visits we regularly see that the majority of out of stocks are on promoted items.

Maintain and sustain

If there is a permanent installation (as with Schwartz) then it needs funds and people to audit, maintain and sustain it. If that isn’t built into your budget, then the activity should be culled.

Clean up after yourself

For temporary installations, then there needs to be a plan to clean up. If you can’t afford to maintain a display properly, then take it down. Plan to put things back where they were. Tidy up. Don’t disappoint those shoppers you’ve just wooed.

Our goal as marketers is to build, sustain and maintain long relationships with our target shoppers and consumers. If we are to make that happen, we need to be consistent and deliver what we promise day in and day out. If we can’t do that, we really don’t deserve them in the first place, do we?

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Written by Mike Anthony

June 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Shopper Marketing IS Sexy

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Shopper Marketing IS SexyThose of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I’m a passionate supporter of the shopper marketing cause, so you can imagine my discomfort when I read a recent article in Adweek which, in its opening line, suggested that shopper marketing wasn’t “sexy”. I will confess it riled me a little and then it got me thinking. Is it that shopper marketing simply isn’t sexy, or is it more that shopper marketing has a bit of an image problem?

Can shopper marketing be sexy?

On one level it depends on what you mean by sexy, and it depends on what your benchmark is. True, there are many parts of the shopper marketing world that are far from sexy: crunching data, lots of cardboard in stores; but couldn’t that be said of most marketing jobs? Advertising shoots in the Caribbean are sexy; eighteen hour shifts in a digital studio signing off the final copy is, in my humble opinion, far from sexy.

And how about the work that Tesco have done in Korea? Creating a virtual online store in subway stations (and a cool video to promote it) – that’s pretty sexy. And Old Spice, with their fabulous “Smell Like a Man” campaign: that’s TV and YouTube viral marketing all rolled into one, and most certainly targeted at the shopper. What’s not sexy about that? It seems to me that, as in any marketing world, shopper marketing has its share of drudgery and drear, but also has its share of pizazz and glamour too.

Shopper Marketing has an image problem

So if shopper marketing is as sexy as any other type of marketing, then perhaps it has an image problem. Perhaps shopper marketing needs a makeover. And to be honest, if you were the brand manager for shopper marketing, you’d probably be polishing your resume now, as you are about to be fired.

Whilst shopper marketing has done a fabulous job on driving awareness, brand comprehension is still poor. Many practitioners still muddle up the consumer and the shopper (link to “when the shopper is not the consumer blog) Using the Adweek article as an example (and sadly an all too typical one) it is clear to see that there is little understanding of what shopper marketing is. The author is suffering from a very common misconception – that shopper marketing and retail marketing are the same thing. They are not, and perhaps it is this which leads the author to believe it isn’t sexy (I’ll leave it to someone else to defend retail marketing!). The Old Spice example above demonstrates clearly that shopper marketing is far more than the rather limited sphere of ‘what happens in stores’. The author gets confused about what shopper marketing is, misquoting Alan Lafley from P&G with his “First Moment of Truth”. For the record Mr. Lafley was talking about the point of purchase, not shopper marketing: in his original quote Mr. Lafley didn’t even refer to shoppers: he talked about the ‘consumer in the store’ – about as far away from shopper marketing as you can get!

Why do I care about this? Why should you care?

In a recent survey conducted in conjunction by engage  with Nielsen (to be published shortly, and you can hear about it here first), industry leaders are bemoaning a lack of shopper marketing skills, and shopper marketing talent. I’m convinced that shopper marketing’s image problem contributes to this. How can shopper marketing attract the best of the best: really good people who really know how to market: when people who are writing about it really miss the point?

Shopper marketing is as sexy as any other marketing. Shopper marketing is not just about in-store; not just about the final point of purchase. Shopper marketing is about understanding and meeting the needs of shoppers: it is about developing a marketing mix which changes shopping behavior in a way that drives future consumption of your brand. Shopper marketing is an integral part of the Total Marketing Mix that makes the difference between your brand succeeding or failing in this world.

How sexy is that?!

