Chapter XII – What Is A Shopper Insight?

Understanding how shoppers behave along the path to purchase and what exactly makes them buy a certain brand is at the very heart of shopper marketing.

Thus, shopper insights provide the basis for shopper marketing. They are the starting point for any effective campaign.

But what are shopper insights actually?

A shopper insight is 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).

English language Oxford Dictionaries defines an insight as “the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing“¹.

Thus, shopper insights require a deep understanding of:

  • How shoppers behave along the entire path to purchase
  • What stimuli trigger shoppers to consider a brand for purchase
  • What criteria are ultimately applied to meet the final purchasing decision

Shopper insights can be generated at a brand, category, retailer and shopper level:

a) Brand level: Coca-Cola El Salvador realized that most on-the-go shoppers demand their Coca-Cola to come in a plastic bag to save the refund for returnable bottles.

Consequently, store owners opened a bottle, purred the beverage into a plastic bag and handed it together with a straw to customers. As on-the-go consumption represents roughly 80% of the company’s sale in El Salvador, Coca-Cola together with Ogilvy developed a branded biodegradable plastic package².

The new packaging not only saved store owners a laborious task but also helped to ensure hygiene and quality standards. The bag was then promoted in the on-the-go channel achieving immediate acceptance among CocaCola‘s clients and consumers. Due to the success of the campaign, it was implemented in neighbouring and other emerging countries.

Please click on the link if you would like to read more on How to use shopper marketing to target low-income customers.


b) Category level: Kimberly-Clark realized that shoppers´ number one product attribute for tissues is softness. Based on this insight, Kimberly-Clark created the Softness Worth Sharing campaign for Kleenex tissues. During flu season, shoppers were encouraged to buy a box of Kleenex tissues and send them as a gift to their loved ones. On the brands Facebook fan site, shoppers could also send a virtual box of tissues.

Also cross-category insights can be beneficial. Kimberly-Clark for example discovered that shoppers buying canned soup are likely to suffer from a cold. Consequently, the company offered coupons for its Kleenex tissues exclusively to shoppers who had previously scanned canned soup using Ahold’s Scan It! system³.


c) Retailer level: IKEA US was facing an intriguing problem in recent years. Although shoppers liked the company’s furniture design, they usually ended up buying smaller items on sale postponing the purchase of bigger-ticket items. To increase ticket size, IKEA  arranged products in a way that teaches shoppers to perceive a room in its totality. Instead of selling items separately, the focus switched to selling completely designed “rooms” (solutions).

To accomplish this change in perception, IKEA successfully modified its communication along the entire path to purchase. Print and online ads as well as in-store communication promoted entire rooms thus, visualizing the dramatic effect of redesigning your home.

Also consult our post “Shopper Solution Of The Month (June) – IKEA” for more information.


d) Shopper level: Nestlé realized that affluent shoppers, aged 25 to 39 years, tend to reduce calorie-intake by opting for low-calorie beverages. The company used this insight to create its Nature´s Fix campaign promoting its six regional sparkling spring water brands. The campaign used heavily social media and banner ads leveraging the brands’ Facebook fan sites to offer shoppers downloadable coupons. In-store, Nestlé relied on floor graphics, shelf banners and shopping cart ads.

The campaign resulted in “an average weekly fan growth of 14.32% within four months; in one day, more than 7,000 coupons were downloaded from Facebook“⁴.



Shopper insights are fundamental to shopper marketing as they represent the insight upon which a retailer and/ or manufacturer can act. Understanding how shoppers behave along the path to purchase, what stimuli make them consider brands for purchase, and how they ultimately decide on which brand to buy is vital for any company who wants to initiate successful shopper marketing campaigns.

Moreover, a deep understanding of shoppers helps manufacturers to create effective retailer-specific programs and hence, fosters a strong collaboration with partners. As mentioned in our previous post “Clash of the Titans – How FMCG can compensate for retailers’ head start in Shopper Marketing”, manufacturers can specialize in certain areas of shopper marketing and use this expertise to become more attractive for retailers. If manufacturers choose to share valuable shopper insights they accumulated, retailers will reward them accordingly.


Chapter XIII is dedicated to how to generate shopper insights.


For more information on shopper marketing campaigns based on shopper insights, please consult our Shopper Solution Of The Month section.

Click here for the complete table of content.


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6 Responses to Chapter XII – What Is A Shopper Insight?

  1. Hi, you have some really cool articles here, i really like the Coke story how they used shopper insights to help overcome a problem for traders and consumers whilst keeping thier brand in front of others. These are the nuggets which all brands should look for.

    • Dear Brad,

      Thank you for your comment! I had a look at your website and I really like how you incorporate shopper insights to your approach for retail marketing. Continously improving execution at the POS by constantly recollecting shopper insights gives you and your clients a competitive advantage. Congrats!



  2. kevin collins says:

    Interesting but not ‘complete’ – You really should look at the Saatchi & Saatchi Shopper cycle as its structure would really help structure your thinking.

  3. Johannes–Appreciate your comprehensive outline of 4 critical types of shopper insights. Thanks for the real-world examples as well!

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