Buyer Beware: how retailers can bait and ambush shoppers

By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY, NSW: Consumers who think they can go into a store just to look don’t realise they’re being targeted from every direction. You can hide from the sales person asking “are you right?”, but you can’t hide from the lights, the sounds and the store layout.

Shoppers behave in predictable ways and that behaviour can be influenced according to retail management consultant A.T. Kearney. And the company suggests a three stage approach to marketing to shoppers: developing a clear understanding of shopper behaviour, engaging the shopper in unique in-store experiences and, converting the shopper into a buyer.

“The channels used to reach consumers are less immediate and less targeted: after you see an ad on TV, it’s often some time before you make a purchasing decision based on it,” said Irvinder Goodhew, a principal at A.T. Kearney. “By contrast, shopper marketing is immediate: in-store strategies speak to customers at the moment they’re making the purchase.”

Goodhew says that tactics available to retailers include product displays, demonstrations and in-store TVs, but also more subtle tactics such as engineering music, lighting and the shopping path of the store layout.

For example, in the United States, Proctor & Gamble worked with Walmart to redesign its baby-care centre to reflect life through the eyes of children, using interactive communication and playful imagery. Apparently the success of that store layout led to a global roll-out of the concept.

Goodhew says the success of a shopper marketing strategy relies on knowing your consumers and what makes them become shoppers.

“These insights are gathered through methods such as ethnography, online text analysis, traffic flow analysis and virtual shopping; this data is then used to design tactics around shelf presentation, incentives, store layout and promotions,” she said. “To take these insights to the next level, data from retailers and external market insights are overlaid to develop a 360 degree view on the purchasing environment in which the person exists.”

For example, A.T. Kearney reports after Tesco observed a direct correlation in nappy and beer sales, it worked with manufacturers in both categories to develop an insightful analysis of the likely shopper demographic: young fathers, buying supplies for their family and rewarding themselves with a six-pack.

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