With one of the UK's biggest gifting occasions just behind us and another – Valentines Day – only six weeks away, brands and retailers are being advised to focus more of their marketing and activation activity on shoppers rather than consumers.

Bridgethorne, the customer, category management and shopper marketing specialist, says that, based on last year's Valentine's Day, it is possible the Britons will spend in the region of £975 million on their wives, husbands and prospective partners on Valentine's Day gifts, going out and weekends away. The size of the spend means greater focus has to be made on those actually making the purchasing decisions.

"In recent years the melting pot of short and long term trends has created an environment where the shopper is now in a position of greater power," explains Bridgethorne co-founder John Nevens. "This power shift has been steady and sustained, away from the major brands and suppliers, who used to hold all the aces, through the major retail multiples and now to the shopper."

To understand this, says Nevens, suppliers need to accept two important facts: first, your consumers are different to your shoppers and second, that YOUR shoppers are different from the retailer's shoppers.

"Everyone must understand that that shopper's needs are always different to the consumer's needs. Take, for example, a guy buying perfume for his girlfriend or wife on Valentine's Day. The girlfriend's consideration set might be that of the scent and personal image. However, as a 'shopper' the boyfriend will likely be influenced by entirely different needs and motivations…price, promotion, display, what the brand he chooses says to his girlfriend about him. He, in this example, is the one who will make the final purchasing decision, whether in-store or online. However, if he is confronted only by consumer messages, rather than shopper messages, they will never resonate with him and will have little impact upon his purchase decision. Understanding what drives the shopper, the missions they take when they buy and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions is central to long term commercial effectiveness."

A High Street by Jeff Taylor © The Economic Voice LimitedBridgethorne says that 'SHOPPERISM', its new approach to 'Integrated Shopper Management', advises simple processes that can be put in place by suppliers to ensure the shopper is properly catered for in marketing and activation activity.

"Failure to acknowledge and address the strategic role of 'Your Shopper' as the bridge between marketing and sales activation means suppliers cannot be certain they are reaching the right people, with the right message and at the right time and place. If this is the case, it must mean that a supplier's activation activity and the use of their budget must be less than optimal. It could mean it is, at best, not being spent as effectively as it might; at worst, it could be completely wasted."

Bridging this gap by understanding, targeting and engaging with shoppers is clearly critical, says Nevens. Suppliers need to focus more on the shopper's journey to the point of purchase. Failure to create a strategic role for the shopper both in their planning and alongside the consumer in the culture of their company means they are not giving themselves the best chance of success.

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