BrainTrust Query: Ten reasons you should care about the shopper

Discussion
Jul 27, 2009
Joel Rubinson

Commentary by Joel
Rubinson
,
chief research officer, The Advertising Research Foundation

For
consumer insights teams, shopper insights research feels foreign; it
requires a different set of approaches and a totally different mindset.
Shopping is about action more than preferences. It’s about the shopping trip
rather than a single product category. Yet, shopper insights are critical
for making shopper marketing work for your brand, enhancing your relationships
with retail customers, and, if you’re an agency, having a complete offer.

Here
are 10 reasons you should care about the shopper.

#1:
Fifty percent or more of product and brand decisions are made in-store;
numerous shopper insights studies agree. What in-store activation will
lead you to win more than your fair share of “jump balls?”

#2:
Shopper marketing offers immediacy and reach and is projected to be
the fastest growing part of the media mix over the next few years.
Wal-Mart and other large retailers offer a bigger audience than prime
time shows.

#3:
What people care about as shoppers is different. As shoppers, people
are in action mode. They are making many decisions taking only seconds
per decision where 99 percent of the products in the store are irrelevant
to the shopper’s mission on a given trip. How can you deliver a highly
shoppable environment under these conditions?

#4:
Shopper marketing gives you unique opportunities to be relevant. Retailers
have different store formats that are geared to serve their local clientele.
How will your brand presentation be customized?

#5:
Product marketers are getting into retail. Apple, Coach, Estee Lauder
have all been successful. Procter just bought specialty retailer chains
and a number of marketers have been using pop-up stores.

#6:
Shopper insights are currency for building strong customer relationships.
Retailers seek manufacturer partners who translate insights about how
people shop into actions that increase traffic, category and aisle
sales. Manufacturers must master shopper insights or will find their
competitors working directly with the merchant to determine their place
on the shelf…if any.

#7:
Advertising agencies must master shopper marketing to have a complete
offering: those who do not offer shopper marketing services will be
viewed as incomplete.

#8:
Shopper insights and consumer insights are different things. Consumer
insights study preferences; shopper insights study how people put preferences
into action. The research tools, questionnaires, and mental models
are all different.

#9:
Studying the path to purchase offers a new approach to media planning.
Where the purchase decision is made (before or after entering the store)
varies by type of product. Knowing this for your type of product is
critical to setting the right marketing mix between shopper marketing
and off-premise brand-building.

#10:
The recession is leading to big changes that are SHOPPER-centered.
How people plan their shopping trips, their increasing purchase of
store brands, retailers de-SKUing all are impacted by economic pressures.

Shopper
marketing is real and the need for shopper insights is acute.

Discussion
Questions: What are some obvious and less obvious reasons studying
the shopper is different from studying the consumer? Why do you think
shopper insights are important? Can you come up with any reasons not
mentioned in the article?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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23 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Ten reasons you should care about the shopper"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Some of today’s “Top Ten List” sounds obvious, some of it reflects more complex understanding of shopper behavior. The underlying point is that shoppers (as opposed to consumers) are already in your store. They are, at the very least, motivated to look at your assortments and become engaged with the elements of your store experience. At the most, shoppers are action-oriented and motivated to buy.

Research into shopper behavior ought to be focused on converting motivation to spending. And every element of the store experience (from merchandise content to signing to checkout speed) ought to be put under a microscope with the goal of successful conversion. In particular, retailers ought to spend more time on the most elemental aspect of the shopping experience: How efficiently does the store take the customer’s money?

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

All 10 of these observations should be well known to any marketer. Knowing what consumers are actually doing when they enter and interact with a store is just as important as communicating brand value prior to the shopping experience. A skilled marketer will target consumers before they shop and while they are in the store.

Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 9 months ago
I believe that shopper insights are part of the continuum that savvy marketers focus on. While consumer insights as per Joel’s definition delve into attitudes and opinions, shopper insights are the next step as the shoppers act (or don’t) upon those attitudes and opinions in the store. In my mind they are both about understanding the consumer who is the shopper. Effective marketing practices take the understanding from consumer insights and explore the relevancy and additional perspectives provided at the store level. My work in shopper insights, using eye tracking and in depth interviewing in the store, has demonstrated that the hierarchy of information and emotional connections which influence sales can take twists and turns in the store. Marketers must be aware of the behavior in the store to anticipate the intersection of thoughts, feelings, labeling, packaging, displays, signage and pricing. One important advantage of shopper insights is that it provides the knowledge to develop tactical strategies that can make all the difference in generating more revenue and creating loyal customers. Another benefit of shopper… Read more »
Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
11 years 9 months ago

That’s a pretty impressive list. But in the end I have to wonder if retailers and agencies have really figured out that beyond all the studies, if people are having a good time and are getting great service, they will stay longer, buy more, and revisit more frequently. Does it really take a lot of shopper research to figure that out?

Judging by the service I get at most retailers, I would say maybe it’s time to put down to books and start taking some positive action.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

I’ll add that shopper marketing has begun to take into consideration an ever-expanding list of out-of-store connection points that influence in-store shopper behavior. The “missions” and “occasions” that now are the focal point for shopper activities in-store are often stoked by influencer recommendations, website research, promotions, ratings and reviews, and going forward, information received on mobile devices. To me, this is the new frontier of shopper marketing and the reason why most retailer websites are now information hubs, not just sales channels.

Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

In our practice of Shopper Marketing, we find it critical to match the deployment of all marketing activities to the actions shoppers are taking along the entire path to purchase (we call it The Shoppers Journe(SM)). Even more critical is to understand not only actions, but emotions along the various stages, and match the messaging to the emotions. Only then do you have an opportunity to change behavior. Just being there along the road doesn’t mean you get noticed or get any engagement with your intended target.

Dave Wendland
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

An addition to the top 10 list would be differentiation between shoppers, end-users and influencers. It is well documented that many decisions are made in the store but to truly identify opportunity at retail, factors that affect that decision need to be considered. It’s also important to note that for different categories/products it is imperative that different approaches and shopper insights be considered.

Alison Chaltas
Guest
Alison Chaltas
11 years 9 months ago

Shopper insights are certainly the rage and so many other panelists have already articulated why. Our industry now gets it that we must understand shoppers and their unique relationship at the point of purchase. So many diverse methodologies can be used to address different business opportunities in store.

It is important to put in-store learning in a broader business context. Understanding the shopper should not come in a vacuum or at the expense of other learning. Conducting shopper research is the easy part. Integrating the learning with consumer, competitive, operational and P&L dynamics into actionable in-store solutions is the holy grail.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
11 years 9 months ago
Put any 3 marketers in a room and you’ll get four definitions for “shopper marketing.” GMA and Deloitte did a very interesting paper on Shopper Marketing (that can be found here), where they defined Shopper Marketing as “…the employment of any marketing stimuli, developed based on a deep understanding of shopper behavior, designed to build brand equity, engage the shopper (i.e., an individual in “shopping mode”), and lead him/her to make a purchase.” Whatever your definition of Shopper Marketing, though, it does offer a unique opportunity to the marketer–specifically, the opportunity to test different tactics empirically. Too often, marketers are forced to rely on focus groups and surveys, which suffer from the fact that people are not particularly good at predicting how they will actually behave when faced with a decision. A far better way to determine shoppers’ likely behavior is to actually test it in the store, and to measure the associated sales impact through loyalty POS data. Want to know which call to action on a coupon triggers more response? Test several and… Read more »
Phil Rubin
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Great top ten list and here’s another (obvious) thing to consider: most marketing dollars, especially those focused on advertising, are essentially spent on everything but shoppers, i.e., acquisition and driving store traffic.

So in this sense, Shopper Marketing can also be thought of as in-store customer/loyalty marketing. Like Shopper Marketing, Customer Marketing in general is woefully misunderstood by most marketers and their traditional agencies.

Last, as marketing needs to show increasing accountability, it’s important to note that there is also a much higher degree of conversion measurability from shopper marketing activities than traditional advertising tactics.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

The biggest issue is retailers are gaining with the sell, not the buy process. This is the same problem many suppliers have in working with retailers. A good example is when retailers started entering the Hispanic market. Many started working as though it was one big market, not the country/culture segments.

