Shopper Marketing, Could Shelf Execution Become a Key Cost of Living Battle Ground?

As a shopper marketer, I thought the challenges of navigating a global pandemic with shoppers being recommended to shop less, focus their shops and leave key influencers to purchase decisions such as children at home would be one of the hardest challenges we faced.

Clearly, I was wrong. The emerging cost of living crises we are seeing globally and in New Zealand has the potential to significantly change shopper behaviours again and challenge our ability to influence their decisions.

The pandemic basket was larger and many shoppers were seeking to replace out of home experiences with at home solution so were open to new ideas and being engaged in the shopping journey.  Two recent pieces of research suggest shoppers focuses are changing quickly and I believe support my hypothesis that it will be harder to influence in the coming year.

Firstly, a recent UK survey by Green Shoots Research showed 82% of shopper are going to be more planned in their food and grocery shopping and reflecting this planned mindset, 80% reported they will be less likely to buy on impulse.

This challenge was further reinforced by US insights from the Hartman Group indicating 36% of shopper would be seeking less expensive options in store and 1 in 5 shoppers intend to shop less frequently making winning on each trip more important.

A more planned shopper, shopping less frequently and seeking to avoid impulse decisions is a hard target to influence.  Actively seeking cheaper products in store changes the focus from inspiration to confirmation of a choice.

So we are clear on the problem, but where am I advising my clients to focus their energies in the coming months?


Once again, the shopping list is key.  Whatever format the shoppers use to build their list; written, saved on a phone or electronically as part of their on-line preferences, being on it will be key.  Shoppers are telling us they want to make good choices so you need to help them pre select your offer and commit to the purchase ahead of the shop.

What tools do I think will work pre-store?  Look for deeper engagement solutions such as recipes or meal occasion features, all offer the chance to get the shopper thinking more deeply when in planning mode.  If you are using reward mechanisms to connect pre-store (Competitions or Gift with Purchase) great creative and a compelling reward have never been so important. 


Planned shoppers will be looking to avoid aisle ends and display and many will want the re-assurance of comparing products at shelf.  As a shopper marketer it is probably time to walk in the shoes of your shopper (in-store and online) and take another look at how your key products are presented on their home shelf.

Do you have strong brand blocking?

Do your products key features and benefits cut through?

Do you have shelf communication in your shopper plan to re-activate those key pre-store messages when shopper make that key purchase decision?

Shelf talkers and wobblers are often the last element to be added to any in-store activity but with shoppers more focused than ever on avoiding temptation, executing at the shelf may prove to be a key battle ground for the coming months.


Focusing on these two areas does not remove the need for a focused shopper strategy, clear activation plan and great engagement with everyone bring the plan to life.

Whilst the challenges are changing, the potential for great outcomes from shopper engagement remain a worthwhile prize for all businesses.”

By Neil Arnold, Arnold Category Consulting