Modern marketing was formally born in the 30s in the United States when manufacturers moved from a production strategy (the famous quote by Henry Ford: “The customer can choose the color of his car, as long as it is black”) to a sales and marketing strategy in which the goal is to meet the consumer’s expectations in terms of product availability and characteristics.
In 1960, Jerome McCarthy, an American university professor, defined the famous 4Ps that make up the marketing mix:
- Product: what do we sell? What is the benefit for the consumer?
- Place: where the product is made available to the consumer
- Price: the amount of money the consumer pays to access the product
- Promotion: in general, all the techniques aimed at making the product known and stimulating the act of purchase.
Over the years and with the concentration and specialization of modern distribution the concept of customer marketing or trade marketing has emerged. Its purpose is simply to adapt the value proposition of the marketing mix to a particular distribution channel or retailer.
Trade Marketing considers the needs and specificities of a brand, for example in terms of:
- Product format: we do not sell the same format in a convenience store or hypermarket
- Shelf ready packaging: to facilitate shelving
- Differentiated prices according to the positioning of the distributor
- Adaptation of promotions to the distributor’s strategy
- Up to exclusive products or brands
This obviously represents an important development of the collaboration between distributors and manufacturers that goes far beyond commercial negotiation. This supplier/retailer strategic alignment lays the foundations for category management the objective of which is a shared management of the mix aimed at meeting customer expectations in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.
This is where we come to the important distinction between shopper and consumer: who consumes is not necessarily who buys the product, and it is important to meet the expectations of both.
This is very clear, for example, in the case of a children’s product for which the buyer (father, mother, family) will have expectations of availability, price, quality, origin, recipe, etc. which are obviously totally foreign to the end user of the product.
Shopper marketing studies the act of purchase from the choice of the distribution channel to the payment. It is possible to get insights about shopper behavior thanks to ad hoc studies at the point of sale, understanding the shopper journey or defining the shopping trip. It is not the same to buy a bottle of wine on the way to a dinner with friends and to choose wine to set up a personal cellar. The shopper is varied, and the shopping opportunities are multiple. Adapting the marketing mix to everyone of them is the challenge of shopper marketing.
Marketing in general and shopper marketing in particular are now facing accelerated growth in online sales, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adapting the mix to the potentials, but also to the limits, of telecommerce is certainly the new frontier of marketing.
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