Having a mostly shopper marketing focused background, I thought it only fitting for my first blog post at Stone Ward to be about some things I learned in my time in the consumer packaged goods world.

Below are four key shopper marketing strategies that directly effect brand marketing strategies:

Always keep the shopper in mind, and not necessarily the consumer:

They are not always the same! In fact, we all know that for many brands, the shopper and consumer don’t even belong in the same tax bracket, are not members of the same sex or close in age. Case in point: A fourteen year old that is begging his mom for a $57 t-shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch with a racy slogan slapped across the front of it cannot, in most cases, afford said t-shirt.

A fourteen year old boy may love t-shirts with racy slogans.

You know who doesn’t? Their mother.

That’s why brands like A&F have found themselves in deep water with their shoppers in recent years. If you can solve the problem of how to make mom happy, you have spoken to the shopper and you have won. Always keep your consumer in mind, but if you want your brand to reach that consumer, you have to focus on the shopper: who they are, where they are and what is important to them.

Be the solution to their problem:

What is the problem that your shopper is facing and how are you solving it? Shoppers like convenience. Their ultimate purchase decision is influenced by how you solved the problem at hand and how easy it was to access your product or service. Did they need a solution quickly? What do they value?

When it comes to food, if a shopper values health and time spent with their family they may be inclined to buy a higher priced, healthy meal in the freezer section at the grocery store versus a not-so-healthy alternative. The shopper might think, “I value the time spent with my family and I want them to be healthy, this meal minimizes the time I have to take to prepare it and it’s healthy! Therefore, it’s worth the extra money.” And into the basket it goes.


If the above healthy, quick, meal planning solution is in the midst of six other brands on the shelf in the freezer section, how are you going to make a busy mother of three notice it? Simplicity. What are the communication priorities? When it comes to a website design there can be many; when it comes to a package’s design there should be few. In fact, I would say there should be one primary and one secondary – anything else is overkill.

A shopper spends seconds at the shelf in a grocery store setting before deciding which product purchase. If the packaging has the brand’s logo, tagline, 5 different colors and lines of copy, a shopper’s immediate reaction may be to move on to the next product on the shelf. Shopping these days can be overwhelming and no one likes to be confused.

For Example, “Healthy meal for the whole family in less than 20 minutes!” and a secondary message of “50% Less Sodium than (XYZ Brand)” to back it up may be all the package needs to say for the shopper to make their purchase decision. That’s because with two sentences, you solved their problem!

Brands love their taglines, and why wouldn’t they? Many great brands are identified by this one sentence alone (i.e., “Just Do it”). But when it comes to converting a shopper at the shelf, something like, “Same great taste since 1973!” might not be working hard enough for your brand to stand out against the clutter.

Consider the shopper’s journey:

The Shopper’s journey, in my opinion, consists of: the path the shopper takes from realizing they need to buy something, influences on their purchase decision along the way, their final purchase and post-purchase behavior. In this day and age, there are so many different outlets that can be used to reach your audience. Knowing where your shopper is and where they make their purchase decisions can help you intercept them in this “journey.”

Is your target listening to the radio on the way to the store?   Are they doing research online about your product? Or even on their phone in the store at the shelf? Is this information readily available to them? I have often found myself standing in front of the overwhelming product assortment in the face care aisle in a drug store, whipping out my smart phone and googling products to decide which is best. My decision is usually based on which brands have the most content and positive reviews. Customer ratings and reviews of products and services are starting to become the Alpha and Omega of the shopper journey. Savvy shoppers read reviews to find out which products are the best and they also show your brand some love (or hate) by reviewing the product after they purchase. Don’t believe me? Visit lovemarks.com, it’s a whole website dedicated to brands people love. While many posts are brand-sponsored, many are nominated by none other than shoppers themselves!

Never fall into the trap of assuming purchase decisions are influenced by singular things, such as price. There is so much more brands can be doing along the path to purchase, starting with speaking to the shopper before they ever step foot in the store.

What are some of your favorite brands, and how did they reel you in?