Top Shoppers: What are you saying to yours?


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How to conduct a Top Shopper Audit to see if you need to add content designed for your heaviest buyers

Top Shoppers are extremely valuable to brands. Are you investing enough in loyalty-building communications designed specifically to keep your heavy buyers in the franchise? Are you crafting meaningful and relevant messages that are hitting the sweet spot with your core of Top Shoppers?

Doesn’t every brand want to keep their heaviest buyers? It makes sense given the current and future economic value a heavy buyer represents to the franchise. In Top Shoppers: Are they your Top Priority? I outlined how to fully value this core of buyers, citing research showing heavy buyers are extremely valuable not only to this year’s sales and profits, but to future years’ earnings. The article demonstrated that heavy buyers typically have higher retention rates, higher share of requirements, and lower need for discounts. But maybe the most insightful highlight in that article was how heavy buyers can be unique compared to buyers at lower levels. Heavy buyers often carry unique demographic and psychographic profiles, display very different purchase behaviors, and have different needs and motivations when compared to buyers at lower purchases levels.

Conduct a Top Shopper Communications Audit
To determine whether more Top Shopper Communications could help you strengthen the bond between your core customers and your brand, try conducting a Top Shopper Communications Audit. I suggest you start by stapling yourself to a heavy buyer (only figuratively, of course) and ask yourself these questions…

What are you saying?
Are you just repeating the same base level messages approved for all audiences? Or are you talking about the brand in deeper ways to help them gain a better understanding about your brand. If you find that you aren’t really saying anything different to your Top Shoppers than any other buyer, chances are you need to say more.

Where are you saying it?
Are you only talking to heavy buyers through your loyalty program? If so, then you are greatly limiting your chances to reach your Top Shoppers and should probably think about how to deliver messages through other channels? For more on this topic, read Loyalty Program Membership vs. Mass Loyalty Building Initiatives ( which encourages you to bridge the gap so you don’t limiting the number of brand relationships you can have.

When are you saying it?
Are you only communicating with them at scheduled points in time that align with loyalty program participation? Or are you creating Loyalty Moments, loyalty-building communication opportunities that align with their use of the brand. These are the moments when their interest in the brand is renewed and you have an opportunity to deliver deeper about-the-brand content.

How are you saying it?
Are you talking to them as if they were brand experts? Are you talking about the brand the way they use it and appreciate it? Are you making them feel special and appreciated? Or are you talking to them in the same style and tone as you talk to all buyers?

If you’re like many clients who have gone through this exercise, you may come to the eye-opening conclusion that “just reaching heavy buyers with generic messages in a few channels isn’t enough.”

Heavy buyers are a breed apart. They are more familiar and interested in the brand than anyone else in your franchise. And unless you and your marketing team are heavy users of the product you’re responsible for marketing, they may even understand and appreciate the brand at a deeper level than you do. Your Top Shoppers understand how to use the brand and its core benefits, so seeing your advertising one more time won’t do anything to deepen their feelings of commitment. In fact, it may insult them.

Top Shoppers are special and valuable and deserve to be communicated with in ways that resonate with them. So if you’re not designing content that is designed specifically to hit the sweet spot of your Top Shoppers, think about how you can design messages that will deepen their connection with the brand and make them feel special and appreciated. Don’t they deserve it?

Deb Rapacz
Deb Rapacz helps brands and non profit organizations build a solid core of highly-committed buyers or donors. She is a highly-rated marketing instructor at St. Xavier University and conducts research on the psychology of brand commitment and consumer engagement.


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