Shopper Marketing

What is shopper marketing?

Until the 90s the consumer was king in the science of marketing. From the 2000s the concept of shopper marketing starts appearing in complement and introduces the distinction between consumer and shopper. Indeed, who consumes or is the beneficiary of the product is not necessarily who buys it and it is important to meet the expectations of one as well as the other.

That is very clear for example in the case of a children’s product for which the purchaser (father, mother, family) will have expectations of availability, price, quality, origin, recipe etc. that are obviously totally alien to the end user of the product.

Shopper marketing is dedicated to studying the performance of the act of purchase from the forecast (or not) of the shopping trip and the choice of the purchase channel to the payment. The shopper is varied as are the occasions of purchases. Adapting the marketing mix to each and every one is the challenge of shopper marketing.

Some of the basic questions of shopper marketing are:

  • Who buys? identity of the shopper, age, gender, socio-professional category etc.
  • Where? On which channel? Reason of this choice?
  • When? is the purchase planned or an impulse one? Is it a weekend or convenience shopping trip?
  • For what? Special occasion or pantry fill-up?
  • For whom? Is the shopper the consumer or does he buy for third parties?
  • With what vision of the category? What is the shopper’s purchase decision process and his approximation of the category (decision tree)?
  • How? How long does it take to choose the suitable reference? Are several products handled or not?
  • With what? What are the complementary/peripheral products of the purchase?
  • At what price? Price elasticity
  • Importance of promotions?
  • With what level of involvement? It is not the same to buy kitchen paper or a beauty cream
  • With what satisfaction? Are expectations met? Exceeded? How about shopper experience and purchase repetition?

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but it gives a good idea of the field of action of shopper marketing. For a manufacturer it implies an important (and often new) level of collaboration with the distributor since it centers on the point of sale and act of purchase. Shopper marketing is thus the basis of the category management process.

One can study shopper behavior and generate insights through ad-hoc studies at the point of sale, but also information obtained through the distributors’ loyalty cards or sell-out data.  A simple way of those who are interested in understanding the purchase process of a category is also to observe and be regularly present in store. More than ever, facing the reality of the field is key for shopper marketeers.

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