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In Search of Shopper Intimacy

by Jim Brown , 20.03.2012

Closing the Capability Gap

In Search of Shopper Intimacy

The value of developing an integrated understanding of the consumer and the shopper is undeniable. Combining the voice of the shopper into brand and category plans is rapidly becoming a cost of entry for successful trading relationships.

The good news is that consumer goods companies are embracing the power of shopper marketing like never before. Ninety-five percent of those responding to the 2011 FutureScope survey from GfK Shopper & Retail Strategy are actively engaged in shopper marketing, with more than eight of ten (82%) saying the emerging discipline is vital to their company’s success. Half of the respondents say shopper marketing is driving innovation, and more than six of ten (63%) say it is driving collaboration with retailers.

The online survey polled over 300 industry practitioners representing retail, food, beverage, personal care, healthcare, beauty, general merchandise and electronics. The survey was established in 2006 to profile the attitudes, approaches, and best practices of practitioners as they activate shopper marketing.

What most shopper marketing boosters forget is that shopper intimacy fuels the success of the process. In other words, a robust shopper insights foundation is key.

For most companies, there is a shopper insights capability gap. Only half of respondents (48%) to the survey say their company’s shopper insights foundation is strong. Meanwhile, nine of ten (88%) say shopper insights are “important” or “extremely important.”

Closing shopper insight gaps is critical to better market performance and stronger retailer partnerships. The challenge is that shopper intimacy is increasingly elusive. The purchase decision process has changed from a simple, linear process of pre-store, in-store, in-aisle to a multi-stage web of evaluating, sourcing, selecting, maximizing, and advocating. Along the way, there is a dizzying array of shopper touch points from online, mail, in-store and word of mouth.

Happily, financial investment in shopper marketing has increased steadily over the last few years, say respondents to the FutureScope survey. About half predict that the process will get significantly more resources and focus over the next two years. The bottom line is that increased budgets will follow as the process becomes more formalized and ingrained in the industry.

In the big picture, shopper marketing is driving new innovative solutions, yielding impressive in-market results. It is the foundation for forging strategic senior-level partnerships, and ensuring long term growth.