Marketing to the shopper

| Marketing | January 7, 2013 | News

With customers becoming more and more picky about their buying preferences due to the huge number of options they have available to them today, persuading consumers from a general perspective isn't very effective any more and customization becomes the key to finding the solution for the gap between how a consumer is persuaded and how the consumer needs to be persuaded in order to convince him or her to buy a product or service. This is where shopper marketing comes in.

Shopper marketing basically means doing in-depth research on how people behave as shoppers, tracking their purchase patterns, finding out what thought process and emotions motivate them to make a purchase, and using this information to create a marketing mix that will enhance the shopping experience, improving brand equity, convincing the customer to buy and in the process increasing sales.

According to some, the use of shopper marketing is already widespread in India. This statement most likely originates from the fact that shopper marketing includes and uses traditional marketing methods in its marketing mix apart from adding the slight customized aspect to it which shopper marketing is all about. However, there are contrary opinions stating that shopper marketing is an emerging concept and, although it isn't widely used, it is seeing growth and slowly evolving in accordance with the country's market dynamics.

Guruduth Prabhu, Vice President, Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) believes that shopper marketing will play as the differentiator for the profitability of a brand. He further adds that there are different brands within the same product, the price competition is intense, and with disposable income levels of individuals having risen, it all boils down to the aspect of understanding the shopper.

Meanwhile, Manish Sharma, MD - Consumer Product Division, Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd., said: "Shopper marketing as a concept has only really permeated mainstream marketing over the last few years, however I feel it has vast scope in India. It is definitely an important move away from the short term and adversarial past of trade marketing and sales promotion tactics to a more strategic marketing discipline that has a key role to play in an integrated marketing approach."

Talking about giving shopper marketing an experiential touch, Sharma said that the goal of experiential marketing is to establish a connection with the consumer in such a way that they respond to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels. He feels that experiential marketing will help in those cases where the consumer is the shopper him/herself. He thinks it helps in understanding what the consumer is likely to think and feel, thereby making it possible to get an idea of how to steer the customer in a direction that will relate with the product, and entice individuals to act on that impulse to purchase.

Commenting on the topic, Vjay Dewan, Chief Creative Guardian, Everything Goes! Communications, said: "Now this is the growth area. It is all about creating experiences so that the consumer/shopper can become aware about a product for which he/she has never had a use before. That's the power. Suddenly you see consumers asking for only that brand of razor, all thanks to the persuasive experience created by the brand in a consumer corner program. Experiential marketing can be best used by understanding better the features and attributes of the specific brand and then magnifying the unique traits. It always pays!"

Dewan believes that shopper marketing is already getting personalized. He says that with data mining weaponry available, shoppers at various slabs can be effectively analysed and communications be created to intercept the potential shopper in his/her environments. Prabhu contributed by saying that presently with virtual space (internet) gaining momentum, it will revert to the touch, feel, experience, etc., of the brand and that capturing the behaviour of the shopper within the store with be the key.

Further adding to the discussion, Sharma said: "The trend is absolutely clear. The power of customer choice will force companies to bring shopper marketing to the core. Brands would need to spend time and resources in understanding the shopper as different from the consumer. While brand management and consumer marketing would manage the consumers, companies would have to partner with retailers to adopt category management for ensuring that the efforts of brand building bears tangible fruits and more and more customers buy the brands. Retail stores would have to be used as ‘laboratories' for testing and experimenting with new ideas."

In a world where customization reigns supreme, is shopper marketing the next frontier to tapping the consumer market?

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