Chapter 1:
Shopper Insights vs. Consumer Insights

Consumer insights have been used for decades by consumer goods manufacturers and others. Shopper insights focus on a specific segment of the consumer journey – the path to purchase and the purchase process. Sometimes, the consumer and shopper will be the same person. But there are several reasons why it can be helpful to do shopper behavior research to examine consumer and shopper insights separately.

First, the shopper may not be the consumer. For example, a mother may make deodorant purchases for her teenage son. What drives the mother’s purchasing process as a shopper, like efficacy or value, may be different to what drives the son’s usage expectations as a consumer.

Secondly, typical consumer insights explain behavior in a well-reasoned way. But that may take little or no account of real-world factors like point of sale material. If you’ve ever left a store with something different to what you went for, you have first-hand experience of how insights about a consumer might not match up with insights about the same person as a shopper. Shopper insights help reveal this context which can explain why people are not behaving the way they might be expected to based on consumer insights.

Thirdly, shopper marketing insights are a great way to get context and an accurate read on real buying behavior. In a two-hour focus group on mouthwash, you might hear a lot about long-term oral health and formula. But go and stand in a gas station at two o’clock in the morning. There, you may discover that mouthwash purchase is driven more by proximity to the checkout register than any other factor. These insights explain how what consumers think they want and what they do when they shop fit together in the real world. Crucially, they provide the springboard you need for strategies to convert such gaps from weaknesses for your business into ownable strengths.