A fish finger eater’s driver may be taste, but the shopper might want them to contain omega-3

Terry Leahy was famous for saying that when he was in the boardroom he championed the shopper. Their voice was the only one the board should listen to and what the shopper wanted was everything.

How would you rate your understanding of your shopper, out of 10? Would about six be fair?

Right. Let’s take a closer look at ‘the shopper’ and then score your understanding once more. The person who buys your product may be only one third of the answer. We could break them down into three parts: the shopper, the preparer and the eater. The shopper is the person who pushes the trolley or carries the basket – and pays. The preparer is the one who prepares the food (assuming it is a food product). The eater, meanwhile, is the one who actually consumes the product. For example, mum buys some fish fingers, dad cooks them and the kids eat them. Some categories have three parts, others two. Rarely is there just one part.

The reason this is important is because each of the three has different wants. We split these ‘wants’ into a further three areas: barriers, needs and drivers. For example, a shopper’s barrier could be price, a preparer’s need might be clear cooking instructions, while the eater’s driver could be that they taste good. You can take each of the barriers, needs and drivers, and place them against each of the three parts of the shopper. Using our fish fingers example, the eater’s driver may be taste, but the shopper might want them to contain omega-3. A barrier prevents the shopper, preparer or eater from buying, using or eating the product. A need is simply what they each want as a basic expectation, and a driver is something each of them wants in order to buy, use or eat more of the product.

Now how would you now rate your understanding of the shopper, out of 10? Less than six, now?

That’s OK. The challenge is to then know the nine parts of this equation, and strive to deliver each part. For example, if the preparer can’t read the small cooking instructions and can’t find his glasses, make the cooking instructions bigger or tell him to ask Alexa for help.

You can find a simple free template online if you Google ‘Identifying customer needs, barriers and drivers using this template’.