What is Shopper Marketing?

Mary McMahon

Shopper marketing is a form of marketing which focuses on appealing to people who are actively in the process of purchasing products. This differs from marketing targeted at consumers in general to get them to buy products, although this type of marketing plays a role in shopper marketing campaigns. Essentially, shopper marketing is marketing in the purchase environment, whether that is a retail store, a website, or a wholesaler. Not all companies use shopper marketing as a tool, but those which do may pursue extensive advertising campaigns to get their messages out.

Companies use brand extensions to put the brand's name in more locations, increasing the number of times a consumer will see it during a shopping trip.
Companies use brand extensions to put the brand's name in more locations, increasing the number of times a consumer will see it during a shopping trip.

Many people who enter grocery stores, drug stores, and similar types of retail environments are familiar with shopper marketing even if they are not aware of it. The carefully arranged displays of candy and magazines at the checkout register are a superb example of selling to shoppers. These displays are designed to appeal to impulse buyers, and a great deal of thought goes into the selection of products and how they are displayed in order to appeal to specific types of shoppers. For example, a high-end grocery store might display gourmet food magazines at the registers.

Displays that feature items marketed toward a specific demographic can sometimes increase impulse buying.
Displays that feature items marketed toward a specific demographic can sometimes increase impulse buying.

A key part of shopper marketing involves identifying different shopping demographics and learning more about how shoppers in general behave. Research on shopping has provided a wealth of information about how people make buying decisions in retail environments. It has also provided shopper profiles, ranging from people who are very focused and who rely on a highly specific shopping list to casual browsers.

Some shoppers have very specific shopping lists that they won't deviate from, while others prefer to casually browse the supermarket aisles and purchase what they need or want when they see it.
Some shoppers have very specific shopping lists that they won't deviate from, while others prefer to casually browse the supermarket aisles and purchase what they need or want when they see it.

By identifying different types of shoppers and their behaviors, marketers can develop targeted marketing which is intended to speak directly to specific demographics. People tend to respond the most to advertising which feels personalized and may feel more of a connection with brands which attempt to strike a personal note. With shopper marketing, the goal is to reach out to people as they shop to encourage them to buy specific products and to build brand loyalty over time.

Candy displayed in grocery store checkout aisles is a type of shopper marketing.
Candy displayed in grocery store checkout aisles is a type of shopper marketing.

Shopper marketing includes product packaging, in store displays, cooperative advertising in which manufacturers and retailers share advertising costs, brand marketing, and carefully targeted sales. A key aspect of shopper marketing is that it involves collaboration between manufacturers and retailers. For example, a manufacturer might do a promotion with a specific retailer which encourages people to buy its products at that retailer's stores, providing cross-promotion for brands, products, and retailers at the same time.

Shopper marketing entails marketing to customers in the purchasing environment, such as a retail store.
Shopper marketing entails marketing to customers in the purchasing environment, such as a retail store.

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