The pandemic has disrupted nearly every routine in our day-to-day life. It has forced us to give up some of our most engrained habits, not least of all, how we shop. A recent Nielsen IQ study revealed that 7 in 10 consumers around the world have changed the way they buy categories and brands as a result of the pandemic.
To keep up with or even, importantly, to influence those changes, companies must leverage deep consumer and shopper insights. This unusual time is indeed a unique opportunity to position your product and brand to support and understand consumers where they are now, and that will lead to long term growth.
Sharon Yourell Lawlor, MD and owner of Think Plan Do Consulting is a strategic consumer & shopper marketing specialist who recently spoke to our team about the 4 strategic pillars that form the foundation of an effective shopper marketing strategy.
1.A Consumer and Shopper Centric Approach.
As the famous quote goes, “you can’t understand someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” Much of what shopper marketers need to understand becomes evident when you place yourself on the shop floor and view things from the consumers’ perspective. Try and imagine their lifestyle, what their pain points are and what time pressures they may have to deal with. Ask yourself what demands their attention and what needs are they looking to fulfil? Then think how your product can help deliver the ideal solution. Align your brand message to consumers’ mind-sets.
It is also important to consider the customer lifecycle.
Awareness: Be aware of what your audience needs and communicate how your product is able to address this need
Knowledge: What information can you provide that shifts it from a push strategy to a pull strategy?
Consideration: Once you are in the target audience’s consideration set, they may discuss
it with family and friends prior to making the purchases. The opinions of peers will influence the purchasing decision.
Select & Buying: Understand the difference between the consumer insights when they are in a shopping mind-set and apply these insights to influence their purchase decisions.
Satisfaction: Did their experience of the product match or exceed their expectations?
Retention & Loyalty: If they are satisfied, they are more likely to repurchase or to recommend the brands to family and friends
Advocacy: They will promote and advocate for the brands they love.
Ultimately, it is about “understanding how one’s target consumers behave as shoppers, in different channels and formats, and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, as defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers.”
There are both macro and micro factors that influence consumers’ trends. Looking at the larger macro trends, we would focus on the global factors that may be a driving force of changing consumer behaviour. For example, environmental factors will inform the need by consumers to ensure that their buying decisions aid, rather than harm, the environment. This has given rise to the sustainability trend. These larger macro trends tend to ultimately inform how consumers express themselves through their purchasing decisions.
Finding the actionable insights enables shopper marketers to tap into the motivations of why consumers shop the way they do, and it has to be done on a category-by-category basis.
Consumer’s decisions are rarely linear and there are multiple factors that come into consideration. For example, consumers can have mental shopping lists, they can impulse buy, they may be influenced by seasonal factors or buying cycles, they may be following a trend, like health and wellness for example, and some may focus purely on quality or price.
If shopper marketers are able to tap into the consumers’ motivations, this provides an actionable insight which can lead to market growth.
3. Category Growth Strategies
There are 4 levers to drive category growth which include:
1- Drive shopper penetrations: To attract more buyers. While traditional media may be an obvious choice, social media and the use of online influencers can be a highly effective way to increase desirability and drive the intent to purchase.
2- Increase weight of purchase: Getting buyers to purchase more, offers like 2 for 1, this works well when a product is in an expandable category like chocolate.
3- Increase frequency of sale: Use the opportunity to showcase ideas of different ways for the consumer to use the product.
4- Drive added value purchase: Brands are able to add value in multiple ways, such as added ingredients which change the product slightly and give it an appealing edge.
An increased dwell time in-store also enhances consumer spending.
4. Added Value.
In order to drive growth within a category you need to challenge what the triggers and barriers are in the category. Finding and creating opportunities for synergies with adjacent categories can lead to great growth solutions. Working collaboratively with retailers to add value and growth in the category as a whole can be lucrative for all concerned.
The end goal is to deliver the quadruple win; for the consumers, the shopper the customer (who sells the goods) and the supplier.
While the recent rate of change in shopper habits has been expedited due to the pandemic, many of the changes will outlast the pandemic. The way we shop continues to evolve, influenced by the socio, economic, environmental, and technological factors that influence human behaviour. Business and brands that aim to understand this human behaviour in all its complexity are best set to thrive in this next normal towards which we are emerging.