Demystifying Shopper Marketing to Win Customers 


In today’s competitive consumer goods landscape, shopper marketing is crucial to your brand’s success. Shopper Marketing encompasses a wide range of strategies and tactics aimed at influencing consumer buyer behaviour, ultimately leading to increased conversions and brand equity. 

But in a rapidly evolving retail landscape, what exactly is Shopper Marketing? How is it distinct from consumer marketing? Or retail marketing? Or indeed, trade marketing? And in an ecommerce setting, isn’t it just digital marketing? 

In this blog post, we’ll demystify Shopper Marketing. Whether you are a marketing professional, an entrepreneur, or a business owner, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and inspiration needed to create impactful Shopper Marketing strategies. 

Get ready to explore how to create compelling experiences that resonate with shoppers and ultimately influence purchasing decisions!

What is Shopper Marketing?

The clue is in the name. Shopper Marketing is “the use of insights-driven marketing and merchandising initiatives to satisfy the needs of targeted shoppers, enhance the shopping experience and improve business results and brand equity for retailers and manufacturers”, according to the Retail Commission on Shopper Marketing.  


So, Shopper Marketing aims to improve business results through insightled, shoppercentric marketing and merchandising. It’s about constructing data-led buyer journeys and then mapping strategic and tactical marketing to those journeys in a way that leads to and integrates with the bottom of the funnel (and your bottom line). 

It can of course include Retail Marketing, Consumer Marketing, and top-of-funnel Brand Marketing – but only where these integrate with the shopper’s buyer journey. Knowing when and where these apply means KNOWING YOUR SHOPPER. 


1. The shopper isn’t (always) the consumer. 


Sometimes the consumer and the shopper (or buyer) are the same person. But often they are not. I know for a fact my mother wouldn’t have put Coco-Pops in her trolley had it not been for my not-so-subtle reminders as a child.


Her motivations as the shopper were vastly different from mine as the consumer. She wanted a healthy child, but also a moment’s peace, and I just wanted delicious chocolatey goodness for breakfast.  


The marketing messages for these two audiences is where the distinction between Shopper and Consumer Marketing lies. Consumer marketing creates awareness and desire among influencers who in turn exert pressure on buyers (in this instance, in the form of incessant nagging). Buyers, on the other hand, need reminders in store, and help overcoming sales objections at the point-of-purchase (nutritional assurances relative to children’s cereal, and price promotions, for instance). 


This example makes clear the importance of both Consumer and Shopper marketing when it comes to driving sales, and how the two are distinct, but complementary. If marketers failed to recognise the distinction between shoppers and consumers in this example, its easy to imagine the product falling quickly into irrelevance. 


2. The shopper isn’t always the shopper. 


To add complexity, I am only a shopper when it’s my intention to transact, or when there’s proximity to commerce. You could argue that, in the age of ecommerce, every consumer is always a few clicks away from being a shopper and that all marketing should steer consumers into a funnel. True. But if we operate on the assumption that every consumer is a potential shopper all the time, then our marketing budgets will be stretched impossibly thin. 


Given that marketing budgets aren’t infinite (we wish!), there’s merit in understanding buyer journeys and focussing effort and resources where they are most likely to yield results. 

So long as you are thinking about a shopper’s buyer journey, and your marketing tactics fall within a clear path-to-purchase, you are probably engaged in Shopper Marketing.


That’s strategy. When it comes to tactics, some common Shopper Marketing approaches include;
  • Point-of-sale displays: Creating attractive and eye-catching displays near the checkout counters or aisles to grab shoppers’ attention and promote specific products. 
  • In-store promotions: Offering discounts, coupons, or special offers that are exclusive to the retail store, encouraging shoppers to make a purchase. 
  • Sampling and demonstrations: Providing free samples or product demonstrations within the store to allow shoppers to experience the product firsthand and potentially increase their likelihood of buying.  
  • Shelf placement and packaging: Optimising the placement of products on shelves and designing packaging to stand out among competitors and attract consumers. 
  • Loyalty programs: Implementing loyalty programs that offer rewards or incentives to shoppers who make repeat purchases, encouraging customer loyalty. 
  • Digital and mobile engagement: Leveraging technology to engage targeted shoppers through mobile apps, personalised offers, advertising, and social media campaigns.

Shopper Marketing: Benefits

The shopper environment – whether bricks or clicks – plays a significant role in buyer decision-making. It’s estimated that between 72% and 82% of shoppers conclude purchasing decisions in-store (or at point-of-purchase), and according to Shopify, impulse buying accounts for between 40% and 80% of purchases. 


Consumers and buyers become shoppers when they have intent and opportunity to purchase. It’s also at this magic moment that they are most susceptible to influence and persuasion. They’re essentially in a bargain-mindset, ready for a value exchange of hard-earned resources and evaluating their options. If you can demonstrate the most value relative to their needs at that point, you’ve won. 


That’s the power of Shopper Marketing.  


Getting it right means understanding shopper psychology, creating immersive and personalised experiences, and employing targeted strategies tailored to specific consumer segments. It goes beyond traditional marketing approaches by recognising the significance of the retail environment and the power it holds in influencing consumers at the point of purchase. 


The benefits of effective shopper marketing are far-reaching.  


1. Willing buyer, willing seller 


Firstly, it allows brands to connect with consumers on a deeper level by engaging when they are most receptive. This creates opportunities to forge emotional connections and build brand affinity. By understanding shopper motivations and desires, brands can create tailored experiences that resonate with their target audience, leading to increased engagement and loyalty. 


2. A captive audience 


Secondly, shopper marketing enables brands to stand out in a crowded marketplace. By employing creative merchandising techniques, optimising product displays, and utilising compelling storytelling, brands can capture shoppers’ attention and differentiate themselves from competitors. This heightened visibility translates into increased sales and market share. 


3. Closest to the money 


Furthermore, shopper marketing helps brands gain valuable insights into consumer behaviour where it matters most and where its most measurable. Through data analysis, brands can evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns relative to sales, identify areas of improvement, and refine strategies to achieve better results. This data-driven approach allows for informed decision-making, leading to more efficient and targeted marketing efforts. 



In summary, Shopper Marketing is about harnessing the shopper mindset of consumers in retail environments (whether physical or digital) for maximum influence and connection. It’s about understanding buyer journeys and crafting integrated strategies and tactics that move shoppers towards purchase. It has the power to drive sales, foster loyalty, and create memorable interactions that leave lasting impressions.  

It can encompass above-the-line brand marketing, channel-focussed retail marketing and below-the-line consumer marketing – digitally and in physical channels. Given the complexity of today’s buyer journeys, getting it right means partnering with experts in various disciplines – from ecommerce, to data analysts, to promotional marketing agencies like Tradeway. 

We believe in leveraging consumer insights to build compelling below-the-line promotional activations that deliver maximum consumer connection and conversion. Talk to us today about how to incorporate impactful promotions and brand activation tactics into your Shopper Marketing strategy.

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