Written by Mike Anthony

June 6, 2013 at 9:40 am

Posted in Shopper Marketing

How To Stop Your Brand From Suffering As Retail Moves Online


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 Mike Anthony on Shopper Marketing How To Stop Your Brand From Suffering As Retail Moves Online
Online is changing the way people shop. Grocery in total may, so far, be less affected, with online retail share of sales still 5% or below in most markets.  But parts of the CPG industry are changing rapidly. In China almost 19% of skin care products are now sold online according to Euromonitor. Make no mistake – this change represents a seismic shift in the retail landscape, and that means there are going to be winners and losers. How ready for online are you? And I don’t mean whether you have your Facebook page up and running; or whether you have a social strategy in place: I mean are you ready to avoid the collateral damage from a retail Armageddon – and are your sales and marketing teams ready to capitalize on the massive opportunities that will come about?

Many of the big retailers have been slow to adopt online models – and who could blame them? Online has huge economic impact for them: a model where shoppers come to the store and collect products is a lot cheaper than one where the retailer has to deliver to each house (hence the experiments with models such as ‘click and collect’ where orders are placed online but goods are picked up at stores). Retailers are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place: online raises costs, but without it, there is a grave danger of losing share.

Those stores which used to be big retail’s biggest source of competitive advantage now run the risk of being the proverbial albatross around their necks. How much traffic needs to be lost before a store becomes unprofitable? 5%? 10%? With lean retail margins it can’t be much more, surely?

Make no mistake, online will rapidly begin to affect the behavior of retailers, and that means that manufacturers will need to adapt, and adapt quickly. Here are some of the key implications for brand manufacturers of online retail.

Multiple channels become the norm: channel teams become a necessity

The days when retailers largely operated one outlet type are long gone: online will just bring this into sharper relief. Manufacturers will need to think channel as well as retailer, and really understand how shopping behavior varies across channels, and how channels are used by different shoppers. Manufacturer plans will need to be truly omni-channel; not just separate plans for each channel, but also showing how channels connect and integrate on a path to purchase.

Price comparison becomes more of an obsession – putting pressure on margins

I’d love to say otherwise: I’d love to say that retailers will work out that they can’t win the price game and so will try something new. But unfortunately past performance suggests that the response of retailers under pressure is one dimensional – it’s price, and you, dear manufacturer (dear “partner”, of course!) will be asked to foot the bill. More promotions, more displays, more mailers. And some canny retailers will ask you to pay twice: once for the offline activity, and then again for the online version. Does your trade terms strategy cover this?

Online requires a different shopper marketing mix

The shopper marketing mix in the online space is still all about influencing shopper behaviors using a blend of availability, communication and offer: but it requires a different approach to that used offline. Range and merchandising become pages and search, and the opportunity to target offers becomes much greater. A review of most grocery stores’ online offer suggests that not many have really worked out how to excel in this: a brand who really knows how to lead the online shopper marketing mix could make significant gains. One that leaves their page position or ranking to chance may have lots to lose. And big brands may suffer the most. Brands who have fought to have a larger share of space based on their sales, may, if not careful, find themselves with exactly the same amount of space as everyone else on a web page.

Retailers will come, retailers will go

Seismic shifts will take place in the retail environment. In the last year we’ve seen Tesco and Carrefour retreat from markets; we’ve seen new online offers from major retailers, and online only businesses pop up everywhere. Assuming that your current key customers will be key in the future is dangerous. Prioritizing based only on size is no longer enough. Manufacturers need to manage risk, ensure their trade terms are defensible, and work hard to spot the new channels and customers who could drive growth in the future.

Even if online share in your category is still small that doesn’t mean you can afford to be complacent. Even if your category isn’t directly affected in the next ten years, your retail customers will be. They are losing sales somewhere, and they need to make up for it somehow. The development of a retail strategy which addresses the impact of online on your total business is now mandatory. That strategy must define which investments, in which customers (new, existing, online and offline) are required. This must be based on an understanding of which consumer opportunities the business is targeting; which shoppers are important to the realization of those opportunities, how those shoppers use online and offline channels and what online shopper marketing mix is required to influence those shoppers.

Contact me to help prepare your company, and to ensure your business is collateral-damage proof!

