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Is ‘shopper’ still ‘shopper’?

With the use of mobile growing exponentially, are our old definitions of ‘shopper’ still relevant today?

In marketing, we love a definition. Marketeers (myself included) were brought up on them, spending their time in meetings referring gleefully to above the line, below the line, BRTV, DRTV, performance marketing (a special favourite of mine) – the list goes on and on.

At the core of it, I believe the reason we marketeers feel the need to use these definitions to compartmentalise communication is to a) make sure that we’ve got all bases covered for our plan and, slightly more worryingly, b) justify the budgets that are placed against different activities. One of these definitions that has always caused more confusion than others, is the idea of Shopper Marketing. Traditionally it has been defined…wait for it…as any piece of communication that was targeted at a potential purchaser on their way to, or in, a store designed to trigger a purchase of a product. Despite it’s obvious importance in driving sales and delivering a ROI from marketing spend, ‘Shopper’, as it has become known, has been separated from traditional brand communication as the ‘dirty’ bit of the communication funnel. It is not perceived (perhaps fairly in most cases) as a space where brands can really grow their reputation or deliver an engaging experience. That’s why many agencies have separate shopper departments and creatives. It is even why we set up Threefold – to help brands and retailers do this better and create an environment where brands can grow. Where brands can be engaging.

But recently I’ve been thinking that it may be time to challenge this definition. Aren’t we all shopping pretty much all the time these days?

I recently read a report from Deloitte which made my eyes widen. Take a moment to take in these facts. 85% of people in the UK now own a smart phone - not all that shocking. 50% of those people use their mobile while walking (a little surprising but no shock). This rises to 74% in 16-24 year olds (now a little shocking and explains the increase in collisions). But wait for it… 66% of all 16-19 year olds will wake up in the middle of the night to check their phone and browse social media. 66%?

Now pair these facts with a recent study by O&CC consultants in partnership with Google and PayPal which states that by 2020, £43bn will be bought on a mobile device in the UK. That’s two thirds of the total e-commerce market. And it doesn’t stop there. A further £14bn worth of sales will include a phone in the research phase. That’s now 80% of all e-commerce sales happening through a mobile device. In a year and a half.

So how do we define this? Surely the truth is that we are always on a shopper journey. We are always either researching or purchasing products and we do so through the ‘shop’ in our pocket. So therefore, isn’t ‘Shopper Marketing’ now just ‘Marketing’? Isn’t a medium without a clear call to action and a link to purchase now just an old fashioned an ineffective channel?

It is our view that we need to leave the definition behind. Shopper is no longer a ‘part of the journey’, rather a constant mindset that we, as marketeers, need to adopt. As a result, working more closely with your retail partners will be essential for growth.

And for that, we’re here to help.


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