Retailers should have an easier time it they just sat back and said how do I make my buying decisions? What is important to me? How did I learn of the product? Then they need to translate that for their target market as this is proof positive supporting the target market approach. I believe listening and learning from customers is one of the reasons some of the industry’s Merchant Princes did so well.

Lisa Bradner
Guest
Lisa Bradner
11 years 9 months ago

Marc, carol and Alison have all touched on this already–to paraphrase Charlton Heston “Shopper insights is PEOPLE!” #3 and #8 on the list start getting there but the truth is as long as we create an artificial distinction between the consumer and the shopper–as if they were two different entities as opposed to the same person in different need states–we’ll miss the opportunities for integration and true understanding.

Even the poll question seems wrong to me because it implies you need to rob one budget to fund the other instead of committing to a holistic understanding of your target customer through all their stages of engagement with your brand.

I say understand the different need states and what interests and motivates people at each need state as well as how they get from one to the other and you’ve got a home run.

Joel Rubinson
Guest
11 years 9 months ago
Howard Moscowitz quotes a Yiddish saying that, “To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish!” Those of us on RetailWire immediately see the logic of these 10 reasons and say, “of course!” Yet, in the poll, no one has chosen what I believe is the answer that describes CURRENT spending on shopper insights, which is less than 10% of the custom research budget. Furthermore, Industry leaders in media planning who meet at the ARF are, for the first time, really starting to see the legitimacy and power of shopper marketing. For example, if you believe in “recency” as a media planning strategy, how could you not be enticed by shopper marketing? However, many in media are starting to connect the dots for the first time. The media world has a bias towards media planning based on media viewing habits. I am trying to get them to start thinking about path to purchase. One of the biggest differences would be in how much a marketer spends on shopper marketing. Basically, I want to let… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 9 months ago
Another angle on this is the shopper “advocacy” that they feel toward any particular retailer. Regardless of the shopper segment to which a retailer caters, advocacy matters. Advocates are more valuable shoppers than Apathetics (customers who are indifferent to their primary retailer) or Antagonists (customers who actively dislike their primary retailer). However, retailers are struggling to transform their shoppers into Advocates. The average percentage of Advocates across five segments of retail (grocery, large-format apparel, mall-based specialty apparel, drugstore and online) is less than one quarter of the shoppers surveyed across the US. A retailer’s ability to fulfill shoppers’ expectations and understand their reasons for shopping simply helps get consumers in the door–it does not turn them into Advocates. It is the shopper’s experience with the store or website that transforms an existing shopper into an Advocate of the retailer or, conversely, into an Antagonist. After meeting shoppers’ basic needs, fulfilling expectations and understanding their reasons to shop, then retailers can develop advocacy. Shopper marketing addresses this, however the execution of the insights gained separates the… Read more »
Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Reason #11: Shoppers are the people who provide 98% of your revenue.

I’m amazed at the number of retailers who tell me that they don’t shop in their own stores. Many seem to think that getting their wife’s opinion is good enough. Every retail leader should regularly make a list, and then attempt to find those things in the store. Unsuccessful? So are many of your customers, who may be leaving with the contents of their wallets intact.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

I beg to differ with this statement: “Wal-Mart and other large retailers offer a bigger audience than prime time shows.” Even though TV audiences have obvious distractions, for the most part, people watching TV ARE watching the TV, with a regular stream of adverts interspersed. There is no such comparable situation at retail. Any one in-store screen gets momentary glimpses, sidelong glances and occasional brief viewings, from the very small fraction of shoppers who actually see it. Adding these up will deliver a total GRP that is a tiny fraction of the claim.

The numbers that major retailers are anxious to get embedded in the minds of those to whom they presume to sell this audience are vast exaggerations. (See “The In-Store ‘Audience’,” Journal of Advertising Research, June 2009, p 176.)

