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Last week was Social Media Week, and with all the coverage Blogging Out Loud was giving the topic, I was beginning to feel like the unofficial spokesperson for it all. While Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and the likes have seen a lot of screen time here, we’d be remiss to think marketing has been reduced solely to a virtual experience. So, it was refreshing to revisit the concept of “shopper marketing” with my Vertical Marketing Network coworkers. There’s no shortage of numbers to help marketers understand consumers, but with shoppers, things can be different. One example considers the average consumer and shoppers of pet food. They are likely to be a pretty diverse demographic, right? Now, consider the average consumer and the shoppers of high-end toothpaste, or something like butter, and we can get an understanding of how complicated shopper marketing can be. The difference between consumers and shoppers seems slight, but the range broadens when we recognize that not all consumers are shoppers, and not all shoppers shop alike. Thus, we have shopper marketing, which targets specific groups of consumers based not just on their age, education and income level, but the ways they shop. Understanding the different ways shoppers shop not only benefits the shopper (nay, consumer), it also strengthens brands and certainly benefits retailers.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like marketers run the risk of being bogged down by consumer data analysis paralysis. Focusing on the shopper — even the one inside — is factual, fun and full of surprises.
Brushing up on shopper marketing gave me more than a few things to think about. Consider:
1. The basic principles of consumer marketing can be applied to shopper marketing. That is, the Four Ps: Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. Engaged marketers need to think like a shopper of a specific brand or product. What would you want? What makes you want to purchase Brand X over Brands Y or Z?
2. Shoppers are constantly being bombarded with messages to buy, whether it’s via a TV commercial, billboard, newspaper advertisement, or increasingly likely, an email or online ads. If you’re reading this blog post at the end of a day, you’ve likely been the target of over 3,000 marketing messages since waking up. What’s the difference between being an intrusive and relevant marketing message, versus being a consistent barrage of irrelevant communications? Is your brand saying something significant to your shopper demographic? If it does, great! But isn’t it more powerful when a brand’s message translates into a rewarding shopping experience?
3. Shopper marketing should be a complete package, and effective shopper marketing will engage a shopper before, during and after their buying spree. Connecting with a shopper before the point of sale could mean an informative ad, but it could also mean running a great online promotion or offering a coupon via one of those social networks I’m reporting on. In September 2010, the In-Store Marketing Institute reported 73 percent of U.S. shoppers used printable Web coupons; 63 percent used online circulars; 58 percent used direct emails from brands; 57 percent used Facebook promotions; and 53 percent took advantage of promotions via a retailers website. Engage shoppers during the shopping experience with any number of coupons or promotions, interesting displays and informative packaging. Think about the post-shopping experience: how do we make them want more?
4. In April 2010, The Retail Commission on Shopper Marketing declared “shopper marketing is the next evolutionary stage in strategic retail marketing, and a mandatory component of effective consumer marketing in general.” They also recognize that “the most essential and effective form of shopper marketing involves collaboration between retailers and product manufacturers.” How can savvy marketers facilitate this, or even be involved?
It’s a jungle out there. Shoppers have difficult — and sometimes overwhelming — decisions to make, and marketers want to aid that process while being true to their brands. Successful shopper marketing should benefit all players involved, and while we see this play out online, it’s in stores that the overall marketing experience can truly be felt.
Disconnect. Go shopping. It’s good for you.