Retail marketers have third string

Know shopper from consumer or customer

I remember the first time people around me mentioned “shopper marketing”. Twenty years in the industry and suddenly here was this white-hot new discipline that had seemingly passed me by.

Now, of course, everyone is talking “shopper”. It’s the new arena where brand managers can achieve true competitive advantage. And, for once, the reality matches the hype – provided you really understand what it is and how to harness its power. That means, in part, knowing the difference between your shopper, consumer and customer.

First, shopper marketing is not just sales promotion or point of sale by a different name. Applied properly, it is both a lot more strategic and a lot more simple than that. It requires a shift in perspective from consumer (where your brand proposition might be, such as “mega tasty”) to shopper (where your brand proposition might be “give the kids a treat…”). The consumer and the shopper are often different people, such as kids versus mum, so simply recycling your consumer insight can be totally irrelevant.

Next, understanding the customer – ie trade – side of the equation is vital. When developing shopper strategies you attempt to please two audiences – shopper and trade customer. Satisfying them both is tricky, and requires some level of expertise and experience. Some say it amounts to knowing the “art of the possible” but we’ve also seen the impossible achieved simply by understanding the trade customers’ ultimate goals and showing how an innovative campaign can help achieve them. It’s amazing what becomes possible in retail if the prize is large enough.

Finally, keeping the entire shopper marketing experience on-brand is a skill often lost in the rush to design the coolest in-store mechanic. At Joshua G2, we place shopper marketing within the continuum of overall brand communications so that key brand values are consistent across the entire experience.

Even if our shopper is different from our consumer, the brand still conveys consistent values, tonality and character. This allows us to leverage key brand assets across a wider experience – straplines, key visuals, core USPs – while still focusing specific messaging to the right occasion.

So many shopper campaigns appear disconnected from the brands they serve. Or do little to enhance brand equity, merely pillage it in the interests of a quick sale. By giving shopper marketing its rightful place in the spectrum of communications planning, we embrace the power of shopper marketing for our clients’ brands.

Next time someone mentions shopper marketing, think synergistic strategy that connects your consumer, shopper and customer in one seamless brand experience. And you’ll be good to go. 


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