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Understanding shoppers is the key to retail success

Understanding shoppers is the key to retail success

Provide value justification

The days of buying what you want when you want it, without so much as a second thought, are over and shoppers want to feel in control of their budget.  They need to be able to justify the money they are spending, both before and after they shop.  That doesn't mean that there isn't any room for treats - there is, but they need to fit within the budget that the shopper has set for themselves.  Retailers and brands need to react to this by justifying the place that they hold in the shopper's basket.  The recent M&S 'Shwop' campaign is a great example of this. Shoppers feel justified in buying a clothing item, knowing that an old item is being donated to Oxfam.  Trusted brands are well-placed to tap into this trend as there is a latent understanding of the value they bring to a shopper.  Brands such as Heinz and Lurpak have built on this by targeting the shopper with emotional language which justifies their place on a shopping list - Heinz has used the label on tomato ketchup bottles to declare it "Your secret ingredient" while Lurpak tells shoppers that "Good food deserves Lurpak".

Show trust to achieve trust

Trust in previously well regarded institutions has been tumbling and retailers and brands are not immune to this - illustrated by the popularity of pound stores and brought to life in Aldi's current campaign which questions whether shoppers really need to spend money on branded goods.  Both retailers and brands can fight back by creating an open relationship with shoppers and entrusting them to make the right choice.  This means owning up to the fact that a brand can be 'flawsome' - it might not always get things right but it's willing to listen and react to what shoppers want.  Starbucks has 'my Starbucks idea' where they listen and respond to customer feedback and action popular requests.  Walker's have also successfully tapped into this when they asked shoppers to help them design a new flavour.  Good retailers have also reacted to this by understanding how they should talk to their shoppers, for instance, gone are the days when a shopper will trust a price drop message at face value. 

Use technology wisely

Whilst retailers and brands tend to work across retail channels in silo, shoppers see only one purchase journey.  They demand the best price and information everywhere and seamlessly cross between a retailer's website, mobile site and the actual store.  Forward thinking retailers have responded to this with solutions such as allowing shoppers to buy online and collect instore, understanding that shoppers are busy but will buy if it's made easy for them.  These retailers only use technology it if will help a shopper and are rewarded by a shopper's loyalty.

Allow for personalised shopping

As high streets have become more homogenous, so shoppers have begun to look for a more personalised shopping experience with their favourite retailers and brands.  Starbucks' recent innovation around adding your name to your coffee is a great example of this - they may be the biggest coffee shop brand in the world but they still want to take the time to know your name.

Putting time into understanding shoppers and their purchase barriers can reap rewards for brands.  At a time when every pound a shopper spends needs to be fought for I think it's a wise investment.

Victoria White Joint head of shopper marketing

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