Soundview Executive Book Summaries

How Unilever Pulled An Upset

The release of this month’s edition of Soundview allows me to discuss a news story that cropped up earlier this month. I read this press release from Business Wire about the annual ranking from The Hub magazine for excellence in shopper marketing. Unilever, the conglomerate that owns hundreds of product brands, topped the shopper marketing charts over long-time competitor Procter & Gamble. This is a considerable triumph for Unilever and indicates a commitment on the part of the company to the practice of shopper marketing.

It reminded me of one of the keys to this marketing segment. Markus Stahlberg, co-editor of the book Shopper Marketing: How to Increase Purchase Decisions at the Point of Sale, makes the point that many retailers and brand-holders fail to separate the shopper from the consumer. The two are not always the same person.

It took me some time to consider this concept, but I thought of an example to which many people can relate. Picture a parent walking down the cereal aisle of the grocery store without his child in tow. The parent is playing the role of the shopper. The absentee child is the consumer. If, like many parents, this Dad has trouble remembering exactly which sugar-infused cereal is currently causing his tot’s heart to palpitate, he’s left to his own decision-making abilities. While the child is normally drawn to everything from bright colors on the box to whatever giveaway is on offer, the parent locks his sights on the box that says, “A Healthier Choice for Your Child.” This is a case where the marketing is directed at the shopper, rather than the consumer.

To learn more about the principles of this rising area of marketing study, be sure to read Soundview’s summary of Shopper Marketing, available now at!


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