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It doesn’t take much time in stores to see that marketers still don’t understand shoppers. Verbose communication and user-unfriendly displays intended to attract shoppers demonstrate missed opportunities that result from using traditional consumer research methodologies rather than progressive shopper thinking. The challenge is to ensure that the dialogue we share with shoppers is not only relevant to their lives but meaningful to their present shopping mission.  So without further ado, here are 5 rules to be more effective in-store.

  1. Know who’s buying. Define the differences between the consumer and shopper – yes, they may be the same person but we need to understand whether they are the same person in different modes (as most of us are in a store versus relaxing on a couch) or are indeed two different people (the shopper fulfilling the shopping mission on behalf of their consumer counterpart). This is a key component of the mission and an important factor in whether the store meets those needs.

  2. Know what they do. Appreciate the different ways to extract consumer and shopper insights, and how and when the two need to be seen alongside each other. Consumer research measuring the strength of the relationship between consumer and brand can reveal a lot about the behaviour likely to be displayed by shoppers in the category.  Shoppers often don’t recall their behaviour in-store and if prompted to explain, tend to post-rationalise it to an interviewer. Knowledge of actual shopper behaviour is therefore critical to understanding the shopper and how best to engage them. Which leads to our next rule…

  3. Be present and be curious. To successfully communicate with our shoppers, we need to witness what they do first-hand. Get out of the office and into the store. This is a necessary step in the process, and you will be amazed at what you experience by simply watching shoppers. If the opportunity arises, initiate a conversation with the shopper. You may find that your best day at the office will, in fact, be in the store.

  4. Walk a mile in your shopper’s shoes. Refrain from developing a shopper strategy in the absence of reliable data and insights—intuition is a dangerous and rather seductive alternative. If you are cut from the same cloth as Steve Jobs, then (and only then) you might feel comfortable using intuition, but for the rest of us, nothing can replace an intimate shopper understanding. A great example is the Tesco Home Plus subway virtual store created in Seoul, South Korea, which was borne out of an intimate understanding of the shopper in Seoul, who is time poor, yet ‘always on’.  Finding time to shop is a luxury that few can afford.  What better way to get people shopping than to take the store to the time-poor shopper.

  5. Amaze your shopper. The battle being waged in retail today is being won by this ideal—the trick is knowing how to do it. This is far easier for online retailers, as shoppers’ paths through the online store are tracked and easily analysed. What shoppers seek in these spaces generally aligns to price, range, and the speedy fulfilment of orders. For brick and mortar retailers, the ways to inspire shoppers vary much more—it might be utter simplicity of navigation, ideal curation and arrangement, or an experience they can’t get anywhere else. These are the kind of things shoppers connect to on a deep-seated emotional level. So while Amazon is winning shoppers with same-day delivery, Eataly, a vibrant 5,000 square meter Italian marketplace in New York’s flat iron district, is delighting crowds and bringing an authentic Italian food experience to New York. Here’s hoping that Eataly’s rumoured arrival on our shores turns out to be true.

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