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The Difference Between Consumer Marketing and Shopper Marketing

Consumer behavior has changed in recent decades to keep pace with developments in technology, media, and access to information. Retail companies have had to adapt to the world’s increasing dependence on online and mobile technologies to successfully keep shopper marketing practices aligned with the needs of potential customers.

Professionals looking to advance their marketing careers with an MBA in marketing can expect to study shopper marketing and its effects on retail marketing campaigns.

What Is a Consumer?

Manufacturers and retailers rely on rates of use or consumption to determine their marketing efforts. Both retailers and manufacturers analyze data from buying habits and other information to create consumer behavior models. This approach considers the following steps in the consumer’s consumption process: awareness of product, product search, purchasing decision, consumption, disposal and reflection.

By gleaning insights from consumer behavior at each of these steps, manufacturers and retailers can develop targeted marketing campaigns. Their marketing efforts should help consumers make decisions or take actions that develop brand loyalty.

What Is a Shopper?

Increasingly, consumers rely on digital services to pay bills, keep records and shop. Personal buying habits have changed along with new shopping methods, and the traditional consumer behavior model no longer applies in all the same ways as it once did. In many instances, companies have turned toward shopper marketing rather than the consumer model.

In the shopper model, marketing analysts ask a series of questions about the shopping experience:

  • How long was the shopping trip?
  • How many trips did the shopper make within a certain time period?
  • How many items were in the shopper’s basket?
  • How did those items relate to each other?
  • What was the original purpose of the shopping trip?

Effect on Marketing

Ultimately, retailers and manufacturers look at consumer versus shopper practices to form marketing campaigns based on their customers’ processes of thinking, deciding and taking action. Their goal is to influence customers to buy their products or services. Often manufacturers and retailers work together to implement effective shopper marketing practices, expanding the reach of each company’s marketing dollars.

Successful companies use many aspects of the shopper’s decision-making and buying process in their marketing campaigns. Companies can look at such factors as whether the shopper considers the product necessary, wants to save time or money, makes the purchase for themselves or someone else, or makes decisions in-store or beforehand.

Graduates of an MBA in marketing program know how to apply the principles of shopper marketing. Classes that address advanced marketing techniques prepare MBA students to advance companies’ marketing objectives in practical, results-driven ways.

Learn about the UT Tyler online MBA with a concentration in Marketing program.


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