This is defined as "understanding how one's target consumers behave as shoppers, in different channels and formats and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers."
The importance of Shopper Marketing to Promotional Marketing is that it is the promotional marketing practitioners who are best placed to take advantage of this important new trend. According to Chris Hoyt in the book Shopper Marketing (Kogan Page, 2009) "Shopper marketing is brand marketing in retail environment.” Since it includes category management, displays, sales, packaging, promotion, research and marketing, "Shopper marketing is the elephant in the room that nobody sees the same way."
Many people wrongly believe that shopper marketing is simply in store POS and communication. In reality it is far more complex than that, and may indeed start before the shopper has entered a store. It may use any element of the marketing mix, and frequently requires that the members of the supply chain co-operate to produce innovative solutions. Thus it frequently crosses the traditional sales / marketing divide, and requires the co-ordination of these resources as well as traditional marketing techniques.
The key to Shopper Marketing is that whilst the most important place to communicate to people about a product or service is clearly at the time that they are actively shopping or looking, this has not been traditionally the time (or media environment) that enjoys the majority of the communication budget. In short, too much energy has been spent building brands that people then either cannot find or that are overwhelmed by the competition once people get in store to buy.
Shopper marketing frequently requires a mindset shift in terms of the retail environment. Frequently we consider stores simply as places that product is put on display and therefore is sold. Shopper marketing extends the role of the store from simply ‘display space’ to make it a valuable and integral part of the marketing toolkit.
Shopper marketing, if done well, should involve the intelligent use of marketing from the very beginning of the sales process to the very end. Unfortunately, as marketing professionals, we tend to specialise in a particular aspect of marketing and therefore can only hope to provide a small part of the expertise that is necessary to truly embrace and action Shopper Marketing. Promotional Marketing companies tend to be at an advantage here because they probably have the widest set of skills appropriate – but even they need to step back and look for the new opportunities that present themselves. For instance, one of the most common problems in FMCG marketing is that supermarkets tend to lay their stores out as a reflection of the buying departments that supply them, whether or not the consumer is interested in shopping that way, or associating those products in the same way. For example, what are ‘Morning Goods’? Supermarkets have Morning Goods buyers who lay their produce out in the same area of the store. Consumers don’t navigate their way according to that category. Why is chilled pastry next to the butter? Why isn’t gravy next to the meat? Helping your clients to help the retailers to get these basics right is fundamental and an important part of Shopper Marketing.
Shoppers need to be understood in terms of what their needs as a shopper are, where they are likely to shop, in which stores they can be influenced and what in-store activity influences them. Unilever defines a shopper insight - an insight upon which shopper marketing is based - as a "focus on the process that takes place between that first thought the consumer has about purchasing an item, all the way through the selection of that item”.
Shopper marketing challenges the assumption that the shopper and the consumer are the same. Despite the fact that this is not always true (consider the consumer and shopper of pet food for a moment) it is clear that the industry still gets confused. Shopper marketing also recognises the fact that the same shopper will behave differently in different retailers – even when buying from the same category.
Shopper marketing is important for many reasons, but it is clearly of importance to manufacturers if for no other reason than they spend vast amounts of money on it, and that these amounts are increasing. Many organizations spend over 8% of total sales on in-store marketing; when total trade spend is added up it can often top 40% of total revenue.
A significant factor in the rise of shopper marketing is the availability of high quality data from which insights may be gleaned to help shape strategic plans. According to recent industry studies, manufacturer investment in shopper marketing is growing at more than 21% annually – faster than any other part of marketing.