Good article from Jon Kramer of Alliance in The Hub that bursts a little of the shopper marketing bubble and makes the unfashionable case that shopper marketing is a sales role.
I think it is true that there's been a little too much hype and wishful thinking.
The bulk of the value of "shopper insights" is their ability to build relationships between manufacturers and retailers. And for all intents and purposes that is a sales role. For all the talk of cooperation between these two institutions the power in the relationship is not equal. The manufacturer is trying to sell.
Marketing is often on the outside looking in and trying to understand what it, with its legacy of mass communication, can do to contribute.
One thing that will change that is a shift of power to manufacturers. If manufacturers can really drive traffic to retailers (see Kraft's ifoods) then retailers may start to become more interested in genuine cooperation.