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Shopper Marketing: Debunking a Universal Truth in Retailing

For nearly 20 years, retailers have been told more than 70% of purchasing decisions happen at the shelf edge. A new book on shopper marketing says it’s a dangerous oversimplification of in-store behaviour. Is it time for retailers to abandon what has become a universal truth and rethink how to entice the modern shopper?

The Shopper Marketing Revolution by Toby Desforges and Mike Anthony tackles what is becoming an increasingly complicated part of consumer goods marketing, attracting shoppers and convincing them to purchase. It makes a good case for why retailers need to take a new approach to store promotions and urges them to rethink their path to purchase model. As technology and consumer behaviour advances at almost mercurial speed, they argue the traditional marketing ‘funnel’ more closely resembles a long and winding road. It also means your tickets, signs and shelf-edge labels are more important than ever.

The book describes a path-to-purchase framework consisting of seven steps. As consumers are now driving the shopping experience – and often from a mobile device – a lot of purchasing decisions are happening before the shopper enters your store. This is one of the biggest reasons the 70% statistic is no longer accurate; consumers are shopping differently and making purchasing decisions in a way they haven’t before.

7 steps to purchase

In the shopper marketing path-to-purchase model, the shopper doesn’t get to your store until the fifth step. Many of these people will have already made purchasing decisions before they've encountered a single shelf edge.

  1. Consumers demand
  2. Shopper’s interpretation
  3. Shopper’s needs
  4. Outlet selection
  5. Solution location
  6. Product selection
  7. Purchase

By the time your shoppers hit the shelf edge, they’ve identified a need, decided what they want, done their research, and determined the retailer most likely to sell the product. If it can be done conveniently, they might even make their purchase online. For those consumers who don’t purchase online, they must then locate the products in the store and decide which product to buy. To complicate things even further, this path might be totally different for different products in the same shopping cart. 

What this means for retailers

More than ever before, your store promotions and shelf-edge tickets have to provide information the shopper needs to make decisions. It’s no longer enough to display the price and hope for the best. Consumers are influenced by signs and tickets and are looking for guidance in their decision-making process. An attractive, informative sign at the shelf edge convinces them to purchase.

If you’re like to know more about how to influence the modern shopper with better signs and tickets, make sure to contact us. We have a wealth of experience doing just that.

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