Commentary

Turn Consumers Into Shoppers

Brand managers are facing a huge shift in power from brands to retailers. So it makes sense that they are pondering the questions: What is the difference between consumer and shopper marketing? When should we use one or the other? Are separate agencies even necessary?

These are good questions, but not the right questions for today's marketplace.

Building brands while driving volume is not about the differences between consumer and shopper marketing. It's not about separating the two or focusing resources on one or the other. It is about Good Marketing -- marketing that turns consumers into shoppers by building brand equity all the way to the point-of-purchase, wherever that may be, in home, away from home, or at retail.

Good Marketing demands two kinds of expertise -- one in brand and the other in retail -- converging to create experiential brand ideas.

It requires understanding how consumers relate with the brand within the context of their everyday lives, as well as how they -- or someone shopping for them -- relate to the brand within the context of a particular retailer.

This means gathering and applying insights at every touch-point along the path to purchase.

To simplify things, we created six questions that should be answered to build a brand all the way to retail. While deceptively simple, unanswered questions can often explain why Good Marketing was left behind.

1. What is the brand's and the retailer's key source of differentiation?

Most marketers believe that differentiation is the "engine" of any successful brand effort. While true, differentiation can't stop with an understanding of the brand's equity.

Today, the retailer often has a bigger draw, a bigger voice and more control than the brand. The new goal is to create communications, products and packaging that serve both the brand and the retailer. For example, Kashi has actually created different products to target different segments at Bashas' supermarkets.

2. Where is the purchase decision made?

Knowing where this decision is made connects the brand to the consumer and shopper in a relevant way. This requires investing in the necessary research to gain that knowledge -- not only in home, but also quantitative, ethnographic research in store.

3. Who are the targets pre-store versus in-store?

The consumer is often not the shopper: Consider a mom who buys energy drinks for her teenage son. Communications can introduce a brand to both mom and her son, motivate trial with the son and lead mom to the category in a store, while convincing mom that this is the brand to buy.

This requires insights about the mom, the son, the brand and the retailer. It requires an understanding of barriers and bonds to trial and to purchase. It also demands that brand managers uncover where and when to best reach the mom and the son, which is most likely in different places and at different times.

4. What is the desired brand experience and how do we maximize participation?

It takes a great brand idea to recreate a brand's essence and serve up an experience that people recognize as true to the brand and relevant to their lives. A great engagement strategy ensures that people come across that brand experience again and again and are enticed to become loyal users.

5. What is the role of advertising, digital, promotions and merchandising?

Start with merchandising, which is not where most start. Merchandising is about connecting the brand to the shopper, not about waiting for the shopper to come to you. If merchandising gets your product into the hands of your consumer, then your advertising, digital and promotions can be used to close the deal. Finally, it is not about having the most touch points, but about using the touch points that are the most effective, most effectively.

6. What are the drivers of impulsivity?

The word "impulsivity" describes what in-store experiences need to accomplish to turn consumers into shoppers. Why argue whether the percentage of purchase decisions made in-store is 70% or 20%. In truth, it varies. The key is to understand the dynamics in play because they give us opportunities to drive impulsivity -- and sales -- at retail.

If you can answer these six questions, you're on track to innovate your way to growth based on measurable ROI. Moreover, you are well on your way to marketing to the consumer and the shopper most effectively - and that is Good Marketing.

Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute to this newsletter, see our editorial guidelines first and then contact Nina Lentini.

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2 comments about "Turn Consumers Into Shoppers ".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , July 22, 2009 at 8:05 a.m.

    7. What are factors addressing the opposition camps promoting products relative to obesity? to healthier foods? to healthier lifestyles as in supermarkets and restaurants?

    8. What are the forces behind value? Affordability and tighter purses? Save, conserve, spend less for more are rallying cries stronger and mightier now than a few years ago heard from various media outlets.

    We will all still be buying foodstuffs and all sorts of other items. But more perspective needs to be set in reality. Not all brands are created equal either and then some others have are pretty much the same with different packaging and pricing and it appears that consumers are becoming a bit more savvy due to necessity. Sale, clearance, a great deal are the general public's favorite brands.

  2. Jeff Robinson from JRC Limited , July 22, 2009 at 11:22 a.m.

    Thanks for the article. It is succinct and relevant. I particularly like your explanation of experiential marketing in one short sentence.