What is Shopper Marketing?

grocery cart in store aisle

“Ask ten different people how they define shopper marketing and one gets ten different answers.”
2014 HUB Magazine article

While shopper marketing is still evolving, we know the path is clear. Gone are the days when consumer goods companies controlled the market and could generate demand by placing a commercial on the big three networks. Retail consolidation created powerful companies which are now fighting to continue the growth. This has led to renewed focus on the shopper.

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Back to School with Shopper Marketing Insights

Back to School

Leadership is about having a greater vision of where to go to achieve success.  It also requires using influence to help guide others to successfully achieve their goals, driving for the greater good.  As a point of purchase architect and manufacturer, we strive to help our customers achieve their ultimate goals of business success.  To be able to do this, we must understand the retail environment and the constantly evolving trends that rapidly changing shopping behaviors are shaping.

Great Northern InStore - Back to School

Utilizing the coverage of our nationally based team, we perform regular retail audits using a prescribed formula.  It starts with a simple step; defining the scope of the upcoming audit.  Great Northern Instore covers Back to School, fall activities, holiday season, and spring events in relevant retail environments.

Once the scope is determined, we do our homework:  research.  This is critical a critical step to accomplish before going into stores.  We utilize our industry associations, insight partnerships, and comb retail sources.  This helps us identify upcoming trends and strategies that will be employed.  Some initial store visits in key markets help us set up hypotheses for our auditors to prove or disprove.

We then create audit assignments, covering the key retail channels, top retailers, and geographies across the country.  Having team members spread from the east coast to California helps us understand regional programs.  The specific assignments help us efficiently reach the right stores and focus on the right content.

We are then ready to visit our favorite place, the retail floor.  We consider the entire environment, entrance, racetrack, middle-store, seasonal areas, and checkout.  We are also utilizing mobile survey technology to make the most of our team members’ time and streamline the data gathering process.

Then it all must come together.  A deck of pictures alone does not provide insights.  We compare the data to our hypotheses.  We sort the pictures, consider each auditor’s commentary and begin sewing the threads of data into a story, identifying key insights that are being used.  We weave in our upfront research, fully understanding what is happening across the entire path to purchase;  we understand the entire shopping cycle does not take place only in the store…it is a path.  Understanding how all the pieces fit together in this process helps us design in store programs that reach maximum success as part of an integrated marketing effort.

Then delivery…providing a meaningful presentation where Great Northern Instore teams and our clients all benefit.  A success help all learn the applicable insights, how they were applied, and how we can leap from the present to create a more impactful future program.  We will sit down and deliver the results with our design department present, to use the information as a springboard to innovate and create the next program that both your brand and the retailer will get behind.

This July, we applied this process to the Back to School season.  We visited Walmart, Target, Kroger, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens, Staples, Office Depot, Dollar General, Sam’s and Costco.  We noticed three broad retail solutions being applied.

#1  Retailers are making a strong marketing and merchandising push during this #2 season for them.  This includes out of store tactics ranging from the traditional to experimenting with digital tools.  To varying degrees, these efforts were connected to how they dressed their stores for the occasion.  The development of a theme is meant to capture the occasion based mission of a parent needing to shop for the requirements of their child’s school + items that would set them up for success (What parent doesn’t want their child to succeed?).

#2  We all know Moms/parents are very busy.  Their day is hectic…to stand out retailers look to make Back to School shopping easy.  Providing extra copies of school lists, helping navigation with color blocks or large product imagery, and adding windows to deep dump bins so the shopper can easily see what’s inside are some of the tactics that are being employed.

#3  Social media has exploded.  Parents are looking to their networks to help make sure they are buying the best products for their children.  This pertains to both quality and cost.  Many campaigns were tested by retailers, but surprisingly little was pulled into the store environment.


It does not end with these insights.  Contact Great Northern Instore so our experts can use these starting points to innovate a program for your products.  After all, brick and mortar retailers are looking for solutions, as they are losing Back to School market share to online competitors.  We can help you provide that solution, and be a leader.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is more than a tagline, it is an attitude. At Great Northern, customer challenges are met by an undying spirit to doing what others can’t or won’t. It’s in our DNA. And it is what our customers have come to expect with Great Northern.

How can we exceed your expectations?

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