Shoppers, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore!

The New Shopper Mindset

Shopper Marketing has rapidly gained ground and built buzz as the next big thing in consumer communication, and the recession has only helped to solidify its relevance. As consumers spend less, demand more and become increasingly self-reliant, brands and retailers have to collaborate more than ever to not only meet their expectations, but to also succeed and profit themselves. The path to purchase has been hit by a tornado of swirling messages powerful enough to sweep consumers off their feet into a new and exciting world of shopper marketing. Like Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz,” our shoppers have been transported from the ho-hum black and white world where everything was simple, to a Technicolor fanfare of options, ideas and conversations.

Before we look at what’s ahead, let’s make sure we’re all talking about the same thing. What actually is the definition of Shopper Marketing?

Compliments of the In-store Marketing Institute’s Retail Commission on Shopper Marketing, “Shopper Marketing is the use of insights-driven marketing and merchandising initiatives to satisfy the needs of targeted shoppers, enhance the shopping experience, and improve business results and brand equity for retailers and manufacturers.”

Here’s an example from the In-Store Marketing Institute about understanding the shopper and their shopping trip, and surrounding them with the right message and the right tactics.


48% of targeted grocery store shoppers plan dinner that same day and 32% eat out two or more times each week. The objective for the retailer and their brand partners is to drive increased purchases in the Fresh departments of the supermarket among loyal shoppers and increased penetration among less loyal shoppers. The common characteristic of the target shopper? They’re time-starved.

The message the retailer (and their market-leader premium brand partner) wants to communicate is this…Simple meal solutions your family will love, made from quality fresh products in less than 20 minutes.

The tactics selected provide both the traditional avenues to reach the target audience to deliver the message—the weekly circular, radio advertising and in-store navigation signage, and then add the tactics that are relevant in their life and in the need they have—website menu planning, “meal of the day” push email, Mom’s discussion blogs, Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, Meal Bundle pricing, and in-store menu cards, meal planning guides and solution sampling demos.

Understand the Shopper

What’s at the heart of that? Understanding that as consumers turn into shoppers, their needs and motivations change dramatically. And those needs continue to change based on the kind of shopping trip they’re undertaking. A Saturday morning pantry-loading trip is very different from a “stop on my way home for a dinner solution.”

It’s an exciting time for collaboration between retailers and brands. We’re seeing a lot of success in the market being achieved with a sharper shopper-focus, devoting more resources to shopper research, insights-based planning, building ideas in partnership, and creating in-store marketing campaigns that prove more relevant to the target audience. All of this helps our shoppers follow “the yellow brick road” that is the path to purchase.

Surround the Shopper

So where is Shopper Marketing headed? Even more focus on a 360-degree strategy to surround and understand the shopper. Connecting with shoppers at every stage of the path to purchase, and likely doing that digitally. Today’s message has broken through the traditional media outlets of television, print campaigns and billboards. We must recognize that consumers have the power and the information to inform their best decisions at their fingertips (in their handheld devices). Seeing retailers define the promotional space and demanding relevance from brands, for them and for their shoppers. Integrating old and new media…and connecting it all to the shelf. Developing distribution strategies that reflect and capture the trip types of the target audience. And an irrevocable demand for measurability and accountability.

These are the things that will inspire consumers to get to the shelves and shop for your products, almost as if they stopped to click their heels together to chant, “there’s no place like store…”