 

Image via Flickr

Written by Mike Anthony

May 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm

How in-store marketing affects brand equity 


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My last post focused on poor in-store execution and how much it was costing the industry. But what about the activity that is activated exactly as planned? Even when things are executed perfectly, do activities always deliver the highest value to our brands? I’ve seen plenty of evidence that many well-executed in-store activities don’t deliver any return on investment, and I’ve also seen plenty of evidence that some in-store activities, done in the name of shopper marketing, can have a negative impact on long term brand value too.

Before the discussion of why this happens and what to do about it, let’s take a quick tour some recent in-store horrors I have witnessed.

Olay Staircase AdsOlay – a brand to…. Kick in the face?

Here, on the staircase of an upmarket supermarket in Taiwan, even the mighty P&G makes mistakes. In an execution that probably looked great on the concept board, the Olay brand is scuffed and kicked by every passing shopper, looking a mess within days of installation. It may or may not have driven short term sales, but not what I’d want to do with a beauty brand if I were brand manager.

Barbie Cheap Ads

Barbie – you look… so cheap!

In Singapore Barbie is one of the more expensive dolls; yet here with laminated A4 sheets of paper announcing deals – concealing half of the product – you’d be hard pushed to tell. And where is this? In Toys R Us, the biggest toy retailer in Asia. (and as for executional excellence – the monitor isn’t working!)

Dove Wire BasketDove – Real Beauty – Really?

In the shadow of a billboard shouting out about a woman’s ‘real beauty’ I found this. Opening onto the sidewalk outside a chain drugstore in Tokyo, here is ‘real beauty’. In a wire basket, with a hand written discount card. And, I’m pretty sure, that the sales guys actually paid for this execution.

How do such terrible things happen to brands? Sometimes, short termism kicks in and there is a grab for short term sales. Sometimes the person who is executing this gets carried away and focuses solely on what the store will allow, without thinking about what it says about the brand. And sometimes the individual responsible for implementation is simply unaware of the impact of what they do on long term brand health. Yet these in-store executions often create far more impressions than our carefully crafted consumer communication.

Building brand equity may not be possible in every situation, but we can do our best to align, and make sure that execution doesn’t destroy hard (and expensively) won image. As in-store plans are developed, ask yourself these key questions:

How to stay true to your brand in-store

Does this support my brand equity (and do I even know what it is)? – What could be done to this execution that would make it more in line with the brand? It’s not always about building a brand in the store, but let’s make sure we’re at least supporting what we’re trying to say.

Does the brand have guidelines that must be adhered to? – In the Brand Diamond and Brand Pyramid Models which we use at engage to develop brands for clients, there is a clear statement of brand constraints: things the brand would never do, places the brand would never go. As you plan your activity, check that brand constraints are being honored. And if your brand model doesn’t describe brand constraints – perhaps it should!

How much of this is about what the retailer wants, and how much is about what is right for the brand? – Whilst we clearly need retail support, and alignment is a great, the retailer’s needs and constraints should not be the starting point. What is good for the brand should be the start; from there compromises can be charted, and blocked or mitigated where appropriate.

It’s not all about short term sales – We all know the pressure to hit the short term numbers; I’ve been there myself too often. But unless we can honestly say the impact of the activity on brand equity is at least neutral in the long term (it doesn’t have to be perfect), and that we’ve considered all practical alternatives, then we really aren’t trying hard enough.

Shoppers see our brands in stores every day. Poor compliance prevents our carefully crafted activities having the impact that they should. And a lack of strategic thought creates activities which needlessly damage our brands. Everything we do communicates. Everything sends a message. A brand manager who doesn’t take accountability for the entire brand is arguably not managing that brand. Her remit does not stop at the door to the store. More than ever there is a need for a Total Marketing solution, which ensures that brand guardianship covers everything we do. If you think your brand needs a Total Marketing approach, then drop me a line and let’s talk.

Written by Mike Anthony

May 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm

What Is The Difference Between Shoppers And Consumers? Love.

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What Is The Difference Between Shoppers And Consumers? Love.I’m often asked why we need shopper marketing (thankfully less now than before). There are many possible answers – but here is one: Shopper marketing exists because shoppers and consumers have fundamentally different relationships with brands.

