Building a bridge between brands and customers with shopper marketing

Customers have mixed feelings when it comes to brands. Some shoppers love brands and only make a purchase when they find products from their favorite brands, also known as brand loyalty. Other shoppers won’t ever read the label before putting the product in the cart. This is because they simply buy the product, not the brand.

However, in a world filled with brands, product variations, and alternatives, what can brands do to really connect with their customers and to “build an invisible bridge” between them and shoppers?

With social media, this seems to be an easy task, but what about brick-and-mortar stores? Changing the channel means changing the approach or just the tools?

In this article, we are going to talk more about shopper marketing and how it can help brands connect with customers in brick-and-mortar stores. First, let’s see what shopper marketing really is.

Understanding shopper marketing

Shopper marketing is a “younger” type of marketing when compared to the good, old trade marketing. Shopper marketing is a discipline that focuses on making the shopping experience better for customers. It is very different from traditional advertising and promotions that try to increase brand awareness overall.

Shopper marketing is a type of last-minute advertising because it influences customers when they are ready to make a purchase. Commonly, shopper marketing is performed in brick and mortar stores. However, considering the rise in online shopping, this discipline can also be integrated into digital marketing.

Caring for the shopper and their needs has an impact on sales, of course. With the help of this type of marketing, brands can also make shoppers feel connected with them and offer a familiar feeling.

When customers are in “shopping mode” they act differently than how they act at any other given time. That’s when shopper marketing comes in to analyze customers when they are shopping and discover what they like and dislike.

By offering people a great shopping experience in brick and mortar stores, brands will gain loyal customers and shoppers will feel like brands care about them.

Why is it so important to connect with customers?

Connecting with customers, not just selling

Connecting with customers

Remember those small stores right at the corner of the street where the owner knew you and knew exactly what you were looking for? Shoppers love this kind of familiar feeling. They want to see that brands know them and care about their needs. As it is impossible to know every one of your customers, shopper marketing comes with the right tools to help you connect with customers in stores.

Customers feel the need to connect with brands even on social media. Statistics show that 83% of consumers admit paying as much attention to how brands treat them as on the product they are selling.

Also, 64% of customers want brands to connect with them on social media. The connection is not in vain as customers who feel connected with brands will end up purchasing more or choosing that brand over a competitor.

On social media, it’s easier to build a bridge between your brand and your loyal shoppers. However, how can you do the same in brick-and-mortar stores?

By using the right brand activation solutions! With Tokinomo, a robotic POSM, you will be able to implement a shopper marketing campaign that will make customers feel amazing.

Want to do an in-store influencer marketing campaign without having the influencer come to the store? You can record the influencer and use Tokinomo to spread the message right at the shelf. Also, you have the opportunity to include storytelling as one of your shopper marketing tactics at the point of purchase.

Ready to connect with your customers? Let’s take a look at the best shopper marketing tactics:

Shopper marketing in brick and mortar stores

There are a lot of shopper marketing tactics brands can use to build a bridge between themselves and customers. Let’s take a look at two of the best tactics that will help you offer customers an amazing shopping experience while also increasing sales in brick and mortar stores.

1.   Loyalty programs

One of the best shopper marketing tactics that will help you make people feel special and connect with your brand is a loyalty program. When you implement a loyalty program people will be eager to shop more to have a special status. When they become loyal customers they receive special discounts and free products.

loyalty program

You can try the old-fashioned way with a physical card where you put stamps for each purchase or create an app where shoppers can log in and also see what they can gain for making a purchase.

2.   In-store events

While 2021 was not the ideal year for in-store events, it seems like 2022 might leave us a window of opportunity. By the end of the year, in-store events might be available again, and trust us, people are eager to participate in events.

An in-store event gives your brand the opportunity to connect directly with customers. Also, shoppers can find out more about your brand and your products.

Apart from these two effective shopper marketing tactics, you should also focus on offering great customer service. When customers want to find out more about your products or when they have a problem, be available and understanding.

Connecting with your customers doesn’t mean you need to know each person in real life, it means that you understand them and their needs and that you try to offer them the best shopping experience. While we are talking about shopper experience, let’s not forget about shoppertainment. What’s that you ask?!

Shoppertainment: Seeking the experience before the purchase

What is shoppertainment

What is shoppertainment?

As its name implies, shoppertainment means the entertainment of shoppers. People are constantly looking to be entertained. Because of social media and the constant waves of content and information that are being shared, people want to be informed, entertained, and engaged, even when they are completing a chore like grocery shopping.


Because the more we are entertained, the more we feel the need for it. Unlike the need for food, which stops when you feel full, the need for entertainment just keeps on coming. Since we are used to being entertained at home and even in the workspace, we crave the same level of excitement in our day-by-day activities, like shopping.

Yes, online shopping can be entertaining and many eCommerce platforms even offer personalized shopping journeys. However, we are social animals and we need to be around others. The pandemic made us crave social interaction even more. This is why people come to the store for the whole shopping experience. They don’t just want products, they want social interaction, entertainment, and convenience.

Convenience and entertainment in-store

People are coming to the store because they want their products now. They don’t want to wait for an online order to be delivered. Plus, they want to be able to smell, touch and see the products before they purchase them. While online shopping is convenient because you don’t have to get out of the house, you still have to wait for the products to arrive and it is a solo experience.

In-store, you can share the shopping experience with other shoppers, the people you came with, and the staff. However, while offering an in-store experience is important, retailers must also focus on convenience. Making every touchpoint in the shopping journey as friction-free as possible.

For instance, 60% of consumers listed waiting in line as frustrating. See what you can do as a retailer to eliminate that step. You can offer a BOPIS option or even self-checkout.

Another common problem in-store is the stock. It is impossible for a store to have every possible item in stock. However, to eliminate friction, you could have a website where people could check and see if the products they are looking for are available in one of your stores. This way, they can plan their shopping journey accordingly.

A combination of technology and human interaction

technology to entertain your shoppers

Thankfully, technology has evolved so much in the last few years and it can come as a helping hand for retailers that want to offer customers a convenient and amazing experience in stores. You can use technology to entertain your shoppers.

Because there are so many ads nowadays, people are banner blind. This means that they won’t even notice what’s written on a cardboard display. That’s why you need to find better, more innovative ways to attract their attention and make them purchase more.

You can offer an experience with retail tech. Apart from digital displays that can attract attention, there are also robotic POP displays that will also engage with customers because they can make products promote themselves.

While technology can help you with shoppertainment, you can’t forget about the human touch. The staff plays a major role because people don’t engage with brands, they engage with other people. As Shep Hyken states, your staff has an awesome responsibility. They are the image of your brand. The way they treat your customers is the way they will feel about your store. Make sure that your staff is well trained and that it cares about the customers.

All in all, shoppers are seeking more than just products when they step into the store. You need to be able to provide information and an entertaining experience. Use all of your assets, from your staff to retail tech to make sure that you provide the best for your customers.

Engaging customers right at the point of purchase can be challenging. However, you need to find the right solutions for your shoppers. Give shopper marketing a try and don’t forget about the importance of shoppertainment when you’re implementing your next campaign.

Author bio:

Nicoleta Niculescu is a Content Marketing Specialist at Tokinomo, an in-store, interactive, brand activation POS/POP display startup. Tokinomo shelf advertising robots create memorable and meaningful shopper experiences. Tokinomo powers creative and scalable experiential marketing campaigns.

Tina Johnson helped bring The Marketing Folks from a-weekly newsletter to a full-fledged news site by creating a new website and branding. She continues to assist in keeping the site responsive and well organized for the readers. As a contributor to The Marketing Folks, Tara mainly covers industry new.