Retailer Beware: traditional marketing fails to turn consumers into shoppers

By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY, NSW: Consumers and shoppers are apparently not the same beast and the same old bait isn’t working. Retailers who fail to implement marketing strategies that call ‘shoppers’ into action will lose out on sales opportunities according to a retail consultant.

A principal at retail management consultant A.T. Kearney, Irvinder Goodhew, argues that ‘shoppers’ are a different group to ‘consumers’, and because of this they require a targeted strategy to influence their in-store experience.

But is making a distinction between consumers and shoppers just semantics or is there a financial gain for retailers who consider the claim and apply the advice?

“Shopper marketing goes beyond traditional consumer marketing to engage shoppers at the ‘moment of truth’ — which is in-store,” said Goodhew. “Notionally, outside of the store you are considered to be a consumer. As soon as you enter the store you are a shopper and can behave in entirely different ways.

“In fact up to 70 per cent of purchase decisions are made in-store and 68 per cent can be impulsive. How many times have you gone to the supermarket to grab some milk and bread, and come out with a full basket?,” she explained.

Now we are exposed to the concept of a difference between shoppers and consumers, how do we create more shoppers?

“Traditional marketing is losing effectiveness, shoppers want to buy experiences, not things, and the use of the internet for price comparisons and purchases means retailers must increase the value of in-store shopping,” said Goodhew. “All these forces are behind a growing interest in the shopper marketing approach.”

But according to Goodhew, marketing to shoppers is also a challenge for manufacturers who need to tailor their strategy to suite each retailer: it’s not a one solution fits all approach.

“Some manufacturers have struggled with poor retailer activation, lack of budgetary discipline and poor cross functional integration all of which are required to generate success,” she said.

So what can you do in store to turn consumers into shoppers?

In one example in the USA, when GlaxoSmithKline launched a product called Isoactive in Walmart, it apparently used in-store demonstrations and television advetisements at the end of aisles. The result was a reported as a successful strong brand launch with category sales increase for both retailers and GlaxoSmithKline.

Goodhew says that retailers and manufacturers who design their in-store merchandising displays to convert consumer to shoppers are getting returns.

“Globally, first-movers are seeing real results with sophisticated shopper marketing programs, growing brand revenue on average 25 per cent faster than overall category, while 69 per cent of retailers also experienced permanent sales lifts as a result of their initiatives.”

Some of these initiatives don’t need to be expensive though. Retail trainer, Bob Johnson, writes in Appliance Retailer magazine December 2009 that you need to break through the visual clutter and grab attention.

“In your quest to be noticed, or draw attention to a particular offer, you are constantly competing with an extraordinary amount of ‘visual noise’ — your average customer is bombarded with hundreds, sometimes thousands of marketing messages every day,” said Bob.

“Get the focal point right and you’ve got yourself a visual magnet — get it wrong and all you’ll have is a bunch of stuff that says and does nothing for you.”

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