4 Key Tips For Reaching In-Store Shoppers

Sep 14, 2022

According to recent statistics, consumer in-store shopping habits are on the rise, with sales rising steadily to outpace gains in online shopping. But these shoppers have truly changed for good, and reaching them can be a challenge for many brands. Between heightened competition, economic pressures, and supply chain issues, there are several obstacles between you and winning over consumers. This calls for strategic, targeted marketing informed by solid research. As consumers return to stores after a pandemic-driven hiatus of sorts, effectively getting your message across to shoppers in the physical retail environment is vital.

Alter Agents conducted a survey to launch our Shopper Influence Research program, asking 6,000 recent purchasers who had bought in six product and service categories about the journey they took to arrive at their purchase decisions. Three of our categories – packaged coffee, household cleaning supplies, and dog treats and supplements – sit in the CPG sector and are often bought in stores. These shoppers told us about the time they took to make a decision, where they got their information, and which information sources were most influential.

Based on this research, we’ve come up with some key tips for reaching shoppers in the store:

1. Product packaging draws attention, so optimize it

Product packaging was one of the top-cited sources of information for shoppers in our three CPG categories. But there was variance among them. While 54% of dog treat shoppers read the packaging to determine whether or not it met their standards, 48% of shoppers looking for cleaning supplies did the same.

But when we asked shoppers who consulted the packaging whether or not it was influential in their final decision, they reported a mixed bag: 59% of packaged coffee shoppers who consulted it said it was influential, compared to 47% of those looking for cleaning supplies. Brands can improve those figures by finding out exactly what information shoppers in their category want to know, and being certain that it’s on the label.

2. Store employees are highly influential

Consumer education is always important and store employees are valuable ambassadors for your brand and product. They are also an underutilized resource: Employee recommendations were used by just 29% of dog treat shoppers, 23% of those looking for cleaning supplies, and 22% of shoppers looking for a package of coffee. But 51% of all those who asked a store employee for their thoughts found the information to be highly influential in how they made a final decision.

If your brand runs its own retail locations, an employee advocacy program is easy to set up. If you don’t have that advantage, try things like providing educational materials for retailers and employees, holding incentivized workshops and, if possible, making an in-person visit to your top retailers.

3. In-store signage can draw shoppers 

Like packaging, signage can be an influential source for shopper decision making. In fact, in two of the categories we studied – packaged coffee and cleaning supplies – signs and displays were the top source for those shoppers. Because consumers like to be educated before they pull out their wallets, signage can serve this purpose to a certain extent. While it wasn’t listed as highly influential in some categories, in-store signage and shelf displays can help at the margins and work well on impulsive shoppers. Again, consumer research that garners solid, applicable insights can help brands and retailers make decisions on how much to focus on this communication vehicle.

4. Shopper behavior is category-specific

The key takeaway from all of our research is that shoppers do not behave in the same way across categories when it comes to gathering pre-purchase information. Even if two products are sold in the same store, same aisle, if they are not in the same category then shoppers will be turning to differing information sources to gather what they need to feel confident in a purchase decision. So when you’re trying to formulate your in-store marketing strategy, you need to back it up with actionable category-specific market research.

Devora Rogers is the chief strategy officer at Alter Agents, a strategic market research consultancy, and co-author of Influencing Shopper Decisions: Unleash The Power Of Your Brand To Win Customers. She spoke with IGA CEO John Ross about how media and net influence affect shopper behavior in this video interview

Want to win a copy of Influencing Shopper Decisions? Share a marketing best practice that your store has implemented and you will be entered to win. 


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