Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shopper Marketing – Pain Management

Lots of discussion these days on the difference between shoppers and consumers. In my opinion emphasis on the fact that they could be different people for the same product is misguided. They are often the same people but the key difference is their distinct states of mind.

The act of purchase, as opposed to the act of consumption, involves a degree of pain – the hip pocket nerve. Shopping involves conflict between areas of the brain associated with dopamine/reward (nucleus accumbens) and that associated with fear (insula). The reward is the promise of the product. The fear is largely the fear of loss – the payment.

So shopper marketing is addressing a different state of mind than brand marketing. The emphasis on reward – that is so strong in brand marketing – still needs to be there but there also needs to be reassurance on loss. For anyone selling anything there are many ways to do this. The classic way is via pricing and discounting. This is not always the best way for two reasons. Firstly because it is not always the most effective means of minimizing the pain. Secondly it leaves money on the table unnecessarily.

Another way is to guide and support the choice so they walk away from the purchase without the feeling of loss. This is the way to build brands in the store. That task is of course easier with a salesperson, especially one who is passionate and believes in the product. But in the grocery store the shopper is alone. The task of shopper marketing is to be the voice of the passionate salesperson, guiding and supporting the choice. If that is done correctly not only does the consumer choose the product but they feel good about that choice. And a consequence feel good about the brand.

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