Uncovering the Missing Link in Shopper Marketing
A considerable amount of the explainable variation in shopping behavior actually has more to do with changes occurring in Food Culture than it does with things happening in the store. It is my belief that if you are in the food business, it is critical that you really understand food. This means you must understand all about how people eat. Looking through the lens of how people eat exposes the fundamental flaw with today’s food marketing and shopper insights practices: These practices focus almost exclusively on where and how people shop. While this transaction-based data has been extensively analyzed, the drivers of shopping behavior are not fully understood.
We have long believed that a more in-depth understanding of the emotional drivers of eating occasions linked to the shopping experience would provide insights and opportunities to connect food companies and retailers even closer to consumers and shoppers. This is precisely what led to the Hartman Group’s development of a new way of thinking, or what we call Occasion-Based Marketing.
Occasion-Based Marketing is about knowing the right context. People do not consume according to demographics or segments. People consume based on occasions. Occasions are the cultural context that surrounds need states and gives marketers the ability to be truly relevant with consumers and shoppers. Because of this, shoppers choose different categories and brands based on the occasion.
Occasion-based strategy offers cultural context to marketing and innovation based on real category culture, driven by:
- Trendsetters—consumers, shoppers
- Specialized media/blogosphere
- Specialty retailers
- Mainstream media
- Mainstream retailers
Connecting Eating Occasions to Shopping
The evolving changes occurring in food culture have fundamentally changed the way people shop for foods and beverages. This explains, in large part, the blurring of channels as shoppers move seamlessly through a wide array of store types and across multiple product categories. America’s mainstream grocery retailers are fighting battles on many fronts: the restaurant has invaded the grocery store, drug and convenience stores have taken on more food categories (even venturing into fresh prepared foods).
The redefinition of quality has led to the long-term decline in categories with the processed halos. Most of the highly processed center store categories are on steady downward trend line. An increasing number of American consumers are consuming prepared, ready-to-heat and -eat foods. Our Hartman Eating Occasions Compass research finds 17 percent of adult eating occasions involve same-day purchase of food/beverage, most of it within an hour of consumption.
No longer can we afford to restrict our attention on discounting and price-based promotions to fight product, brand and channel switching. While the current recession reinforces this traditional marketing mindset, we believe that Occasion-Based Marketing is an alternative way to win consumers and influence shoppers.
Occasion-based shopper marketing is all about starting with everyday cultural understandings of food that drive what shoppers think when they enter a food retail environment. It’s about making sure that good shopper marketing for foods and beverage never forgets to connect directly with the joy of eating.
About the author
Harvey Hartman – Founder and CEO, Hartman Group, Inc. and author of “A Brand Called Hope”
With a penchant for seeing what others cannot, Harvey Hartman received national recognition in America for accurately predicting the shifts in consumer behavior that would drive the sustainability, wellness and organic movements into mainstream prominence across the food and beverage marketplace. He is an author, business school lecturer and former Fortune 500 senior executive. His passionate belief in a consumer-driven marketplace paved the way for the Hartman Group to become synonymous with providing unique provocative consumer perspectives of measurable value to clients. Harvey has authored three marketing texts, the most recent being A Brand Called Hope: Reimagining Consumer Culture, which explores food culture and today’s consumer-driven interpretations of quality.