• 10.15.09

Forget the Consumer (Momentarily). Focus On the Shopper

Last month, Procter & Gamble laid down the law for all its advertising agencies, explaining that If a marketing idea doesn’t connect back to the store and impact shoppers at the point-of-purchase, they aren’t interested in pursuing it. The “store back” program was a clear declaration of the importance of the shopper.


I believe that the reason many marketers and agencies create programs that are disconnected between the TV or computer screen and the store is that they are only thinking about the consumer–not the shopper. Or, they have different teams thinking about the consumer vs. the shopper. P&G recognizes that the pieces need to come together.


What’s the difference? The consumer, who good marketers get to know well demographically and psychographically, has an entirely different mindset when they get in their car to go shopping. A mindset that traditional targeting approaches don’t encompass.

Their mindset is driven by need states that dictate what they will buy, where they will buy it and why. Tapping into this mindset with an understanding of the consumer’s path to purchase is critical. Various studies say that, depending on the product category, 50-74% of all purchase decisions in mass merchandisers are made in store. Influencing those decisions in the last 18 inches of the sale is of value.

Key considerations to influencing those decisions:

  • Based on the product, understand the “need state” of the shopper. Are they pantry-stocking when they buy your product? Or is it a “grab ‘n go” trip? When this insight about need state drives your merchandising plans (what you say, where you say it promotions), you’ll have a higher chance for success.
  • Understand the barriers to purchase in the retail context. Are consumers overwhelmed with the cheese case due to choice confusion? How have you made the product easy to find and buy? Are the cold cut refrigerators cold and unwelcoming? Are they headed into a home convenience store with a specific mission to complete? Again, these insights can drive your merchandising plan.
  • Tap into the retailers’ segmentation for greater success. All major grocery, drug and mass merchandisers have their own segmentation strategy for their shoppers. And they look for products that meet the needs of THEIR segments. It’s critical to understand the segmentation of your top retailer and how your product addresses their needs. When it gets to the retail environment, your segments are far less important than the retailers’ segments.

Obviously a holistic view of your target as consumer and shopper is critical, just as an integrated plan that connects and resonates with the target in store and out of store is optimal. It’s too bad that a marketer has to lay down a special program for its agencies to rise to that challenge.

In partnership with the ARFsharon napier

Sharon Napier is President and CEO of Partners + Napier, an independent, mid-sized agency that liberates the promises of brands wherever they live. The agency partners with leading brands including Kodak, Constellation Wines U.S., Lactalis American Group, Wegmans, Citibank Student Loans, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Bausch & Lomb, UPS, Thule, and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.