Thought piece:

Adapting campaigns to suit the shopping mission not just store format

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It’s easy to assume that by targeting your campaign to particular store formats you are reaching shoppers predominantly on ‘stock up’ or ‘top up’ missions. It’s also easy to assume that shoppers choose store formats based on shopping missions, for example one of the most common missions for convenience stores is ‘food for tonight’. However, the reality is that shoppers choose retailers and store formats that are convenient for them, therefore shopping missions are not mutually exclusive to store format.

Shopper marketers need to focus less on store format and more on shopping missions if they want shoppers to see the relevance of the brand/product to their needs.

There are 3 key factors we believe brands should consider carefully when tailoring their campaign to relevant shopping missions (in addition to the usual product, category and brand considerations):

  1. Shopper journey and behaviour

Depending on the mission, shoppers will approach their shop in different ways. They might plan ahead for some, whilst decide in-store for others. A ‘food for tonight’ mission is much less likely to be planned vs a weekly stock up mission where shoppers might be writing a list. In this scenario, given there is less time spent in planning mode, brands should focus on influencing shoppers during the shop itself, since they are looking for inspiration closer to the point of purchase.

There is also a need to consider what other categories and products the shopper might be browsing or purchasing on the same mission and how to use that to your advantage in your campaign.

  1. Messaging

Adapting messaging based on the shopper mission is also important. We know that shoppers looking for ‘food for tonight’ are more often than not going to be time poor and perhaps shopping between work and home, yet in need of quick inspiration, so brands need to ensure that messaging really is succinct, relevant and delivers a clear call to action. Tailoring a message to make it relevant to a specific mission or occasion e.g. ‘try tonight’ can deliver strong results as it creates a mental shortcut for the shopper to know to look at that option, speeding up the decision process for shoppers to choose your brand over another.

However, brands must be mindful of being too niche with their association that it hinders usage occasion down the line. Toblerone is a great example of this – it was known for being the last minute airport present solution for years before they realised they needed to make the product a more obvious link to other occasions, such as Father’s Day, to be bought in supermarkets too.  

  1. Competitive set

When trying to create relevance for your brand in a specific shopper mission, you need to be aware that your competitive set might change. Take frozen potato wedges for example. Normally the competitive set would always include other brands in the category, but for say a ‘food for tonight’ mission you might be considering it as a meal accompaniment or as a meal itself. This opens up two different sets of competitors already – meal accompaniments could be vegetables, other frozen potato, salad, rice… As a main meal there is a whole host of things to compete with e.g. pizza. And if the shopping mission is for a party, the competitive set changes again to include other party food – hot and cold.

In summary, it’s not enough for brands to just consider store format when tailoring campaigns to be relevant to target shoppers. We must consider the shopping mission as this has a huge influence on the campaign comms and media strategy. Brands need to be smarter about speaking to shoppers at the right point of the shopper journey, with relevant messaging, and where to have media presence to drive the best results.

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