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Shopper Marketing 101: What It Is and How It Works

July 18, 2019

Ever wonder who decided to put names on Coca-Cola bottles?

I mean the idea is genius. Even if you don’t drink Coke, you buy one just because it has your name on it. Campaigns like this are put forth by shopper marketers.

This marketing discipline is different from traditional advertising and promotion. Shopper marketers focus on making last-minute appeals to shoppers at the very moment they’re considering buying, while other forms of marketing try to increase overall awareness and affinity for a brand or product.

People love to speculate that brick-and-mortar stores are dying. In an effort to keep shoppers going to stores, shopper marketing is a key strategy used by many companies that sell consumer packaged goods.

What is shopper marketing?

When walking through a store, there are many things you may not notice that are carefully thought out and implemented by a shopper marketer. Things like the layout, smell, and even lighting are purposely done to entice shoppers to make a purchase.

Shopper marketers analyze and study shopper behavior while in shopping mode.

Say that ten times fast.

But this analysis is incredibly important when making your marketing plan.

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When walking down the coffee aisle you are presented with several brands and you have to make a choice. When it comes down to it in the end, it’s just coffee, and the prices are nearly the same. So what makes you pick up a specific coffee to buy? It’s in these moments that shopper marketers employ a plethora of tactics.

Shopper marketing tactics

How does shopper marketing drive both sales and brand equity? The best shopper marketing campaigns use a variety of tactics to reach the shopper at multiple points on their path-to-purchase.


Putting up signs throughout stores can entice shoppers and lead them to make a purchase. Shopping can be stressful, and attention-grabbing displays make it easier for shoppers to navigate the store. Consider making a display at the end-cap of an aisle, so that your shoppers don’t have to go into the jungle of brands in-aisle.


People, like myself, go to stores for the demos. Trader Joe’s comes to mind as a place that does this extremely well. They have a food and beverage demo every day with the products they’re featuring right next to the demo for purchase.

This takes out the fear of making a purchase you’ll regret. In fact, it builds excitement and might even be the first thing you eat when you get home.


Grocery stores aren’t playing music just for fun. In fact, 90% of consumers say that they are more likely to revisit a store the leverages music, visuals, and scents.

From the coffee aisle to the bakery, these scents are what pull you in and make you buy. If you haven’t considered the ambiance of your store, it’s time you do. Shopper marketers can help you seamlessly integrate sensory experiences that will keep shoppers coming back.

Social media marketing

People take their phones everywhere. As people are walking through stores, they’re oftentimes scrolling through Instagram and other social media websites. Create geo-targeted ads that pop into people’s newsfeeds when they’re near or at your store.

Shopper marketing agencies

Many advertising agencies have large business units that focus on shopper marketing because of the immediate impact it has on sales. Together, traditional “above-the-line” advertising works with “below-the-line” shopper marketing to best serve your clients.

There are many ways to go about shopper marketing, but hiring an agency that specializes in it will best serve your marketing needs.

For example, companies like Starbucks have an entire internal team dedicated to shopper marketing and an entirely separate agency that works with them to implement shopper marketing tactics. Together, they drive sales in-aisle and online at the point-of-purchase.

Check out these shopper marketing agencies if you’re looking for experts in the field.

Examples of shopper marketing

Here are three shopper marketing case study videos of Effie award-winning campaigns.


“From Mystery Meat to Meat You Can Trust”



“Back to College After-Hours Shopping Event”



“We Got U at Walmart”


Shop ‘til you drop

Shopper marketing is a niche kind of marketing that impacts shoppers at the moment of purchase. Without shopper marketing, consumers would continue to shop in zombie mode and companies would miss out on sales. Implementing a shopper marketing strategy is the best way to capture your potential shoppers and convert them into brand evangelists.

Looking to get into the e-commerce game? It all starts with building a successful e-commerce website.


Shopper Marketing 101: What It Is and How It Works Shopper marketing is a discipline that focuses on shoppers on their path-to-purchase. Discover shopper marketing tactics, agencies, and examples.
Deirdre O'Donoghue Deirdre O’Donoghue is a Content Manager at Nature's Fynd and a former Content Manager at G2. In her free time, you can find Deirdre fostering puppies or exploring the Chicago foodie scene. (she/her/hers)

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