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Shopperocentrism – everything revolves around the buyer…

It is year 1543 –  Nicolaus Copernicus publishes his famous work “On the rotation of the celestial spheres”, which revolutionizes the approach to the solar system and science. A few centuries later – while maintaining a correspondingly smaller scale of the phenomenon, – shoppercentrism appears.

“How pathetic…”. – You might have thought. Sure it is. This is a deliberate exaggeration to draw attention to how important a customer in today’s FMCG market is. Understanding his motivation, shopping habits or way of behaving is the key to building a shop space that is shopper friendly in cooperation with a retailer.   

The product needs 360° support

OK, so we have a good product, we invest in ATL operations, but “Nielsen” despite the high weighted distribution still does not show increased turnover. The propsales researched by us shows that the product has potential. So it’s time for some activity directly in the retailer.

Let’s assume that we carry out promotion and its aim is to increase the volume.  What should be done to ensure that the investment in an additional newspaper module and discount generates additional sales and the shop does not have problems with the full stocks? “Differentiate or die” as the title of Jack’s Trout cult book says. Yes, almost 50% of buyers get information about promotions from shop’s newsletter, but without a properly designed shopping path and product distinction on the shelf, the buyer will not reach for our product. The model presented below is a great simplification of what is happening in behind-the-scenes negotiations manufacturer-commercial network, but it is easy to visualize how to influence the buyer.

First of all – the shelf

A shelf is always the number one – no OOS and availability of product tops adequate to the format of the shop and its microenvironment are the basis. Without this, we cannot move on.  If there is no product on the shelf at a given moment, we have to count on a really deep loyalty of our buyers (only about 20% will go to another store to buy our product), otherwise, due to lack of time, it will choose some other substitute. Well thought and meticulously designed shelf (that take into account the decision tree of the category we deal with) will make shopping more intuitive. At this point, we should listen to the needs and motivations of the buyer, like a confessor to a stray soul. Today’s buyer does not have much time for shopping. This is rather an unpleasant duty for him. Let’s help him make a purchase decision.

Secondly – the POSM

We all buy with our eyes – so effective merchandising is very important. As the classic says: “Doing business without advertising is like to wink to a girl in the dark. Nobody, except us, knows what we are doing.” That’s why we use additional promotion materials on the shelf to strengthen our message. Their main function is to distinguish the product on the shelf. Simple? Not so! The buyer is “attacked” by hundreds of messages while shopping, directing his attention to our product is not so easy. Our selective eyesight sees only contrasts, shapes and symbols. Additional shelf material should be distinguishable in order to fulfil its role. The effectiveness of shelf materials is difficult to measure, but not impossible.  A  promotion material that gives some value to the buyer, or one that will help him to enjoy a moment in the world of the brand (customer experience), even if it does not result in immediate gratification in the form of purchasing a product – it can be expected in the future. In the back of the head, we should have an old AIDA marketing principle: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This principle speaks of the process that takes place in the head of the buyer or consumer during the purchasing decision. In my experience, the best ones are shelfstopper, strips and trays blocking the shelf space and floor stickers. Certainly, in these cases, we will ensure visibility, but their implementation is often an expensive solution – and while the category leader can find a budget for them, “shelf underdog” in most cases can’t. What distinguishes us in such a case is the packaging of our product – almost 50% of buyers are aware (smart) – if the quality and price of our product are attractive, the chances of defending against a strong BTL competitor are increasing.

Thirdly – secondary placement

Give the “opportunity” to stumble on an additional promotional product display – the more points of contact, the better. Despite the fact that about 70% of purchases are generated from the shelf, acting on the subconscious of the buyer is very important. Here, two principles of POSM design are still effective: “less is more” and “make the logo bigger”. Purely, in accordance with the brand strategy and with a simple CTA (call to action). Shop space is a place where trade marketing implements the brand marketing strategy – but remember that this is not a place to move 1:1 marketing communication – here it must be much simpler – “there is no time for unnecessary thinking – just put our product into the basket!

Fourthly – evaluation

It is time, to sum up the promotion – this is one of the most important stages. Here we will answer the question of whether all our efforts have brought the intended results. Of course, not every promotion must have a sales target – some can support the introduction of novelties, others can build a trial, frequency of purchases, market penetration, product awareness or even have a strategic goal, about which only the manufacturer knows. However, it is important not to omit the most important stage of the Kolb’s cycle – reflective observation. A good shelf or newspaper promotion is worth repeating. As mine great university lecturer used to say in a characteristic voice, “an investment must be profitable” – that’s why only at the end of the day it turns out that we managed to earn something.

“It’s hard to be together”

Every element of a complex shop ecosystem is like a connected vessel – manufacturers and retail chains are fighting for the attention of the buyer. Both sides of the market are well aware of the importance of the shopper’s attention. Suppliers are investing more and more looking for points of contact on the customer journey. All this so that at the end of the day their product is in the basket of the buyer.  Store chains, that don’t like to stay alone stimulate manufacturers – during research such as Advantage[1], of which customer marketing is an important element – to work together for resale. The key to the success of both parties is a partnership – in sales promotion and management of the most important place in the store – the shelf.

Be open for a new technology

Let’s get back to the end of the 15th century – it was when that heliocentric theory, despite the original reluctance, was widely accepted and changed the perception of the world. In the case of shopperocentrism, however, it seems that the FMCG companies and retailers have been aware of its existence since the beginning of consumerism, but still underestimate its role – therefore, data-based analysis of buyer behavior and an attempt to influence it in a shop is now a significant competitive advantage.

Personally, I’m also looking forward technologies that make it easier to interpret buyer behavior, such as VR, AI and eye tracking, which in the long term promises to facilitate stressful shopping as if it wasn’t the case. However, one thing is bothering me, is it really the shopper in the center, or is it the shopper leading by the nose around the product?

Michał Barcik