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Published October 24th 2016

Consumer Marketing: Targeted Positioning in Crowded Markets

Consumer marketing should be used to place your product or service into the best category for success, with consideration of the competitors in that space.

Consumer marketing and shopper marketing might sound like the same thing, but traditionally they have been separate disciplines. While these two spheres have become more entwined in recent years, they still play an important role in modern marketing.

Consumer marketing should place your brand, service or product into the best category for success. Research should consider how your product is being positioned and which competitors you face in that category.

What’s the difference between shopper marketing and consumer marketing?

The terms shopper marketing and consumer marketing originated in a time when all shopping was done on the high street. Back then, the distinction made a lot of sense: how you get someone into the store and how you get them to actually purchase could be split into two separate disciplines.

Shopper marketing is concerned with understanding how individuals behave as shoppers in the retail environment and leveraging these insights to improve all relevant aspects of marketing.

Consumer marketing and shopper marketing focus on different people

Consumer marketing is a separate discipline and is more concerned with what happens outside of the store. Understanding the target market through consumer insights is vital to optimize brand and product positioning.

Essentially, consumer marketing wants to get into the shopper’s product consideration set, whereas shopper marketing wants to get into the basket.

The rise of e-commerce has made the distinction between inside and outside the store much more problematic. However, consumer marketing can still be used to position the product in the best possible market.

The changing customer journey

The difference between shopper marketing and consumer marketing are far more blurred in the age of the customer.

Even if somebody is in the middle of a mall, they can pull out their smartphone and research products and alternate options, as 82% of consumers do. When they do this, the traditional consumer marketing definition would place them outside the store, acting as a consumer.

Conversely, shoppers now have the entire high street available at their fingers and can be ‘inside’ a shop even when they are at home on the couch.

customer journey

Getting in the right consideration set

The buyer journey starts with a need and transitions through awareness, consideration, choice, and purchase. As consumers move through each set, the number of brands decrease.

This can now happen quicker than ever before. It might even happen within the space of minutes while they browse on their tablet.

The barrier of entry to new brands and products is so low that the market is crowded with options in every conceivable niche. The availability of information for the shopper is such that they will find these options.

This makes it more important than ever to be part positioning yourself into the correct consideration set. Brands need to know which market consumers view them as part of.

They have to know the needs and wants of the consumers in that market. They have to know that a market actually exists. The healthy-living industry is booming, but if you position yourself as a healthy ice cream you are unlikely to succeed. People don’t look for healthy options when selecting ice cream; it’s an indulgence.

Getting it right can have a significant impact. An impressive example of finding the right consideration set is that of Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du Soleil, who changed their consideration set

In 1984, the circus industry was in decline. Competing interests meant children were no longer asking to be taken to the circus. Animal rights campaigners had impacted the use of animals.

Rather than pitching themselves against other circuses for a dwindling set of customers, Cirque du Soleil changed their positioning.

They reasoned that the circus could be an alternative to going to the theater, cinema, or musical. With a polished product and focused consumer marketing, the brand appealed to a new group of customers.

Cirque du Soleil has now been visited by more than 90 million people in over 271 countries and employs over 4,000 people.

Using consumer marketing to strengthen your positioning

Undertaking a market analysis will help you understand the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities you face.

You also need to understand what consumers currently think of your brand and if there are gaps in the market. Social consumer market insights can reveal details about your current or prospective audience.

Social intelligence can reveal brand associations, which brands are viewed as competitors, sentiment, and which product features are most popular.

Social media research can provide a much richer understanding of how your customers view your product. Analyzing customers organic conversations, at scale and in detail, can provide insight that leads to action.

By understanding audience perceptions and positioning products differently, brands in crowded spaces can find their own niche and reduce the competition.

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