What Every Brand Should Know About Shopper Marketing

Dec 23, 2021 — Markerly Editorial Team, 6 min read

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When it comes to developing a social media marketing plan, one of the most important strategies to consider is how to integrate it with your shopper marketing strategy. While many brand marketing campaigns focus on increasing awareness, shopper marketing specifically focuses on tactics that are going to drive in-person, in-store sales — quite often at the last moment before they check out of a store.

Effective shopper marketing is seen everywhere from grocery stores and Walmart to online e-commerce brands.

By understanding key elements of a successful shopper marketing strategy, you can increase sales with a high-impact marketing mix.

What Is Shopper Marketing?

Shopper marketing: Bottles on store shelf

Shopper marketing is how brands reach customers while they are in the actual act of shopping. As such, it encompasses the entire in-store experience, including displays, the store layout, and even the store’s overall ambiance.

The term shopper marketing is typically used in reference to consumer packaged goods (CPG). These are items you would typically see while browsing your local grocery store, Target, or Walmart, such as food, clothing, and cosmetics. 

While consumer goods associated with shopper marketing are primarily purchased in-store rather than online, that is changing. Fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, online grocery shopping is expected to reach revenue of $24 billion by 2023, making up roughly 9.5% of the total grocery retail. Not surprisingly, these numbers are expected to see continued growth in coming years.

As a result, while shopper marketing continues to be primarily focused on the in-store experience, marketing teams are now looking to how they can better implement digital marketing strategies to create online touchpoints and gain better shopper insights.

Which Marketing Activities Make Up Shopper Marketing?

Couple shopping at grocery store

In today’s world, successful shopper marketing campaigns must account for both in-person and online interactions — especially in a time when the point of sale for many consumer goods takes place on a laptop or smartphone. According to research from McKinsey and Company, between 60-70% of shoppers across all product categories are expected to do their CPG shopping and product research both online and in-store.

As a result, successful shopper marketing doesn’t focus exclusively on in-store merchandising, nor does it fully rely on social media and SEO. It uses all of these resources to ensure that brand marketing messages will reach shoppers no matter where they are.

In-Store Displays

In-store displays have a powerful influence on shopper behavior. Shopping can be time-consuming and stressful, and many shoppers will look at displays at the end of grocery aisles or in the middle of larger areas to streamline their trip with seasonal or sale items.

Just like when browsing through Instagram, shoppers tend to have short attention spans, particularly if they are focused on finishing their list. Displays need to be visually attractive or engaging to grab their attention — like when soda companies have their bottles or cans arranged to look like a jack-o-lantern, basketball hoop, or the American flag.

The right placement can make all the difference in persuading a shopper to add an item to their cart. There’s a reason why “impulse buy” items (like cheap candy) are placed right before the checkout counter! 

Tip: Feature sale items prominently in an in-store display. It’s an easy way to move higher volumes of the products you’re actively promoting.

Product Demonstrations

When most people think of product demonstrations, they likely imagine membership-driven big box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. Shoppers will usually be treated to free samples of featured food products as they walk the aisles.

The ability to “try before you buy” can go a long way in reducing a shopper’s perceived risk associated with trying a new product. When shoppers try something they especially like, they are much more likely to add it to their cart, even if it wasn’t originally on their list. One study by The Atlantic found that in some cases, free samples boosted individual product sales by as much as 2,000%.

Online brands are adopting this process as well, particularly for higher-value purchases. For example, many mattress retailers will offer 100-night (or even 1-year) sleep trials, giving shoppers ample time to test out a new mattress, while still having the option to get a full refund if it’s not a good fit.

Tip: Offer accessible demonstrations that are suitable for your product. For example, a donut shop could give out free samples while baking fresh donuts. A furniture maker shouldn’t be afraid to let guests sit on chairs and couches. A sample product or experience will go a long way in shaping shopper perceptions.

Social Media

Influencer campaigns can be a powerful way to promote interest in a brand — but they can also be used to drive direct sales. Sponsored Instagram posts can provide links to take users to an e-commerce site, or they could even allow users to buy a product directly through Instagram.

Social media can also help drive in-store sales. Geo-targeting social media ads can ensure that relevant ads are getting placed in user’s feeds when they are near (or inside) a physical store where they might buy a specific product. If a shopper happens to be scrolling through Instagram before or during their shopping trip, seeing an ad could be enough to influence their in-store behavior.

Tip: Review your current social media campaign, particularly in regards to geo-targeting. Simply changing your ad targeting to focus on ZIP codes where there are stores selling your products can help you better reach shoppers while they are making decisions.

The Shopping Experience

Whether online or in-store, the overall shopping experience can play just as important a role in driving sales as a traditional ad engagement. 

For example, after clicking on an Instagram ad, an individual is much more likely to buy something if they can complete the purchase with as few clicks or taps as possible. A page that loads slowly or has broken links will drive shoppers away, while a fast-loading, attractively designed page that offers secure checkout will gain their trust — and their dollars.

Similarly, the in-store shopping experience can be directly influenced by the building’s ambiance. Lighting, cleanliness, and crowds are just a few of the in-store factors that can define a shopper’s experience for better or worse.

Tip: Conduct a website audit to make sure your site is offering a streamlined experience for shoppers. Google’s PageSpeed Insights runs a quick diagnostic to analyze your site’s performance and highlight any changes you should make.

Using Data to Drive Successful Shopper Marketing Campaigns

Woman compares pie charts on phone to charts on laptop

Understanding shoppers and what drives their purchasing behavior is vital for any of your marketing efforts to be successful.

Fortunately, we live in a time when marketers can more easily obtain insights about shopper behaviors and adjust their campaigns accordingly.

Shopper marketing campaigns seek to understand their customers on an individual level. This is why you see grocery stores send customized coupons to rewards programs members based on their previous shopping habits. Many e-commerce brands have adopted similar habits, using a customer’s previous purchases to guide emails and other marketing outreach.

Because today’s brands need to exist both online and offline, SEO monitoring, content monitoring, and social media monitoring have all begun to play a larger role in helping companies understand what their consumers want. Google Analytics tools for your websites and Instagram’s social media analytics are easy starting points to understand how shoppers engage with your brand online.

Understanding what shoppers are looking for, what content they engage with, and how they interact with your website can unlock powerful insights into the types of messaging and experiences that will be most appealing for them. By understanding shopper behaviors and preferences, brands can tailor their marketing mix to better drive awareness and sales.

For example, by understanding which social media posts get the most engagement, you can adjust your content strategy to produce more of these types of posts in the future. Something as simple as asking a question in a post or using certain types of images could make a big impact on a post’s engagement — something you can learn from your analytics.

Implementing Shopper Marketing in Your Campaigns

Shopper marketing: Person looks at payment details on phone while using credit card

Social media can play a crucial role in influencing shopper behavior. You’d be amazed at how often people are scrolling through Instagram while going through the grocery store. By combining geo-targeted social posts with other retail marketing efforts, you can build your brand equity and get new shoppers to pay attention to your marketing messages.

Markerly can enhance this process with integrated campaign management, providing high-value social content that complements the marketing activities you already have in place. By reaching customers at the point of purchase and beyond, you will increase sales and awareness to drive stronger results for your brand.

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