How to activate consumers to purchase

There’s been discussion for years about the “moment of truth” and whether the ultimate — and final — purchase decision is made at the shelf. Shopper behavior in a store has been studied, analyzed, hypothesized and debated. Some would argue there is too much stimuli at the shelf, others not enough. Some may suggest that retail pricing is the key deciding factor. Perhaps it’s category assortment, in-stock condition or shelf-edge signage. Still others suggest competitive positioning is the key determinant.

Given today’s plethora of product information available at a consumer’s fingertips and the influence of friends and family before shopping, I personally believe the moment of truth and consumer activation occurs before the shopper enters the store — if they enter a physical store at all to complete their intended purchase.

The new challenge for marketers may require capturing the consumers' attention and winning their favor at their point of intersection with their pre-shopping homework and realm of personal influence. And, for the brand that is unable to capture this moment, the challenge is to dissuade consumers from purchasing the brand that rose to the top during their homework and pre-shop plans.

Brand engagement will drive purchasing behavior — now and in the future. Lip service without activation WILL NOT drive brand sales or market share during these difficult times.

Activation strategies with the greatest influence on today’s purchase behavior are:

1.    Advertising consumers like — where they like to receive it
2.    Cause-related marketing or community involvement
3.    Highly compelling promotional offers
4.    Connecting consumers with your brand one-to-one

Are these impossible tasks for consumer packaged goods manufacturers, brand managers or retailers? If not, how can focus be effectively recalibrated from the moment of truth to the moment of activation?

Dave Wendland is VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group, a retail healthcare consultancy located near Milwaukee, Wis. He directs business development, product innovation and marketing communications activities for the company and has been instrumental in positioning HRG among the industry’s foremost thought leaders. You may contact him at (414) 431-5301 or learn more at


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