The shopping list is the Holy Grail for marketers. The more specific (brand name, flavour/scent, packaging, size, etc.) the consumer is, the better. However, “making the list” is only a means to an end. Marketers need to do everything in their power to make sure the consumer executes on their shopping list.
Shopper research usually focuses on understanding how the consumers shop, when they shop, and why they shop. A knowledge gap exists in also the identification of why a consumer “stops” – specifically, why a consumer fails to execute on a particular item in his/her shopping list. Smart marketers ask the following questions:
1) Why didn’t a consumer purchase something on his/her “list?”
2) What did the consumer purchase instead of the listed item?
3) What was the consumer’s work-around/intention for not purchasing the listed item? This knowledge will help marketers proactively plan for some of the shopping “road bumps.”
Typically, in-store media and the lack of appealing choices (package size and price) are common road bumps and deterrents to shoppers’ objectives. A hang-tag on a competitive product might persuade the shopper to purchase Dove vs. Olay soap this shopping trip vs. most trips. An out-of-stock 24-pack (vs. the on-shelf 12-pack) of Evian might persuade the shopper to postpone this specific purchase until she visits the warehouse club next weekend. And, a side comment from a Whole Foods employee about the merits and authenticity of a packaged rice pilaf mix might actually persuade the shopper to create the side dish herself.
Obviously, as marketers, we can’t control the settings in which shoppers shop (with the exception of web presence and branded store environments). However, marketers should do everything to understand how the environment ultimately impacts the shopping behaviour. Regular review of in-store media activity, branded and store label competitive pressures, and pricing fluctuations should be routinely analyzed along with scanner data. In-store consumer behaviour (whether via a complicated, neurological device or via the professional eye of a trained market researcher) should be observed to see what happens at-home, in-store, at-shelf, and ultimately, at the cash register. The path to purchase is lined with many road bumps; marketers need to understand how to help navigate shoppers to success.
About the Author
AnnaMaria Turano is a partner and Executive Director with MCAworks, LLC – a strategic consultancy based in Westport, CT. AnnaMaria leads client engagements across a diverse set of industries including financial services, food/beverage, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and software. She has helped companies develop and roll-out strong customer value propositions and strategic plans as well as identify new opportunities for growth via new products, new targets, and new geographies.
AnnaMaria is co-author of Stopwatch Marketing (Portfolio: 2008) and is also a featured contributing author to Shopper Marketing (Kogan: 2009).
AnnaMaria holds both an M.B.A. and a B.A. from the University of Chicago. She has taught marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business and Fordham University; she is currently an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Tampa.