With around two thirds of the estimated £900 million that Britons will spend on gifts for their partners for Valentines Day likely to be spent by men, suppliers are being advised to make greater use of shopper insights in order to maximise the benefit of one of the year’s biggest gifting occasions.

Bridgethorne, the customer, category management and shopper marketing specialist, says that suppliers should factor into their planning insights like those included in a study conducted last year which found that men would spend a staggering £611million on presents for their other halves, whereas women will spend just £269 million.

“Flowers, chocolates, perfume and cuddly toys made up four of the top five Valentines gifts last year, which seems to back up the survey’s findings that men are buying the majority of the gifts,” explains Bridgethorne co-founder, John Nevens. “That means that suppliers need to draw on such insights and ensure that the activity they plan around their products is more aimed at the men who are going to actually make the purchasing decision than at the women who are going to be the recipients and the consumers.”

To understand this, says Nevens, suppliers need to accept two important facts: first, your consumers are different to your shoppers and second, that YOUR shoppers are different from the retailer’s shoppers.

“Everyone must understand that that shopper’s needs are always different to the consumer’s needs. Take, for example, a guy buying perfume for his girlfriend or wife on Valentine’s Day. The girlfriend’s consideration set might be that of the scent and personal image.  However, as a ‘shopper’ the boyfriend will likely be influenced by entirely different needs and motivations…price, promotion, display, what the brand he chooses says to his girlfriend about him.  He, in this example, is the one who will make the final purchasing decision, whether in-store or online. However, if he is confronted only by consumer messages, rather than shopper messages, they will never resonate with him and will have little impact upon his purchase decision. Understanding what drives the shopper, the missions they take when they buy and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions is central to long term commercial effectiveness.”

Bridgethorne says that ‘ShopperISM’, its new approach to ‘Integrated Shopper Management’, advises simple processes that can be put in place by suppliers to ensure the shopper is properly catered for in marketing and activation activity.

“Failure to acknowledge and address the strategic role of ‘Your Shopper’ as the bridge between marketing and sales activation means suppliers cannot be certain they are reaching the right people, with the right message and at the right time and place. If this is the case, it must mean that a supplier’s activation activity and the use of their budget must be less than optimal. It could mean it is, at best, not being spent as effectively as it might; at worst, it could be completely wasted.”Bridging this gap by understanding, targeting and engaging with shoppers is clearly critical, says Nevens. Suppliers need to focus more on the shopper’s journey to the point of purchase.  Failure to create a strategic role for the shopper both in their planning and alongside the consumer in the culture of their company means they are not giving themselves the best chance of success