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 9 months ago
When I was a kid, my parents summoned my brother and me to the kitchen to taste-test powdered milk. We drank a lot of milk, funds were short, and they were hoping to save money by switching to the less expensive powdered milk. We gagged on the stuff, so economizing on powdered milk took a back seat to consumer preference. Thus the shopper, our mom, made purchases based not on her own preferences but on those of we thirsty little consumers. It’s about time we mothballed the hoary concept of 50-70% of purchase decisions being made at the grocery shelf. Instead, we need studies that at least break it down by shoppers who are the eventual consumers vs. those who purchase for others. This would quantify the real impact of household brand preferences on the actual purchase behavior by the household’s designated shopper. The brands preferred by the family members who do not shop are not “jump balls” for their designated shopper. Instead, they are irrevocable necessities not subject to shelfside decision making. Our kids… Read more »
Sandy Miller
Guest
Sandy Miller
11 years 9 months ago

Walmart got it right. The best place to influence shoppers is Reasons to Buy, after appetite appeal, health, convenience,(etc.) messages right where and when they make buying decisions. Most shoppers wants go beyond price to the benefits she gets at home when she is providing meals for her family and ideas for entertaining friends.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Shopper Insights have to be mixed with Consumer Insights in a holistic marketing manner. Only by exploring and understanding how the CONSUMER is INFLUENCED (be it Push and/or Pull Marketing) by various media–Traditional, “New,” or In-Store, can Retailers and Manufacturers get to the heart of taking the best care of Customers.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 9 months ago
My only list addition (and for me it’s the most important thing) is that merchants need to know their consumer overall, i.e., they need to see consumers not just as shoppers but as consumers who have lifestyle motivations, needs and desires both inside the shopping experience and outside the shopping experience. When merchants gain a better understanding of their consumer’s entire lifestyle, they can craft better marketing messages, create better products, influence that consumer outside the shopping experience and drive the consumer to purchase. For example, the senior demo is the fastest-growing demo nationwide. By understanding their lifestyles outside the store, merchants can, for example, build stores that are easier to navigate, stock products that seniors need and educate associates to better serve seniors. Same with new parents, couples planning a wedding, DIYers or fans of outdoor activities. Another example is loyalty/reward programs, wherein merchants can create programs that tee off the consumer’s outside-the-shopping-experience needs to drive in-store purchases. For instance, creating a program wherein consumers stash cash-backs in a retirement savings account tees off… Read more »
Bruce D. Sanders, Ph.D.
Guest
Bruce D. Sanders, Ph.D.
11 years 9 months ago

The promise of shopper marketing seems awfully long on enthusiasm and organizational restructuring, but short on specific new tactics that have been shown to reliably improve profitability for the retailer. I know some dramatic reports are there. For instance, the GMA-Deloitte white paper on shopper marketing says that making use of product placement findings resulted in a 500% sales lift rather than a 100% lift for mouthwash.

Still, the paper also says, “Organizations report that they are not able to calculate the impact of their shopper marketing efforts, or identify which programs, partners, or tactics are most successful.” In fact, the definition given there of shopper marketing doesn’t seem that different from a contemporary comprehensive approach to consumer behavior. Stirring the same old things up with new thinking to keep our brains stimulated can be worth the expense, but beware of the cost of putting the same old sheep in fashionable wolf’s clothing.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

It is a matter of semantics. Marketers (media-focused) are suddenly wielding the term shopper-marketing as if they just discovered the target of all the years of pumping out ads on TV, Radio and Magazines, which often were an annoyance rather providing useful information the shopper/browser/customer really needed to know.

Professionals in the store planning and design industry (footstep-focused) have been using for years touchpoint techniques to engage, inform, and attempt to satisfy the promises made in advertising. Whether working for a retailer or consumer marketing company, these pros have been applying the 10 principals of in-store marketing. That is what they do best.

Shilpa Rao
Guest
11 years 9 months ago

Like consumers, not all shoppers are the same; their motivations, aspiration and others are different. Hence it is essential to segment shoppers too to offer them a value proposition and increase impulse purchases. Certain decisions like assortment (product mix) could be based on consumer insights where as decisions on store layout/macro space planning, visual merchandising, branding, signage and others could be based on shopper insights. Decisions on pricing and promotions should take both into consideration.

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