Guide: Understanding Consumer Shopper Behaviour

Written by 
Dee Set Staff
23 January, 2023

Analysing shopper behaviour can feel like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. Key to understanding what makes customers tick, no retail strategy is complete - or even effective - without this insight. 

Identifying why shoppers make certain purchase decisions whilst others don’t puts you in a better position to achieve your wider business goals. Keep your customers happy. Boost your business longevity. Increase your return on investment. All obvious wins, but a lot of retailers miss out because they don’t quite get who their customers are.

So, where to begin?

The consumer. An ever-changing, ever-demanding entity seen flocking into supermarkets and retail stores every week. Picture The Walking Dead but with much more vigour and shopping baskets as their weapons. A scary image, right? But don't worry, we have a wealth of industry expertise and experience to help you understand your target customer's expectations, what motivates them to make a purchase and what keeps them coming back for more. 

  • Who are they?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What makes them reach for one product over another?

In this guide, we will observe and analyse the consumer in their natural habitat to gain a comprehensive understanding of shopper behaviour and how these valuable insights can inform your field marketing decisions. 

Our job is simple. Position your products in a way that forces your customers to stop in their tracks and feel compelled to add them to their baskets.

Read on to learn more…

What does shopper behaviour mean?

In a nutshell, shopper behaviour refers to the study of how customers behave, their shopping habits, and how they make a buying decision. It encompasses the actions and emotional responses of consumers throughout the shopping process, giving a holistic view of how they interact with your products in an in-store environment. 

Importantly, shopper behaviour analysis will be the first to indicate a shift in marketing trends, saving resources in the long run and unlocking opportunities for growth. 

Using a data-driven approach, we will gather consumer insights to identify buying preferences and patterns.

With a hundred stores to choose from and a thousand products to explore and compare, understanding your audience and placing the shopper at the centre of your strategy is critical. 

There are several aspects of shopper behaviour to take into consideration. These are just a few that we have up our sleeve: 

  • Popular products
  • Store navigation
  • Emotional responses
  • Preferred time to buy (e.g. morning, afternoon or evening)

From the moment consumers waltz through those glass doors, you need to capture their attention. Whether it's eye-catching colours, strategically stocked shelves, or enticing offers, our retail merchandising services will set your products apart from the off.

What are customer insights?

Customer insights are long-term trends in data, consumer behaviour and feedback that help you gain a deeper understanding of how your target audience thinks and feels. You can then leverage this data to: 

  • Determine optimal pricing
  • Enhance your current offerings
  • Personalise and tailor your products
  • Expand your in-store selection

Listen to your customers. Their opinion is like gold dust to your business, and understanding how they operate within a physical shopping environment is fundamental to your success. 

To us, customer insights are essential. Alongside your products, your consumers are the driving force of your business. Combining customer analytics with market research data will provide a granular understanding of who they are, their needs and their shopping behaviours. This will help you make data-driven decisions that benefit both you and your customers, as well as future-proofing your business. From there, it's full steam ahead!

As a leading field marketing agency, we can help remove the guesswork by using customer insights to analyse shopping patterns and provide context to consumer trends. 

The four types of buyers

Let's play 'pick your buyer persona'...

Without getting too soppy, we know that everyone is different, and this applies to the customers that frequent your store. 

Personality traits are one of the main factors that can influence the shopping process. Some customers will march into a store and know what they want. Others will be more inclined to browse. Understanding how to appeal to the various buyer types will help you to make strategic improvements to your retail marketing and ultimately maximise your sales.

1. The analytical buyer

Motivated by logic, they will carefully compare various products before making an informed purchase decision. Providing concise, clearly-labelled information is one way to twist their arm. 

2. The amiable buyer

Motivated by stability and cooperation, this friendly bunch find it difficult to make big purchase decisions. Whether it's deploying an enthusiastic brand advocate or creating an engaging endcap display, give them a reason to choose your product. 

3. The driver buyer

Fearful of being taken advantage of, driver buyers are goal-oriented and decisive. Impatience is their middle name so emphasising why they need your product early on is key.

4. The expressive buyer

Creative and intuitive types, these consumers are motivated by recognition and value personalisation. For them, an enticing visual merchandising strategy will do nicely. 

Avoid categorising customers into rigid buyer personas - the majority will be a mixture of two or more of the above. 

Why analyse shopper behaviour?

Without analysing shopper behaviour, you may as well scatter your products around the retail store, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. Please don't do that - we beg of you! 

In a physical store, there are several factors that can alter shopper behaviour and getting them just right will provide a positive shopping experience and push your products into the open arms of customers. Think Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The shopping environment can drastically impact customer experience. For example, a confusing store layout, intense background music, rude store assistants and poor product placement is a recipe for disaster. Luckily, our team of retail merchandising experts are pros when it comes to optimising brick-and-mortar stores and will create a seamless customer journey that allows your products to really shine. 

Although challenging to predict, physiological responses also play a significant role in shopper behaviour. In other words, mood matters. Addressing your customers' basic needs, as well as the security needs, in your retail strategy will help to motivate them to invest in your product.

