For those new to working in the shopper marketing space, I sometimes think that our obsession with understanding the shopper versus the consumer might seem a bit strange. Aren’t they one and the same?
The answer varies widely depending on the product and the usage situation. In some instances, there is in fact no real difference between the two. If the shopper is a hungry uni student who grabs a chocolate bar at the supermarket checkout and devours it two minutes later, then the needs, wants and thoughts of the shopper and the consumer are arguably one and the same.
However, if the shopper is a busy mum who needs to pick up a quick and healthy dinner for her family, the consumers (her children) are likely to have completely different wants and needs (delicious and unhealthy, perhaps!). On top of this, that same mum will be in a totally different shopping mindset when she is enjoying some relaxed Sunday morning window-shopping on her own, than when she is racing through the supermarket at 5pm on a weeknight.
To take this a step further, what if the consumer is her dog? In this situation it’s easy to see how understanding and talking to the shopper, not the consumer, is vital. When choosing a brand of dental treat for her dog, the shopper will be working through a raft of emotional needs (wanting to show love for her ‘fur baby’) and rational needs (wanting to avoid the vet bills that come with gum disease, whilst not wanting to add too much to her weekly grocery spend). The dog, on the other hand, just wants a treat, any treat, and preferably now!
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to understanding the varying mindsets of the shopper versus the consumer, but it’s territory that can’t be ignored. By merging this understanding with an equal regard for the demands of the trade and the marketplace in which the product plays, we’re able to define actionable insights that connect and drive lasting behavioural change. If you’d like to learn more about your shoppers, get in touch.