Digital Shopper Marketing Targeting Methods 101

Why, and How, to Choose the Best Digital Shopper Marketing Targeting Methods for Your Food Brand to Reach Your Campaign Goals

Successful digital shopper marketing campaigns live and die on a well-developed and strategized approach to targeting consumers.  The key is to capture all the reasons a potential shopper might buy your food product. By doing this, you will get the most reach while minimizing the risk of excluding potential customers.

Fundamental to any food brand’s digital shopper marketing campaign is to define your campaign goals. You start this process by diving into all the consumer-driven insights or reasons why a shopper might place your food products in their shopping cart over your competitors’, whether in a physical store or online.

Before You Begin…

Before you read any further, to be able to use digital shopper marketing targeting methods, you have to have at least some understanding of who your food brand’s ideal customer is.  Sure you can have a lot of hypotheses or anecdotal evidence of who buys your product, but the best strategies come from well-defined market research.

Once you “know” your consumer, you then must understand the different types of targeting methods available. These methods are often referred to as segments. Below are the most commonly used types of targeting segments used in food brand digital shopper marketing…

Attribute Targeting

Attribute targeting is when you target consumers who tend to buy products that are grouped alongside a specific set of attributes that products or brands possess.  Common attributes are targeting consumers who buy plant-based products, gluten-free, organic, or even family size. What’s great about using this targeting method, is it understands the primary factor behind the purchase.

Let’s take targeting consumers plant-based products for example:  According to the Good Food Institute and SPINS retail sales data released in March 2020, dollar sales of plant-based foods grew almost 11% in the past year and 29% over the past two years.

Targeting this type of consumer makes sense if your product is, say, plant-based. It’s reasonable to think if a consumer has tried one plant-based product, they would be more open to trying a similar type of product in the future.  Of course, to be able to use attribute targeting, your product must have a particular product attribute, which not all products possess. Make sure you can claim the attribute before you try this digital shopper marketing targeting method for your food brand.

Geographic Targeting

Another digital shopper marketing targeting method is to target consumers by geographic location.  This allows you to pinpoint a specific group of shoppers within or near a specific location.  I put this as a “core” targeting method since it’s scalable.  What do I mean by this?  Let’s say you’re trying to boost sales of your product at a certain retailer. Geographic targeting is a great way to focus funds to achieve that goal.

Another way to look at this is to make sure you have the product in retailers in a certain location. If you don’t, you’ll just end up making consumers mad. They are seeing your food product advertised but can’t find the product on the shelf.  One negative aspect of the geographic targeting method is that it assumes all shoppers in the specified area are interested in your product. To overcome this assumption in your sales is why a strategic digital shopper marketing program should have multiple layers for targeting consumers.

Behavioral Targeting

This digital shopper marketing targeting method allows brands to display relevant ads and marketing messages to consumers based off of previous browsing history. Ever look up a recipe that uses certain ingredients, only to find your next trip to has those same products in the “suggested for you” section? That is behavioral targeting.

Really good behavioral targeting tied with IRI data can dig deep and even find purchase history. Obviously, past purchases can be predictive of future purchases and are very useful for predictions. But one should also consider targeting lapsed buyers and even consumers who purchase competitors’ products.  However, the behavioral targeting method doesn’t account for brand switching, one-off actions, or even changes in lifestyle.

Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting is a digital shopper marketing method that I refer to this as the most basic. It’s basic because it’s extremely identifiable and easily segmented.  It takes into account all basic groups. These demographics could be gender, age, and household demographics such as income.  This is another type of method that is put into the “core” methods of must-haves.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is the practice of displaying ads based on a website’s content.  This form of targeting may seem similar to our other shopper marketing targeting methods but is a bit nuanced.

Let’s pretend you’ve decided to jump on the low-carb bandwagon. You stumble upon a blog focusing on the low-carb lifestyle.  As you’re perusing the blog and its associated pages, low and behold you start seeing ads for the latest and greatest low-carb alcoholic seltzer.  That is the very definition of contextual targeting.  This targeting method is pretty useful because it includes anyone searching on a relevant topic. However, it’s not clear cut that a particular consumer will really make a purchase of the product. This can lead to a skewed result.

So, there you have it.

Remember you don’t have to pick just one targeting method. In fact, I recommend you don’t. By combining several of the targeting methods above, your food brand has the building blocks for a smart digital shopper marketing campaign.

If you would like to learn more about smart shopper marketing strategies for your food brand, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our “Food for Thought” page. Alternatively, check out NewPoint’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.

If you would like to learn more about smart digital shopper marketing strategies for your food brand, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our “Food for Thought” page. Alternatively, check out NewPoint’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.