There are some brands I really love. Not many, but some are truly awesome. But let’s explore that love When do I love these brands? Where do I love them? I love them when I’m consuming. I love them at the point of consumption (or at the point of anticipation of consumption). I love my minty shower gel when it zings me in the morning in the shower. I don’t give it a second thought for the rest of the day. At that precise moment, it is awesome. Ten minutes later I’ve “dumped” it for that Illy coffee which is hitting the spot at the breakfast table.

Marketers – Consumers are promiscuous. I don’t mean within a category necessarily, but my love lasts for a few precious moments of consumption, and then I’m off professing my love for the next brand. Our relationship may be long lasting, but the periods of intensity that you, my dear brand, are in the zone with me, are fleeting.

This is especially true when I’m shopping. Most brands fail to create that quality of relationship with shoppers. Apple may be able to recreate it in their stores, but they are the exception. Out there in the store the shopper may not even be the consumer.  But even if I’m the end consumer, I’m now in shopping mode, not loving mode…. And that makes me a completely different target.

Here on the shelf the brand I love is just another product, and it’s hard for marketers to conjure up that “consumer-love” that exists at the point of consumption. In the store brand relationships are diluted by all of the other stuff that is going on: the noise, the deals, and all the other elements of my shopping mission of which your brand is only a small contributor: my budget, my time, the check-out queue, the other things I need to buy today. At this point, as a shopper, I am so far removed from the intimacy of the consumption moment –  it is hard to believe that marketers believe that what works for me as a consumer would also work for me as a shopper. Often I buy the same brand often not because I love it, but because I habitually do – it’s easier that way, and no other brand is offering enough of a reason for me to switch.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, dear brand. Whilst the in-store environment may never be quite as intimate and close as those consumption occasions we share, there are things you can do to woo me in the store.

What can brands do to create love in the store?

  • Be realistic. Not everyone loves your brand. And those that do probably feel that love in or around the moment of consumption – only at that point of relevance.
  • Rekindle the romance. Can the magic be conjured up in-store? Is it possible to remind the shopper, there in the store, of just how special that consumption moment is? And, no, I don’t mean playing your commercial on in-store TV – but what cues can be delivered to rekindle the romance? It might be difficult to build significant brand value in a store, but reminding shoppers of values that already exist is often eminently possible.
  • Check if the consumer is the shopper. If they are not, then that consumer love is even harder to work with. The shopper almost certainly has little love for your brand. Live with it.
  • Recognize habits – don’t disrupt them. If your brand relies on shopper habits, then please let’s not disrupt those habits. Execution focus must be on availability, and almost certainly on the home shelf. Take care with promotions, or any activity which makes it harder to maintain availability. The last thing we want to do is to force shoppers to change their habits.
  • Add value to the shopper. Consider if there is anything that can be done to add value to the shopper (and I don’t mean a coupon!). What would make their life easier as a shopper? Easier to carry? Easier to shop? Easier to find? Choice of sizes? By understanding the shopper’s value points as distinct from the consumers, we may be able to find something to build just a little ‘shopper-love’.

Understanding brands as they work across consumers and shoppers requires a paradigm shift. Successful brands require a Total Marketing mix which recognizes that the target market is a consumer AND a shopper. By understanding the difference between the brand relationship at the point of consumption, and that at the point of purchase, our plans in both areas can be much more effective. If you want to know more about how shoppers differ from consumers, and why this is important for consumer goods marketers and managers, you can download a free chapter of my new book here . Do let me know what you think.

Image: Flickr

Written by Mike Anthony

May 8, 2013 at 8:30 am

The Most Dangerous Number In (Shopper) Marketing

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danger76%.

As in  “76% of purchase decisions are made in-store”. At first glance it might feel almost comforting, its been around for so long. How dangerous could it possibly be? Well that depends on if it is true, and if it is true for you. The answer to the first is, “probably not”, and to the second ‘definitely not’.

Why is it dangerous? Because it is this number that legitimizes (for some) the extravagance of in-store spending. In-store marketing budgets continue to rise both in real terms and as a percentage of total spend – but if that is where most purchase decisions are made, then surely this is OK?

