Chapter II – What Is Shopper Marketing?

In this chapter, we will define shopper marketing, present its various agents, and close by discussing why it matters.

As shopper marketing is a very recent development, there is no agreed-on definition at this very moment. Often it is described as “building the bridge between brand marketing and trade marketing” or “creating a unique shopper experience”. Yet, all these definitions fall short of the holistic nature of shopper marketing.

The most compelling definition can be found in Deloitte’s 2008 Delivering the Promise of Shopper Marketing report:

“Shopper Marketing is the employment of any marketing stimuli, developed based on a deep understanding of shopper behavior [shopper insight], designed to build brand equity, engage the shopper (i.e., an individual in “shopping mode”), and lead him/her to make a purchase.”


A shopper insight in turn is defined as an “insight upon which shopper marketing is based as a focus on the process that takes place between that first thought the consumer has about purchasing an item, all the way through the selection of that item” (Lisa Klauser, Unilever).

For example, a shopper insight might be that shoppers´ number one product attribute for tissues is softness. A shopper marketing campaign for a tissue manufacturer might then communicate the superior softness of its product along the path to purchase to increase shopper engagement and ultimately sales (see Kimberly-Clark’s Softness Worth Sharing campaign).

Matching the purchase decision-making process to traditional marketing concepts, it becomes clear why shopper marketing is often described as bridging the gap between brand marketing and trade marketing. Successful shopper marketing must combine the emotional motivation brand marketer try to create with the action-oriented, more rational drivers trade marketers try to nurture.

Brand marketing and trade marketing no longer work as two independent entities but become intertwined instead.

Also, After Sale Marketing can form part of a shopper marketing campaign. Take for example, Procter&Gamble’s Get Your Game Face On where Gillette razors were placed next to EA’s Madden NFL at Wal-Mart. The razor’s package contained a “secret code” which entitled shoppers to download a strategy guide worth $5 for the popular video game. This brilliant idea might lessen the problem of cognitive dissonance as it positively influences the post-purchase evaluation.

Note: Step 2 and Step 3 of the purchase decision-making process might well be either occurring during the Preshop, during the During Shop, or at both stages at the same time.

Now that we have established what shopper marketing is and distinguished it from other forms of marketing, we should have a look at the agents involved in a shopper marketing campaign.

Most articles are restricted to four agents in shopper marketing, namely the manufacturer, the retailer, the marketing agency, and the shopper.

Nevertheless, these definitions neglect the important role of KOLs (key opinion leaders) and other manufacturers in the process.


Take for example a shopper marketing campaign for a flour manufacturer. They might decide to prepare a shopper solution approach incorporating TV chefs and bloggers (KOLs) in order to promote their product during the Preshop stage and to show potential shoppers the various uses of their product.

At the retailer then, they might employ displays with their product (flour) combined with other ingredients and beverages (other manufacturers) in order to give the shopper an opportunity to acquire all necessary items for preparing a complete dinner. Adding some simple take-away recipes for the most common dishes and we almost got an effective shopper marketing campaign.

Considering the high complexity of shopper marketing, working across departments (from marketing to sales) and collaborating with various external agents (sometimes even other manufacturers), why do retailers and manufacturers actually care?

There are numerous reasons for both retailers and manufacturers why the shift from brand and trade marketing towards shopper marketing is crucial. Shopper behavior changed dramatically since the eighties due to technological advancement such as the internet for example. However, most companies still rely on undated marketing concepts in order to capture the attention of today’s shoppers.

Nowadays, it is the shopper who decides when, where and how to receive marketing messages. We grew up being bombarded with all forms of advertisement and hence, developed sophisticated filters to ignore them. To interrupt a modern shopper, catch her attention and offer her a unique shopping experience requires revolutionary skills traditional brand and trade marketing cannot deliver.

The transformation to shopper marketing hence is not a question of following a new marketing trend but a matter of pure survival in today’s competitive retail environment.


Read in Chapter III how to execute a shopper marketing campaign and how to measure its effectiveness.

Also consult our post Why Shopper Marketing Matters – The Tragic End Of A German Drugstore Giant” to read how neglecting Shopper Marketing brought down a retail giant.

Is Shopper Marketing A Marketing Fad Itself? Read what shoppernewsblog and others think.

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Did you find this chapter helpful?

Please comment so we can continuously improve the content.


Sorensen, H. (2011). Inside the mind of the shopper – The science of retailing, Eighth Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Stahlberg, M. (2012). Shopper Marketing – How to Increase Purchase Decisions at the Point of Sale, Second Edition. London, England: Kogan Page Limited.

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