Shopper Marketing – A View from Down Under

Despite the fact that Dublin is over 17,000 kms away from Sydney and there are significant differences between the Irish and Aussie culture, economy, socio-demographics, ethnicity and geography – one fact remains constant and that is how to overcome the challenge in better targeting and engagement of Shoppers to make them buy more of our brands from our stores.

Shoppers, on a global level, are fundamentally looking for 3 key deliverables whenever they are in “shopping mode” and they are:

Navigation (help me find what I want – where and when I want it)
Education (give me advice on what I am buying or what I should be buying) Inspiration (make my shopping trip more enjoyable / experiential so that it makes me shop more frequently and buy more when I visit) As shopper marketers, we have a global challenge to meet on how best to leverage all the available insight and information we have at our disposal to better understand the What, How, When, Where, Who and most importantly the Why’s of why shoppers shop. Let’s ensure we don’t drown in the data but cut through to the pertinent shopper insight that will enable us to turn answers into actions.

The evolution of shopper marketing is a topic that is constantly written about with good reason. How we market brands to target audiences today and the accountabilities shopper marketers are held to will be different tomorrow than they are today…change is the only constant.

Despite the common theory that shoppers shop on auto pilot, they are actually heavily involved in the process and despite the relentless barrage of ‘cheap prices’ that are impossible to avoid, it has actually resulted in exhausting them. In fact, many shoppers make the most important purchase decisions when they’re in ‘shopper mode’ at the store and at the fixture. The traditional marketing model tells us marketing communications trigger a desire or need for a brand when the shopper is out and about living their lives; so when the shopper is later in store shopping they will automatically go and buy the brand we want them to.

Never has the traditional marketing model been more incorrect.

Shopper marketers are tasked with gaining a better understand of shopping behaviour and what influences shoppers to buy whilst in store. Therefore, it is crucial to better understand the shopping trips they make (eg a full stock up shop vs a top up shop), the purchase decisions they make when shopping (what is their decision hierarchy), and what is triggering those decisions (impact of POS and promotional mechanics in store). Data is everywhere, how we utilise this information is crucial to any promotional campaign or activation.

How we unlock this data and insight, to help understand the shopper journey along the path to purchase, is crucial to influencing and changing behaviour at the point of purchase. The diagram below illustrates the various touchpoints that shopper marketing can interact with the shopper along the path to purchase by better engagement through the living, planning, buying and using stages of the purchase decision.

Shopper Marketing Example, Worldwide

There is a myriad of shopper data and insight available to us all but how we use this information is key to unlocking the dynamics behind shopper behaviours and attitudes. Turning these answers into actions, we can become better informed on how we can help brands and retailers communicate more effectively with their shoppers and consumers. We can learn how to better interact with them in store, become part of their daily lives and understand the barriers that stand in our way that prevent shoppers from NOT buying our products from our stores.

Basic shopper demographics such as age, gender, socio-demographic groups, frequency of visits and basket spend are all good measures of who your current (and target) shoppers are and how they interact at the POP. If we don’t unlock the key insight behind WHY are they shopping in Retailer X vs Retailer Y and WHY are they buying Brand A vs Brand B, we will struggle to get any tangible and meaningful shopper insight that will help understand shopper behaviour along the path to purchase and how to influence and change that behaviour.

Understanding a shopper’s usage and attitudes towards buying brands and using specific retailers or formats will help determine the most relevant shopper centric activation to meet the desired need of that shopper and drive category sales incrementally (not just brand switching).

Segmentation work has been undertaken in the Australian petrol and convenience channel to help better understand key behaviours and motivations for buying (or not buying). It provides an in-depth understanding on the various segments of shoppers and be able to profile them based on what they are more likely and less likely to do and purchase in store.

Understanding the needs of shoppers helps to get into their mindset and also helps to create relevant solution based selling opportunities and touch-points throughout the path to purchase. Shoppers don’t shop just to buy a chocolate bar or a can of energy drink, they shop to fulfil or satisfy a specific need or want such as “I’m Hungry”, “I’m Thirsty”, “I need to buy breakfast or lunch”. This way of better understanding shoppers by their specific need is also known as Mission Management.

Taking global best practise from the USA, Ireland and UK, many retailers in Australia have started to redesign their store formats and layouts. They have created “Zones” in store that help to deliver against these needs / missions, making the whole shopping experience easier and quicker for shoppers by implementing cross category planograms and promotional activity. Having a targeted solution to meet your shopper needs is a sure way to drive category growth as well as increase frequency of visits as the proposition is now geared towards giving the shopper more occasion to buy at that particular retailer.

By Mark Johnston (Senior Account Director at Evocatif)