An understanding of why people do what they do, when and where they do it as shoppers, distinguishes Shopper from other kinds of commercial activity. It’s the reason why it’s called “shopper” marketing. Separating shopper insight from consumer insight — which centers on what people think, not what they do — may require some mental gymnastics. It is not a distinction that comes naturally to everyone, or even most, people. It is, however, a critically important difference.
One of the guiding tenets of Shopper is that it aligns brand and retailer strategies. Today, this is a given, and in fact it was the foundation of co-marketing, which preceded Shopper. Co-marketing, popularized by Chris Hoyt and others at the early 1990s, advanced the then-novel idea that brands and retailers should sit down at the table with a blank sheet of paper and work out a program that satisfied their mutual, long-term goals and objectives.
It’s not that it doesn’t matter how shopper marketing is organized, it’s that it doesn’t seem to matter. Shopper usually is organized in one of two ways: either as an enterprise-wise, cross-disciplinary initiative that is integrated with sales but is a function of marketing, or as a function of sales and category management.
Shopper marketing — or just plain Shopper — was introduced more than ten years ago and is firmly entrenched in the vast majority of consumer packaged-goods companies. Yet a rumbling is now rolling across the landscape that Shopper, for the most part, has failed to live up to its billing as a “third way” between sales and marketing. Rather than being the bridge that joins sales and marketing, it seems to be falling into the gulf that divides them.
The need is for clear-cut industry standards and objectives as to what shopper marketing is and is not, and the training and skill sets to execute against these standards. Unlike category management, which, thanks to Dr. Brian Harris, is based on a very clearly defined and industry-sanctioned eight-step process, shopper marketing is all over the lot.