The marketing mix for shopping products

In many marketing textbooks, when discussing the product mix, the consumer product classification system is often a model that is presented. Please note that there are several articles on this website relating to the consumer product classification system – please refer to Related Topics at the end of this article.

As a quick recap, in the consumer product classification scheme products are classified into four related groups, which are: convenience products, shopping products, specialty products and unsought products. However, this particular article discusses how the consumer products classification system helps guide marketers with the design of their marketing mix for shopping products only. (Please refer to Related Topics at the end of this article for the marketing mix implications for the other categories of products.)

Examples of shopping products include cameras, household furniture, washing machines, clothing, sports equipment – see this article for more examples of shopping products.

Designing the marketing mix for shopping products

Product mix

Shopping products are typically compared in-store on a side-by-side basis. As a result, it is necessary to have clear points of differentiation. When it comes to shopping products such as furniture, clothing, shoes, and even mobile phones – the style, look, shape, texture, and so on can be critical factors, in addition to the more functional product attributes. Therefore, one way of differentiating the product is through its style and look.

Product augmentation is also more important in this category of product. This may include free warranties, installation services, free delivery, financing, access to online support, and so on. Product augmentation is important as it differentiates the product from its competitors, as well as reducing the risk of a bad purchase to the consumer. Therefore, in many cases, it may be the key purchase decision factor to win the business.

If the shopping product is one of many items in the product line – such as a collection of household furniture – then it will not be possible to display the full product range in the retailer’s store. This will necessitate the need to catalogs that are easily available in store (which would actually form part of the promotional mix).

Pricing mix

Shopping products, by the style product that they are, are usually higher priced items. Please see the list of examples for shopping products.

It is important to note that price is one attribute only in the consumer’s overall evaluation and comparison between competing brands. Consumers will be naturally attracted to strong brands, particularly for product categories where they have limited purchasing experience. This means that weaker brands typically need to be priced below the major brands to represent suitable value, given that these weaker brands presents a higher risk decision for a consumer.

General sales promotions are likely to be less effective than for convenience products. This is because consumers are less aware of the average price. Pricing incentives that include financing offers or cash-back offers are more likely to be successful (refer to promotional mix below).

Some types of shopping products are clearly seasonal purchases, perhaps around Christmas time; therefore some price discounting may be appropriate at that time.

Place mix

The key to success for a manufacturer of shopping products is to gain access to the relevant retailers. Consumers will generally seek out the retailer first for this style of product, providing the retailer with significant power and influence in the marketplace and with the purchase decision.

The need to access retail distribution necessitates a number of trade promotion initiatives, as discussed in the promotional mix below.

Shopping products differ from convenience products, in that it is not a matter of simply maximizing retailers. While convenience products benefit from intensive distribution, shopping products need to be placed selectively into retailers – that is, retailers that will support the brand image. As a simple example, you would not look to place expensive shoes into a discount store, as this would weaken the brand equity.

As we know, many retailers prefer strongly branded products in their stores. This is because this will help attract the majority of consumers who are looking for well-known brands. As a result, for weaker brands in the marketplace, it may be necessary to target smaller and/or individual retailers who may be looking for to offer merchandise that is differentiated from its major retailer competitors.

Smaller or local manufacturers of shopping products may also look to have a direct retail channel. For example, a furniture manufacturer (with a relatively unknown brand) may choose to sell direct to the public through their factory.

In addition, many smaller manufacturers (and indeed some larger ones) will have a direct online channel, which enables to the brand to access the market without a retailer. Brands that sell through retailers and directly online will need to work on ensuring that channel conflict is minimized.

Promotional mix

As suggested by the name, shopping products are those products that consumers will shop around for. As a result of this consumer behavior, consumers will often select the retailer first and then pick and choose a product from the offering in the store. For example, if a consumer is looking to purchase a camera then they are quite likely to identify a well-known electronics store to go and find a suitable camera.

Because of the increased importance of the retailer in the consumer’s shopping actions, shopping products will often benefit from “push marketing”. This is where the majority of the marketing efforts (for promotion) are targeted at the retailer (and wholesaler if applicable). Therefore, personal selling, sales training, product knowledge and support and attractive trade promotions are important in order to win some floor/display space in the retailer.

The more common trade promotions to implement would include: discounts/price incentives, slotting allowances (pay for preferred in-store position), advertising in the retailer’s catalog, staff or store sales commissions, consumer finance deals, and so on.

Supportive point-of-purchase (POP) displays would also be an effective promotional tool. POP displays will help attract in-store attention to the brand or products. In addition, cash-back offers (a consumer focused sales promotion) is another effective way of generating in-store attention and gaining the support of sales staff.


The consumer products classification system
How products are classified in the consumer products classification system
Examples of the different classes in the consumer products classification system
Why the consumer products classification system is used
The marketing mix for convenience products
The marketing mix for specialty products
The marketing mix for unsought products

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