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The Shopper Relationship Is Critical

August 1, 2012

• The most amazing products, with incredible advertising, in an impeccable store with the perfect assortment are nothing without one critical factor: shoppers. And, today’s shoppers are more unique, demanding and in control than ever before. According to SymphonyIRI’s latest Times & Trends Report (Shopper Marketing: Every Decision Begins & Ends with the Shopper), shoppers make individual decisions about what they will buy, how much they will pay for it and where they will go to get it.
The combination of a vast brick-and-mortar retail space and innumerable internet-based sites means shoppers have endless choices of where and how to shop. Thanks to incredible growth in instant, easily accessible digital, social and mobile communication platforms, shoppers can spend just a few minutes online to gather information that allows them to make smarter choices at home, on-the-go and in the store—and that has fundamentally changed how shoppers interact with companies, products, services and stores.

“To build strong and growing relationships at the individual shopper level, businesses must first transform—across all business levels—from the mass marketing, product siloed thinking of the Industrial Age to the shopper-based culture of the Information Age,” said Jim Dippold, senior vice president, Consumer & Shopper Marketing, SymphonyIRI. “In this new business model, the primary goal is to engage shoppers to become a valuable asset to the business. The key to bolstering this incredible asset is to sell the best shopper as much as possible over their lifetime, rather than simply attempting to sell as many products as possible to as many shoppers as possible.”

One way to further this goal is to develop a growing number of best shoppers and serve these shoppers well by capturing long-term, ideally lifetime, purchases and loyalty. Nurturing genuinely loyal shoppers and expanding the breadth and depth of their purchases will take the business to the next level. Of course, high-performing products are required, but getting them into the hands of the right and best shoppers delivers success.

“To transform into a shopper-centric business, one first needs to recognize a shopper when they come back, whether their return is in person or online,” added Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. “After all, shopper relationships are only possible with individual shoppers, not with markets or segments. Second, a business needs to differentiate its shoppers by their value to the business and the shopper needs the business fulfills. Only then can the business focus its resources on those who will bring in the most value by executing shopper-specific strategies designed to satisfy the quest for unique and impressionable shopper experiences.”

Manufacturers and retailers looking to develop an organization-wide, shopper-focused strategy that creates relevance, builds relationship value and drives sustainable growth should consider the following action items:
  • Shopper Marketing: Both manufacturers and retailers should establish profiles of existing “customers” by creating discrete behavioral segments based upon their habits, purchase response and history with competitors. Manufacturers and retailers should then collaborate with key partners to develop programs that are targeted against the needs/wants of their “common” key shopper segments.
  • Product Marketing: Manufacturers and retailers should communicate with shoppers early and often (in the home, on the web and mobile devices, and in the store) using highly targeted messaging. Retailers should work with manufacturers to develop and manage core product offerings based upon what their priority customers are buying frequently.
  • In-Store Marketing: Manufacturers and retailers should work collaboratively to develop promotional strategies based on the needs, wants and appetite of their “common” best shopper.
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