Are you exciting your consumers or just flickering a spark for someone else’s brand?

In the world of consumer goods, there are those who use them—the consumer—and those who buy them—the shopper. In many cases, such as pet products, baby formula, and menswear, the person doing the shopping isn’t the same as the one doing the consumption.

So why do marketers invest so heavily in whipping consumers into a desirous frenzy and then fail to appeal to the shoppers who ante up the money at the check-out?

Shopper marketing bridges this vast gap. We start by understanding the person who consumes your product. The consumer marketing team’s job is to create desire in the consumer and they can’t possibly do this unless they know who should want the product. What do they want from the product? How often do they consume? On what occasions do they consume? What drives their desire to consume it?

Once you have this information, you can focus on increasing that consumption, which should be your goal if you want to build the brand and increase sales.

You can go to great lengths to influence the shopper but if there isn’t a consumer on other end pushing for the shopper to buy the brand, your success is compromised. The consumer’s needs go unfulfilled and your sales won’t meet your expectations.

Consider this. A teenager wants mom to stock up on a certain sports drink and even puts the brand name on her shopping list. She gets to the store and sees a display of a different brand on a gondola end. She can’t see the difference in the products themselves and therefore figures that one sports drink is as good as another. So she buys the alternative. Her teen might be disappointed—or not—but will consume the beverage any way, and may even like it better. The point is, because the manufacturer failed to impress its brand value on the shopper, they lost the sale. And the result is that this consumer might actually become loyal to the alternative.

Without youngsters nagging mom for their favorite cereal, teens in need of the coolest clothing, or men deciding it’s time to upgrade the television set, the wheels of purchase are not set in motion. The shopper marketing approach recognized the importance of this role as the necessary spark. The consumer goods company has three customers: the consumer, the shopper, and the retailer. Each one requires a different relationship and a unique set of influencers.

First, know your consumer. Ensure that your brand is desirable. Build your value proposition so that it resonates so powerfully with the consumer that this individual pushes all the harder for the shopper to make the buy of that specific brand. That teenager should tell mom that no substitute is acceptable, and here’s why. If you fail to impress the value upon the consumer, the shopper won’t see it either.

Start with the consumer and create a powerful ally here. But be clear that it’s the shopper who wields the ultimate buying power.

Do you know who your consumer is? What about those who shop for the consumer? How do you differentiate your marketing to each segment? Please share your thoughts and experiences here.


2 thoughts on “Are you exciting your consumers or just flickering a spark for someone else’s brand?

  1. Hi Mike,

    It’s all about understanding and having clarity about your customers and shoppers and then building that understanding and clarity into your internal processes and getting it aligned with your retail partners. In fact shopper marketing is the missing link between consumer and trade marketing. This is where the rubber meets the road and where the interests of both the manufacturer and the retailer coincide and where both are eyeing for that critical conversion from browser shoppers into buyers.
    However, the journey starts much before when the consumption needs gives rise to shopping mission and in order to fulfill that shopping mission someone decides to take a shopping trip(type) to a channel/retailer(retailer equity). But wait who is this someone? In fact, this is the most critical question to address and in fact this is what gave birth to the whole discipline of shopper marketing. Marketers need to know who are their consumers and shoppers? Are they the same or different? In case they are the same(Personal/intimate products) then basically your consumer marketing is doing the function of shopper marketing except for that last leg in the path to purchase in-store. In case your shopper is not the same as your consumer then the key questions you need to address is how much of control/ authority the shopper has on variety of decisions to path to purchase – brand, scent/flavor, form, size and channel/retailer choice. For categories which are more prone to in-store influences, it is critical for marketers to build a strong pre-disposition for their brands by building brand equity leading to brand loyalty. In other words winning the battle much early in the path to purchase and shielding both the consumer and the shopper from those last minute in-store influences.
    In fact, if your brand has a strong brand equity resulting in high brand loyalty you do not need to get on the in-store marketing band wagon too aggressively, instead you need to revisit your marketing mix to adjust your in-store marketing activities. But this is very rare in today’s crowded CPG market place where only 18% of the brands enjoy high brand equity. This is the challenge of recent times that very few CPG brands were able to develop that kind of brand equity, pre-disposition and loyalty. Please review the following statistics according to a Deloitte & Touche study and why the discipline of shopper marketing was born:

    •68 percent are brand switchers
    •Only 5 percent are loyal to one brand
    •73 percent shop in five or more channels
    •Only 26 percent are loyal to an average retailer

    These statistics are alarming, given the fact that marketers are making every effort to create the exact opposite effect. Consider for a moment, the impressive depth of marketing penetration, convenience, choice, and innovation created by savvy manufacturer and retailer marketers:

    •Reach: 3,000 marketing messages a day reach the average consumer,
    •Convenience: The number of retail channels have more than doubled in just 50 years
    •Choice: Over 45,000 SKUs await the consumer in the average supermarket, and
    •Innovation: 32,624 new products were introduced in 2006 alone.

    Given this substantial marketing effort, one would think the aforementioned loyalty statistics would be altogether different. Unfortunately, they are not. This has caused the industry to question and re-think whether the right marketing messages are delivered to the right consumer, at the right time, in the right place, and with an impact that creates incremental consumption and loyalty. Indeed, marketers are abuzz with re-focusing their efforts on marketing to the consumer in a holistic and integrated manner, sometimes referred to as 360-degree marketing. However, in doing so, they are quickly concluding that there are many “blind spots” across the 360-degree view of the consumer. One such blind spot is perhaps one of the most compelling marketing mediums – the retail store.
    Thanks, Humayun

  2. Dear Humayan,
    Thanks very much for your input – agree with much of it. In particular the balance between building pre-store equity and what happens in-store. We see more and more money pouring into the store; and this is becoming a larger share of total marketing. There is a grave danger of a vicious cycle where less is spent building more brand equity, leaving “more to do” in-store, meaning that more funds are diverted to retail, etc. Eventually brands will die if this is not averted.

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