What is Shopper Marketing? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Where's a great place to reach shoppers? Why, in the store, of course! In this lesson, we'll discuss what shopper marketing means, its benefits, and where you can spot it as you're walking the aisles.

Reaching Shoppers In-Store

Years ago, if you were a parent shopping for baby necessities in a grocery store, you would have had to walk through numerous aisles to collect baby food, diapers, and other supplies. That's because there was no baby department like we're used to seeing today. Instead, different items were displayed in separate locations.

Procter & Gamble, long considered the shopper marketing pioneer, was instrumental in changing that frustrating store design into something that was more convenient for new parents; a baby center that stashed all infant and toddler products in one general location.

What they discovered from this change was that parents spent more time - and more money - in the new layout. This changed the way stores and brands could communicate with and market to young families.

This example of shopper marketing created a system that worked better for everyone involved. A win-win, you might say.

What is Shopper Marketing?

Marketing to shoppers is entirely different from marketing to consumers. It focuses on understanding how shoppers function inside the sales space, how they make buying decisions in the moment, and how they respond to the shopping experience. You may think you know consumers when you're trying to reach them on their couches in front of the television, but reaching the shopper is an entirely different story.

The goal of shopper marketing is to influence shopper behavior while people are in the shopping mode in a way that builds brands and drives consumption and growth.

The Shopper Marketing Basics

There are all different types of marketing strategies and tactics out there. However, none are as close to the point of sale as the concept of shopper marketing. It's all about how you approach customers in the aisles and departments as they're filling their carts and preparing to check out.

It's helpful to think of consumer marketing as a more passive concept where you're advertising to consumers on television, in print and online to build awareness about your brand. Shopper marketing is more active; you're meeting buyers at their decision-making point and helping them over the final hump to make a purchase of your product.

Brands benefit from shopper marketing by building a message that compels shoppers at the point of purchase. This type of marketing generates more sales and - hopefully - creates lifelong customers.

Where Can I Find Shopper Marketing?

You've probably seen multiple instances, maybe even today, of shopper marketing tactics in progress. Have you ever peeled off a sheet to participate in a bubble gum company's contest or watched an in-store demonstration or video? What about logging into a shopping or coupon app to try to save a few pennies? Here are some examples of shopper marketing in action.

1. Coupon dispensers: Called Blinkies, in-store coupon machines can set one brand apart from its nearby competitors by offering a coupon from a SmartSource coupon machine situated just beneath the product in question. Coupons in the form of a brightly colored sticker might also be attached to the front of products to catch a shopper's eye. Cereal companies, probably because of the vast amount of competition they face, are heavy users of in-store coupon dispensers.

2. Mobile phone applications: Target's Cartwheel mobile phone application is a relative newcomer to the shopping space, but is has greatly impacted how Target shoppers make purchases inside the store. Most in-store shoppers are turning to their mobile devices to check prices and product availability, anyway. This app, a collection of virtual coupons, makes shopping a breeze when you add items you're interested into your cart and then present them for discounts at the checkout counter.

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