How a customer perceives your product is also critical in the decision-making process. So, first impressions matter. As does ensuring the advertisements, promotions, and branding surrounding your in-store merchandise are impactful enough to generate a sense of necessity around the products. 

The evolution of shopper behaviour

For the most part, the days of the simple grocery shop run are far behind us. With the rise of the digital space and its endless possibilities, shopping behaviour has and is continuously evolving - there's no question about that. 

Once upon a time, shopper behaviour could be broken down into 3 simple categories:

1. The weekly shop at a large supermarket

2. The top-up at a smaller convenience store

3. The daily essentials at your local grocery shop

Today, we have a modern omnichannel retail environment that has drastically altered the way that we, as consumers, shop. The wonderful world of the internet has led to the integration of shopping into the home environment, with the ability to order your entire monthly shop from your sofa (with your slippers on) - bridging the gap between consumption and shopping. 

This movement away from physical stores meant shoppers could compare prices and products on a larger scale, leading to the rise of the bargain hunter and the erosion of traditional brand loyalty. Not to mention the emergence of specialist and subscription retailers - cue fancy coffee and meal kits. 

Some key market trends to mull over…

Rise of the conscious shopper

An increased focus on sustainability has created a new era of conscious shoppers. Highlighting this core value on your in-store products, whether that's through bold signs, a colour scheme, or on the packaging itself, will appeal to this consumer group and positively impact sales. Fail to keep up with the trends and your products will remain on the shelf.

Ripple effect of the Covid pandemic

The dramatic impact that Covid has had on consumer shopping behaviour has led to an unprecedented growth in online consumerism, a craving for convenience, as well as an increase in panic buying. We all remember the manic scramble for toilet paper, tins and hand sanitiser! 

With these new consumer expectations likely to stick around in a post-pandemic world, securing longevity, brand loyalty, and a growth in sales rests on a strong field marketing strategy that prioritises the consumer’s wants and needs. 

Evolving tactics of brick-and-mortar stores

These days, holiday shopping is beginning earlier and earlier as consumers aim to avoid the annual rush for Christmas crackers, Easter eggs, and chocolates that say ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s Day. In other words, remaining in the safety of your own home, safe from flying brussel sprouts and desperate gift givers, has become the preferred choice for many. 

Competing with the myriad of enticing online ads and next-day deliveries makes driving in-store consumer engagement and product sales a little trickier. 

So, brick-and-mortar stores responded...

Although online shopping ticks the convenience box, the physical store environment offers a tangible experience that immerses the consumer in a world of brand bliss. Never more so than with the try-before-you-buy approach, which is another avenue that most retailers have lent into - whether it's delicious deli tasters or perfume samples. 

From displays to demos, ambience to cleverly organised aisles, there are numerous tactics used by shopper marketers to intercept the consumer at multiple points of their path to purchase. 

That's where we come in. With a kick-ass field marketing strategy, driven by key market trends and shopper behaviour insights, your products will be singing from the shelves.

We may be biased, but we much prefer a casual stroll across the cereal aisle over a soulless scroll on some app. Don't you? 

How does shopper behaviour impact your retail strategy?

Shoppers are the heart of the in-store home and their behaviour will, and should, have a significant impact on your retail strategy. 

The emergence of key trends go hand in hand with understanding shopper behaviour, and being able to identify, analyse and react to their fluctuations is key to keeping up with the competition. 

AI-based tools are another form of shopper behaviour analysis that give real-time insights, such as tracking the movement of people over specific time periods and reading their emotions as they interact with your products. This will help form a wider understanding of consumer shopping behaviour and enable you to adapt your retail strategy, such as changing the store layout to improve functionality or even providing forms of entertainment. 

Speaking of entertainment, in-store product demonstrations are a great way to hook consumers during the shopping process, enhancing the experience and increasing brand visibility. 

Not to toot our own horn, but we have a proven track record of delivering successful in-store brand awareness campaigns that harness customer insights. As our case studies show, organising creative and educational demonstrations is a great way to promote your products, whether that’s a seasonal favourite or a new launch, and boost sales.  

Let's not forget about customer service. 

Retail staff play a big role in the overall shopping experience, and friendly employees make for happy consumers. By coaching them to not only become advocates but the embodiment of your brand's values and ethos, your products will be represented in the best light and sales will go through the roof. 

Providing a positive shopping experience will also contribute to an increase in customer retention. 

Looking to understand your consumer’s shopping behaviour and maximise sales? Here’s how Dee Set can help you

With a people-led approach to field marketing, we will work with you to develop and deliver a fool-proof retail strategy that appeals to the modern consumer and drives sales. Our purpose is to take away the headache of shifting shopper expectations and find practical and innovative solutions that make a real difference. 

As experts in understanding shopper behaviour, our passionate team has years of professional experience when it comes to the ways of the consumer - both in the field and behind-the-scenes data analysis. We can help you stay relevant in the market, increase profitability, and instil fear in your competitors. A triple threat! 

If you’d like to learn more about Dee Set and the services we can offer to your business, you can check out some of our success stories here!

Alternatively, give us a call or fill out our online form to get started with our retail tech!

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