This perhaps is why this number, which seems to contradict virtually every piece of common sense around, is so pervasive and sticky. People want to believe it.

Marketers faced with fragmented media, finding it harder to connect with a mass market, love the idea of being able to grab that mass market at one spot. Businesses faced with increasingly demanding retailers, feel legitimized. “This isn’t capitulation, this is smart marketing! This is investment”.

And so it would be, if the statistic were true.

But what if the number of purchase decisions made in-store, for your business, is much much less?

We’ve studied lots of categories and very few get anywhere close to a 76% in-store decision rate. In one category (kid’s milk), the in-store decision rate was below 5%.

But I’d rather not dispute this number, because actually that misses the main point – the main danger if you will. Even if the number were true, it wouldn’t be true for your brand, your category, all of the time. Making decisions based on an average statistic (whether or not it is true) is dangerous. Most situations are not ‘average’ The challenge of marketing, and of shopper marketing, is to be far more specific.

In-store decision rates vary by category

As I’ve stated above, we’ve seen huge variance from category to category. Some categories are clearly more impulsive in nature, some more planned. If you work in snacks, then you may find many more shoppers making decisions in aisles, than if you market toothpaste, perhaps.

In-store decision rates vary by channel

Whatever the average for your category, the number will vary wildly by channel. We’ve worked in categories where one channel represented a minority of purchases but a majority of in-store decisions: people actually went to this channel when they went sure what to buy. This often occurs where in-store personnel are important to the decision making process (think pharmacy or drugstore). The biggest influence on this though is…

In-store decision rates vary by shopper mission

In a recent study Bell, Corsten and Knox found that major weekly shops had a much higher incidence of unplanned buying than other trips. We all know from our own experiences as shoppers that there are times when we are highly planned, and times when we are very much in browsing mode. Different missions equals different shopping behavior, which means that the number of decisions made in-store varies.

In-store decision rates vary by availability

In some studies we’ve seen, of the biggest causes of switching, is out of stocks. From in-store checks we’ve found that up to 92% of out-of-stocks are on promoted lines: so promotions cause (or at least contribute to) out of stocks. But promotions are done (sometimes) because we believe that people switch brands in store and so we need to influence shoppers. But many of them switch brands because there is an out-of-stock. Anyone getting dizzy yet?

In-store decision rates vary by shopper

Most important is to remember that as marketers we’re not interested in ‘the average shopper’. We’re interested in a specific target shopper, and therefore we must strive to understand how they make decisions, where they make decisions, and how those decisions are influenced. The 76% number is simply an irrelevance. All that matters is how (and where) our target shopper makes choices.

Deal seekers switch

And a last thought – who are these shoppers who switch in-store? In many categories, they are what we call deal seekers: they come to a store with an open mind, and will buy whatever is on deal. They may buy your brand this week, but they’ll switch next time as soon as your competitor is on deal. They may be making decisions in-store, but do we want to spend our marketing money against them?

I’m not trying to pick a fight with POPAI. I’m sure they have solid data to back up their claim. My problem doesn’t lie there. My problem is with the pervasiveness of it: how many ‘experts’ swallow it, and how that leads many marketers astray.

Whether you are a brand manager, shopper marketer, category manager or key account manager – the number is almost certainly wrong for you. Before you spend another dime, go find out where decisions are made by the shoppers you are interested in. 

Image: Flickr

Written by Mike Anthony

April 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

When The Shopper Isn’t The Consumer

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When shopper marketing first became a ‘buzz’ there were lots of people using the term consumer when they really meant shopper, and I would politely, but firmly point out the difference. After many years of beating this drum, I’d have hoped by now that the point about the shopper not being the consumer would, by now be well made, and now be part of common practice.

