New research that suggests that 70% of all retail spending in the UK comes from only 18% of shoppers reinforces the importance for brands of understanding the difference between shoppers and consumers and targeting their marketing activity accordingly.

That’s the view of category, customer management and shopper marketing specialist Bridgethorne following the publication of research by Deloitte, which says these ‘super shoppers’ are men and women aged 25 to 44. The report says these people are twice as likely to shop using a mobile phone or a tablet or using a ‘click and collect’ facility.

John Nevens, co-founder of Bridgethorne, says this is a result of a fundamental shift in the retail landscape that has placed the shopper in the position of ultimate power. He says that a failure to recognise and act upon this could render suppliers increasingly impotent.  Fully integrating the shopper into an organisation’s existing strategy, planning and activation processes will lead to more effective commercial investment, without necessarily actually requiring more commercial investment.

“Suppliers need to know who these people are and what motivates them. They need to know that they are sending the right messages to the right people at the right time. At present, they cannot be sure they are achieving this,” he explains.

“There are obvious differences between consumers and shoppers. Women buy around 75% of all bottled beer in the UK yet men consume 95%, mums buying hair product for their teenage sons or almost any gifting occasion. The shopper will have a number of factors that will influence their purchase, from convenience, to budget, to brand loyalty to reflected glory – what the purchase says about them to others. Consumers have a totally different set of motivations.”

Part of this, Nevens says, has been due to socio-demographic changes, from an ageing population to the rise of single occupancy households; through multi-format retailing to take account of our continuing drive for convenience; the way technology has given shoppers more choice and independence than they have ever had before as well as other factors such as a move towards, for example, more ethnic foods and a greater choice in how we want products to be presented to us.

Nevens claims retailers have responded in this battle for shopper loyalty by rapidly diversifying their ‘route to shopper’ models.

“There is no such thing anymore as just a supermarket. Now the shopper can choose between large format hypermarkets and superstores; smaller convenience stores; forecourt shops and online, as well as the growth in own brand and retailer-owned consumer products, which are being treated as proprietary consumer brands in the intensifying battle for shopper loyalty.”

Nevens says that bridging this gap by understanding, targeting and engaging with shoppers is clearly critical. 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.