Shoppers and Consumers – Same but Different?

Updated: Jul 9

Although you may think it, a shopper and consumer are not always the same.


Take, for instance, a husband and wife scenario. The husband uses a shampoo that he likes to use – he is the consumer of the product. When that shampoo runs out, it is typically his wife who will purchase more – she is the shopper making a purchase decision on his (the consumer’s) behalf.


In this example, the shopper and consumer are distinctly two different people – they could, however, be the same person, if for instance, the husband purchases his shampoo. In both instances, whether he or she buys the shampoo, along with the need to buy a new one, a shopper mindset kicks in. Both people are in a space to be influenced by the emotional drivers of purchase decisions, which opens up marketing opportunities.


To market products effectively both in and outside of a store environment brands and retailers need to understand purchase behaviours, which starts with an understanding of who the consumers and the shoppers or a product are. They are then able to target shoppers more effectively and appropriately and tailor marketing and relevant messaging to influence these behaviours of each group and convert sales of products. An example as to how to market the men’s shampoo effectively to the shopper (i.e. their ladies) would be to include a sample bottle of the shampoo on the front of female title magazines. While the product is not intended for their use, with clever messaging about the benefits of the shampoo, the shopper will likely get their partner to sample it. The fact that their partners are recommending the product – means that they probably will. Had it been placed on the men’s titles magazines the likelihood of men trying it would be a lot less.


An example of a brand that has successfully implemented a smart advertising campaign that talks effectively to the shopper versus the consumer is Old Spice. The very well known “The Man your Man Could Smell Like” campaign. Instead of targeting the men who would be using the product (i.e. the consumer). The messaging and visuals of the campaign Old Spice targets the ladies who will be purchasing the product on behalf of their men.

Another example is a campaign that Angle Orange worked on with one of our clients, which required us to market particular motor oil and increase sales. Instead of creating a campaign that focused on targeting the consumers of the product i.e. the motorists driving the cars that received the oil. We aimed creative and messaging directly at mechanics, those who would be purchasing the oil on the motorists’ behalf.


As with the above scenarios, marketing that targets the shopper would be distinctly different from that targeting the consumer. I think we could all agree that the Old Spice advert would not appeal to the men on the same level as it does to the ladies.


It is therefore important, where relevant that as a starting point brands identify and understand the difference between the consumer and the shopper. Both groups then need to be considered and marketed in a way that is relevant and appropriate to positively influence purchase decisions.

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