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18 Sep 2014
posted by: Amanda

Shopper segmentation; one view to rule all others?

In our conversations with shopper & category leaders, the phrase 'shopper segmentation' keeps popping up, but is there such a thing as one shopper segmentation?

It's an interesting one really because it seems to follow logically that there would be one shopper segmentation view given this is how we've thought about consumers for years. For example, most of the clients we work with have 'their' consumer segmentation, e.g., 'Busy Families', 'Early Adopters' and 'Role Models', etc. At Shopperpedia, we aren't consumer experts but given most of our clients seem to have one view of consumer segmentation, there's a kind of belief that this same logic should apply to shoppers.

We're not so sure.

These are the things we are thinking about right now. We'd love to hear your thoughts. 

1. Shopper mission segmentation

On Monday you head out to the shops to get the week's shopping for the family. On Thursday you pop into the shops to buy for friends coming round that night. You know yourself - and we know for a fact from Shopperpedia - that on these different missions, shoppers do not behave the same. Shopper behaviour changes depending on the mission and therefore shoppers oscillate between shopper segments based on their mission.


So what?

With consumers, it does appear to us (the non-consume expert), that consumers mostly fit into a neat box labelled, 'early adopter' and this defines what they do everyday in most categories they touch. Shoppers are less regimented as they can behave in one way today and another tomorrow. Therefore your shopper marketing strategies and activation should not be targeted at Mrs Jones who looks like this & expects this, but at a % of shoppers who will behave like this, i.e., looking for something special for a friend's dinner, on x% of shopping trips the majority of the time. Knowing this shopper insight % for your categories is therefore key to know which missions to target and how often.

2. Promotional Shopper Segmentation

The same goes for promotions. As a consumer, we know if we are a DINK (Double Income No Kids) or a Struggling Family as this is dictated by disposable income. But does this consumer knowledge translate into shopper insight when it comes to how shoppers behave in-store regarding prices and promotions? 

At times linked to the mission, at times it's just the way it is; shoppers are prepared to spend more in some categories than others. In my old Mars days, I remember the cat brand manager of the time informing us of how their in-store shopper insight observations had revealed how shoppers would have a trolley loaded with private label and promotional items, but when it came to the cat...it had to be Whiskas all the way. 

From Shopperpedia we know that a shopper doesn't 'belong' to one promotional shopper segment. They might be a DINK in consumer land, but in shopper land they oscillate. In bread they might behave like a 'price wary' shopper, in canned fish a 'stock hoarder' and in confectionery a 'money is no object' shopper. All three behaviours from one shopper on one trip across several categories. It's enough to make your head hurt just thinking about it

So what?

Like before, it's taking the view that you're not aiming your shopper strategies or tactics at a defined person, but a set of defined behaviours and that these behaviours can be influenced greatly as they do not define who the shopper is, just how they are behaving today. 

3. Shopper segmentation = open to influence

Whether it be shopper brand loyalty, shelf engagement or NPD segmentation, the shopper is not fixed to - or defined by - one segmentation or one segment and this is the key point for shopper marketers and category managers everywhere. If they are not fixed and they oscillate frequently, they can be influenced. This is the shopper marketing opportunity unlike consumer marketing. For example, if your brand doesn't appeal to a certain consumer segment, e.g., 'early adopter' and this segment represents a good % of the market, then that's a big mountain for your brand to climb as consumer segmentation does define who the person is. A single brand is highly unlikely to change this.


Whereas if you know that you have 35% of 'bargain hunting' behaviour in your category and that this is 10% higher than the norm, this is something that you can actively work on & change - in either direction - depending on what your brand is trying to do. Same goes for shopper mission. If you know that your purchase is highly reliant on a 'last minute, forgotten' mission, then you can use strategies & tactics to remind shoppers earlier in their shopping cycle or locate it in a higher traffic area for example. 

Therefore in summary for us, there is not one shopper segmentation view that rules them all, but key ones that demonstrate the expected behaviour in key shopper knowledge areas of mission, promotions, shelf engagement, shopper brand loyalty, activation and role. Key for you, is understanding yours!

Good luck!