Apparently not. Whilst a couple of years ago now, in  2011, Joe Tripodi, CMO of Coca Cola: “Shopper marketing is simply a detailed understanding, culled through insights of how consumers make choices, and what they respond to”. Today on their website, Nielsen understand that their panels track shopping behavior, but they call it a ‘consumer panel’ . Whilst Wikipedia isn’t necessarily the most reliable authority, their definition of Shopper Marketing (understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers…) is quoted by, amongst others, the Canadian Marketers Association and the Institute of Promotional Marketing. A google search for ‘Consumer in the store” reveals a glut of agencies who purport to be shopper marketing experts, yet still apparently haven’t got this simple distinction. It appears my 2013  prediction will almost certainly not come true

No. Shopper Marketing is not about understanding how consumers make choices. It is about understanding how shoppers make choices, and then creating a marketing mix (that’ll be a shopper marketing mix) which affects the desired changes in their behavior. Is this semantics? Far from it. Let’s explore why.

The Shopper Is Not Always The Consumer.

In every category we’ve studied, some of the people buying are not buying for themselves. Every category (and we’ve studied a lot). In many categories (toys for example) the number of shoppers who are not consumers is very high. In some markets almost half of male personal care products are bought by women. Whilst researching our upcoming book (Click here for an introductory chapter), I spoke to Hans Hallen, of Carlsberg, and in the beer category, whilst the majority of beer in the home is drunk by men, decisions about stocking up are often made by, you guessed it, women. Even in an intimate and highly personal category such as feminine hygiene, there are a small number of people buying for others (mothers and embarrassed husbands, typically). In every category the story is the same. Some shoppers are not consumers.

So what you might ask? Well… Surely as a target, someone who uses your brand must be different to someone who does not. Their experience of your brand is fundamentally different, and therefore the approach you make must be varied.

Different activities might be required

If the shopper isn’t the consumer, some of that expensive shopper marketing efforts may have a limited impact. If you want to market a new beverage in a store, then wet sampling is a great technique – get people to actually try the product there and then, and assuming its great they can buy it. But amongst shoppers who are not consumers, this tactic will be less effective. As will product consultants, who typically talk a consumer story. As a shopper I might quite like the look of a new product, but if I’m not the consumer it isn’t necessarily so that I have permission to switch to a different brand. Communication messages that are ‘consumer targeted’ can’t be directly delivered. Let’s go back to sanitary towels. How many guys here would be brave enough to go back home with a different brand because “the lady in the store recommended it” Thought not!

All of the above we know to be intrinsically true. But whilst CMOs and authorities such as Wikipedia, indulge in this lazy approximation, marketing effectiveness and efficiency will not be optimized. What happens to the money that is targeted against the “consumer in the store” but hits the “shopper who isn’t the consumer”? It is much more likely to be wasted.

No. Consumers are not the same as shoppers. They are not. Moms buy for kids. Daughters buy for granny. Husbands buy for wives. Consumer does not equal shopper. A consumer choice is different to a shopper choice. So what should a shopper marketer do about it?

Insist on accuracy

Risk being called a pedant. Insist that the word ‘Shopper” is used when talking about purchase. Politely correct the guys from the agency when they talk about consumer decisions in an in-store environment. No need for a soapbox – but do insist.

Write to Wikipedia and ask them to sort it out already

I’ve tried. Maybe if a few more people did things might get changed

Check the data

If you have data that suggests all of your consumers buy for themselves, check the sample. Often consumer research deliberately selects people who are purchase decision makers too. This therefore becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and proves nothing.

Check your marketing mix

Based on this, work out whether your activity requires the consumer to be present. If the consumer isn’t present in the store, can a message be sent to the consumer via the shopper (e.g. giving samples to take home rather than in-store sampling: or leaflets versus signage).

Check the mix by channel

Different shoppers will be in different channels. If one channel has lots who are buying for themselves, this might require a different marketing mix versus channels where shoppers are buying for others.

Evaluate differently

I know that many of you don’t have this type of data, but even so, you can build your thinking into the way you evaluate activities. DO certain activities require the consumer to be present? Do these work, or not work, versus activities that do not require the consumer to be in the store? Does the performance of these activities vary by channel? Create some hypotheses around this and test with future activity. Shopper data is great, but the absence of data doesn’t mean there has to be an absence of insight too.

Whilst often the consumer is the same person as the shopper, they are sometimes not. Make sure, as a shopper marketer, you are clear on who you are marketing to, otherwise you risk wasting at least some of your marketing spend.

Written by Mike Anthony

April 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

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