Another example of the power of the shopper

Not convinced about the power of the shopper? Think on this.

Imagine you’re launching a new strawberry scented hair mousse aimed at a consumer group of teenage girls. Consumer research has demonstrated that this product has massive appeal among teenage girls, and the consumer marketing team has worked hard on a campaign that is going to whip these girls into a frenzy. The goal is to make your strawberry mousse the next thing that every girl between the ages of 12 and 15 must have.

You even recruited the latest teen pop idols for the campaign. Everyone is confident that these teens will love it and want it.

With all this work to appeal to the target consumer completed, traditional consumer marketers may consider that the marketing job is done. But is it? Maybe—or maybe not. In this case, the answer is no. the job isn’t completed, because the marketers had failed to consider who would actually be buying the mousse.

In this case, the shopper, most of the time is Mom. But Mom will never put strawberry mousse on her scalp (unless there is a major hair emergency). She is unlikely to have been reached or impressed by the marketing campaign.

Granted, some teen girls will whine, complain, and cajole their mothers into buying the product, and some teens may buy for themselves. But to maximize the success of the product, it is imperative for the marketer to acknowledge that the consumer and shopper in this case are two distinctly different people, with distinctly different mindsets and motivations.

Further, the marketer must acknowledge that unless we have considered Mom in our marketing mix—weighing her needs, motivations, and behaviors—then it is highly unlikely that the launch will be as successful as possible or that the big budget spent on the product will deliver the highest possible return.

Many moms, you see, won’t be impressed by pink labels or moved by giddy girls pleading for some chemical-laden mousse. But, if the product is readily available—meaning she doesn’t have to hunt for it—reasonably priced, and not a threat to her daughter’s head and hair,

Mom will probably relent and make the purchase. So, while the consumer marketer’s job is to excite the screaming hordes of teen girls, the shopper marketer must focus on influencing the Mom to buy the mousse for her daughter. But if the shopper marketers in question know nothing about moms and their shopping behavior because the entire marketing effort has focused on the daughter, what are the chances of their efforts paying off?

One company that understands the difference between consumers and shoppers is Procter & Gamble. Its launch of Sunny Delight was a brilliant example.

Sunny Delight was a simple brand—a juice drink for kids. P&G knew that moms didn’t like giving carbonated beverages to their kids because they perceived the drinks as unhealthy. But those kids loved Coke and 7-Up. Moms would rather the kids drank juice, but real juice was pricey and, more importantly, was rejected by their children—it was far too virtuous and not at all fun.

Despite this truth, P&G launched Sunny Delight with massive TV spend and a media buy targeted at kids. The ads were fun, energetic, and trendy.

But P&G didn’t assume that the brand would thrive on pester power alone. The marketers took time out to understand the shopper, Mom, to understand how she shopped.

One key insight was that placing the product in the chiller was a key signal to the shopper that the product was healthy. But Sunny Delight didn’t need to be chilled, and could happily sit on the ambient shelf. So what did P&G do? It put the product in the cooler anyway, next to 100 percent juice. Sunny Delight contained around 5 percent juice and didn’t need to be refrigerated, but if it was going to appeal to moms, this placement was critical.

The result? Within three months of launch, Sunny D was the best-selling grocery product in the UK, topping everything, including Coke. Sadly, the Sunny D story didn’t end well—the brand got some negative PR for supposedly turning kids’ skin orange—but it stands as a great example of understanding the distinction between consumer and shopper.

September 11, 2018