The barriers that the shopper encounters, from the moment in which they decide to purchase right up until the moment when they place the product in their shopping basket, is the object and focus of the study of shopper marketing. They start to interfere in the purchase process even before the shopper reaches the shop, for example, when he/she still knows little about a product, or is not even aware of the fact that it exists. In the marketing context, our task is to remove one barrier after another, thereby facilitating the purchase and, consequently, increasing the sales of the product.
Only by understanding how the shopper behaves during his/her journey towards making the purchase will a marketing professional gain the capacity to minimize such difficulties. The most common hurdle in the consumer goods universe are: access, product/ brand visibility, the attention of the shopper and doubts arising about the products.
Identifying the barriers or “purchase hurdles” is neither an easy or rapid task. Nevertheless, a trained shopper marketing professional has the skills and ability to map out all the stages of the “path to purchase” using, for example, such tools as the observation of the buying process (observing the purchase) and interviews at the points-of-sale (POS) to identify, from there on, the key questions involved that may hamper any decision in favor of a particular brand.
The first step is to understand how the shopper came to know about the product and, then, how he chose the channel in which to buy it. Knowing how the shopper interacts with
the brand before reaching the POS is fundamental for increasing the probability of their considering a particular brand during the decision process.
What, for instance, is the shopping mission of a shopper when he/she enters a supermarket? Has the purchase in this or that category been planned, or does it just happens on impulse? Understanding these points is crucial to defining what the right angle of communication should be at the points-of-sale. Sometimes, even when finding the product at the POS, in the right place, displayed quite correctly, the shopper may end up not choosing the brand, preferring another old favorite instead. Could it be a problem of price? Is the shopper in doubt over the advantages of the product for him or her?
At this point, the planning of the message, aimed at the target public, is of utmost importance: the right message has the power of reverting the doubts, transforming them into certainties in favor of buying your product; transforming intention into conversion.
This is where the purchase triggers cut in. These triggers are the motives through which the shopper decides that he/she wants to buy a certain product. Very often the true motivators are not clear and only a detailed investigation is capable of revealing what will (or won’t) activate the impulse to buy at the moment of truth. Using the correct trigger in POS material is a powerful shortcut that immensely shortens the path between the brand and the shopper.
To knock down such barriers to purchase is, therefore, to reduce the “regret about buying” perspective with each step of the path to purchase. Minimizing such possibility of frustration, will close the circle – the buying, the experience of using, and the returning to buy again.
One very recent and successful case of this ‘breaking down of barriers’ is that of Hellman’s. The brand, through its campaign “Tasty food can also be healthy”, managed to take to the point-of-sale an integrated-communication message directed at the shopper, at the precise moment of buying, that mayonnaise can also be part of a healthy diet, and further be consumed in other dishes beyond the traditional hamburgers and hot-dogs. Through points-of-sale material and (prizewinning) actions such as the “recipe on the back of the label”, Unilever managed to successfully demonstrate and incentivate new and healthier uses of Hellman’s traditional mayonnaise.
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*Rafael D’Andrea and Juliana Nappo
Originally published at Mundo do Marketing website in 10/10/2012