Understanding In-Market

Effective shopper marketing strategies require reaching out to shoppers who are “in-market.”

What is “in-market”?

According to The Digital Marketing Glossary, in-market is “a form of online behavioral targeting that allows advertisers to target consumers who are considering buying a given product or service.” Shopper marketing insights tell us it’s a little narrower than that: it’s someone who is actively shopping for a certain product at a given time.

This is a basic definition of in-market, yet there is much more behind the concept. Defining “in-market” with greater granularity provides essential knowledge for the best use of advertising dollars. A seller’s or advertiser’s work will truly achieve potency when the organization realizes that to be effective, it must reach the right in-market segments.

In practice, five segments of consumers will see most digital ads. Only two of them are truly “in-market” for your products. Here are all five segments:

  1. Out-of-market non-buyers. These consumers don’t care to buy your product now and never will care—like a person allergic to fish doesn’t buy fish. Advertisers should avoid appeals to the out-of-market non-buyer.
  2. Formerly in-Market, Post-Purchase: This consumer has already made a purchase. Unfortunately, most ad technology can’t tell when a shopper makes a purchase, so it continues to show the ads. Re-targeting like this is a common practice that can really annoy the post-purchase consumer. Why advertise a new refrigerator to someone who just bought one three weeks ago? It’s like the proverbial sales person who keeps selling after the customer says “Yes.”
  3. Prospective Buyer, Not Currently In-Market: These consumers have the potential to buy but are not actively making purchase decisions. An example might be a car owner whose car runs fine now but is likely to buy a new one later and may be receptive to ads. While a seller might persuade the prospective buyer to build a preference for certain brands over time, it’s best to limit ads to this target unless you know the time to purchase.
  4. Seller-Initiated, Active In-Market: A person who becomes interested in a category because of ads or marketing by a seller and is actively shopping. This group can be divided into two sub-categories: active and latent. Active in-market shoppers are ready to receive new information on a product to help them make a purchase, and sellers take advantage of it. Latent in-market shoppers may have a problem the product solves but are not actively seeking solutions until they are brought to their attention by advertisers. Both groups are reasonable targets.
  5. Consumer-Initiated, Active In-Market: This last segment is the most opportune. The consumer-initiated, active, in-market shopper proactively ventures out to research information on products without a push from the seller. This shopper is primed to purchase and most receptive to advertising.

How can you best reach in-market shoppers?

The easiest place to find them is in the store. Active in-market shoppers take themselves to the retailer (physically or digitally). Their interest is apparent when they’re standing right in front of or clicking on a product for prospective purchase. These shoppers are the bull’s eye on the marketing target.

The question is how well are you targeting active In-market buyers?

One of the best ways for shopper marketing to reach the in-market audiences is to start optimizing your ads for the in-store experience. You may find that sweet spot that turns an in-market consumer into a buyer.