Innovación: Developing Shopper Insights
Around this time of year, when I see all the children return to school after a summer vacation, I get a little nostalgic. My memories transport me back in time and I remember when I had to have the coolest back-to-school supplies, whether it was the pack of crayons with lots of variety or a lunchbox that would be the envy of every kid in the lunchroom. And then I remember the fights with my father over some items that he felt were either too expensive or not practical. Eventually we would agree on something that both of us found acceptable. And how that relates to shopper insights.
As a branding consultant, I now understand all too well that the reason for the struggle between him and I back then was that he was the shopper, I was the consumer, and we had vastly different motivations. More than just a happy memory, this part of my history has become an important tool for me on many of my projects where I find it important to distinguish between the very different roles of the consumer and the shopper. They are not always one in the same and need to be treated as such.
On one such recent project I was studying the motivations of consumers buying nutritional shakes. Eager to get firsthand data, I would go to retail locations, and strike up a conversation with anyone that was considering a purchase. The first few people I interviewed were all consumers and I got some great insights from them. Then I happened to interview someone who was purely a shopper, a wife buying the shakes for her spouse. As we conversed, I noticed that her motivations were strikingly different from the others I interviewed.
The consumers were influenced by their habits, making the product a part of their routine. Also, I noticed that peer pressure played a role as they tended to use the same products as their friends. They described in detail where they fit on the adoption curve. As they became regular users, they had traded up from basic shakes to ones with specific features that appealed to a specialized need of theirs.
The wife I interviewed was a shopper, and while she knew what her spouse wanted in terms of brand, quality, and features; you could tell the purchase was a function of the motivations of both her and her spouse. She was trying to make smart choices and knew what fit into their weekly budget. She also had time and physical constraints which determined what specific brands and where she bought the nutrition shakes.
Understanding where these practical, behavioral, and psychological factors intersect is crucial to marketers attempting to develop a successful interaction. Of course, while my examples above were conveniently split into 2 roles, the reality is that much of the time the consumer and shopper are the same person. But the principles I’ve laid out are relevant regardless, as the consumer is of two minds and will choose the product which fits where the shopper (practical) and consumer (emotional) side of themselves overlap; feeling in control *and* as if they are a smart shopper.