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Primal Shopper: Unlocking Shopper DNA to Power Your Marketing

Primal Shopper: Unlocking Shopper DNA to Power Your Marketing

By Eric Bowe
The nature of shopping seems very random – like shopper journeys intertwined in a retail chaos. The reality is our shopping behaviors are quite orderly, consistent, and predictable. Shoppers have innate motivations driving their decision making – think of it like a Shopper DNA.

Hosted by Eric Bowe, the author of Primal Shopper, this podcast focuses on the primal motivations driving our shopper behaviors and how to apply this knowledge to improve your marketing.

The audience for this podcast are marketers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who is interested in why we shop the way we do.
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Episode 18: COVID Shopping: Is this the Dark Ages or a Renaissance for shopper behaviors?

Primal Shopper: Unlocking Shopper DNA to Power Your Marketing

Episode 18: COVID Shopping: Is this the Dark Ages or a Renaissance for shopper behaviors?
There is no doubt COVID has impacted our shopping. There are different factors affecting the way we shop from businesses being closed to lockdowns to self-quarantine due to health risks. Regardless of the reason, many shoppers are forced to try different channels and retailers to get what they need. For some it may feel like a shopping renaissance because they found new ways to shop, for others it may feel like the dark ages because they are forced to shop outside of their preferred state. Within grocery there has been a surge in Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) and delivery. Industry experts point to this surge as the future of retail and brands need to adopt or die. I don’t think it is that simple. In this podcast, I review at how COVID has impacted each Primal Shopper typology and whether the new shopping behaviors will persist past COVID or if shoppers will revert to their previous behaviors.
July 21, 2020
Episode 17: How the mind of Gen Z is key to unlocking success in today’s Scrollable Economy
Gen Z’s is barraged with 10,000 pieces of information every day. The deluge of information causes a Poverty of Attention and they have little patience for irrelevant information. In their world, information and ads are one second away getting swiped. This is the scrollable economy. Everyone has the control of their information feed and they can swipe it, skip it, or ignore it. The challenge for markers is how do you stop the swipe. In this podcast, I reveal research on what makes Gen Z’s mind work and why you should care. I will discuss how academics have been dealing with this Poverty of Attention for years, and what they recommend doing. Finally, I will talk about several solutions to stop the swipe of the Gen Z’er.
February 12, 2020
Episode 16: Three Questions defining the 2019 Holiday Shopper
We are in the midst of the holiday shopping season. To celebrate the holiday shopping season, I thought I would do a reprise of last year’s holiday episode (Fight, Flight or Buy. The impact of the Holiday Retail Season on your Shopper DNA) mashed up with several questions I found interesting for the 2019 shopping season. The questions come from several news articles and the holiday marketing barrage. My curiosity was piqued by several articles and made me wonder if it was hype or real. So, for this episode, I combined the holiday mindsets in my book with a few headlines and had some fun with it. To this end I discuss the following questions: Are we at a cyber-tipping point for online holiday shopping? It seems like online shopping is dominating the marketing buzz, but is this hype or reality? I look at the current level of online shopping and project how quickly I believe online shopping will grow and why. Are holiday deals, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday just becoming seasonal white noise? This is an interesting shopper-centric topic. We are inundated with massive amounts of ads promising savings on our holiday shopping. However, if everyone is promising a deal, how effective is the marketing during the holiday season. Also, what is the impact if you do not offer a deal. So, is the shortened holiday shopping season affecting the timing of how we shop?Okay, the holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter this year. You find articles in the press predicting shop-ageddon because of the reduced time. I discuss the impact (or not) of the shortened time period and which mindsets are affected. I hope you enjoy the episode. Happy Holidays everyone!
December 16, 2019
Episode 15: Amazon versus Walmart: The Billion Dollar Grocery Throwdown
Amazon versus Walmart. They seem to always be in the news. Recently, Walmart announces an unlimited grocery delivery offer for an annual fee. Amazon waves their delivery fee, and now it is free for Prime Members. Walmart announces they will deliver not only to home, but also the final fifteen feet to your fridge. Amazon offers 2-hour delivery for Whole Foods. It goes on and on. The two retail behemoths keep trading body blows to achieve the ultimate goal: converting the other’s shoppers. But how many shoppers are willing switch? The answer to this question lies within shopper motivations. Based on Amazon and Walmart’s retail offering, they are attracting different types of shoppers. And honestly, it will be difficult to switch some shoppers regardless of a new offering. In my latest podcast, I take an in-depth look into this billion-dollar throwdown and the Primal Shopper motivations impacting the two retailers.  An interesting aspect to this retail battle is that it is taking place on multiple fronts: grocery, holiday shopping, electronics, clothing. In this episode, I explore the grocery battle and look at three types of shoppers: Mission Shoppers, Deal Seekers, and Brand Citizen/Journey Shoppers.
November 14, 2019
Episode 14: A Twist on Marketing Planning: Reverse ROI meets the Dark Side of the Moon
It’s that time of year as many marketers set budgets for 2020. While there are different ways to set your marketing budget, I want to offer up a bit of a twist. Sort of a provocative approach based on three factors: primal habit, marketing investment, and target contribution to revenue. I begin the podcast by talking about a concept called Reverse ROI. Fundamentally, this concept is based on a simple question: If you were to spend zero marketing dollars in 2020, how much revenue would you accrue? The answer to this question is your primal habit line. It is the estimate of how many people buy on habit (or loyalty), therefore marketing does not affect their decision. Clients have different habit lines based on their customers frequency if purchase, and habitual nature. For example, in grocery the line can be 80 to 90 percent, in travel about 50 percent, and low-frequency durable goods can be below 20 percent. In this podcast, I discuss how your marketing dollars are an investment designed to reach your revenue goals by making up the difference between the habit line and goal. It’s an interesting premise worth a listen … but it doesn’t end there. To achieve the revenue goal, I go a little retro by using Pink Floyd’s the Dark Side of the Moon, or to be more specific visual on the album cover. For those who aren’t familiar with the album cover it is a visual of a prism. This metaphorically represents how most clients must break down their budget to understand how each target contributes to their revenue goal. Think of it this way: the light beaming into the prism represents the gap between the habit line and revenue goal. The different colorful light beams emanating from the prism represents the different targets you need to appeal to in order to meet your goal. In the podcast I detail this approach and use a travel example to bring it to light. Worth noting is this is an example on how to use a Primal Shopper survey. The survey not only isolates opportunity targets based on different motivation, but it also identifies media and information sources influencing each target’s purchase decisions.
October 29, 2019
Episode 13: The Theory of Innumeracy: How a Math Challenged America affects your Pricing Strategy
In America many people are math challenged. Math doesn’t come easy, and complicated math is even more challenging. When I say complicated math, I am not talking algebra or calculus, rather I am referring to applying percents and fractions. This is the theory of innumeracy. Innumeracy is to numbers as illiteracy is to reading. And while many people struggle with numbers, ironically many marketers’ pricing strategy includes applying percents to calculate the deal. Innumeracy is the topic for this podcast and how it impacts promotional pricing. In this podcast I break down five mistakes marketers are making in regard to innumeracy. The irony is marketers think big numbers lead to big results. Seems logical, except if people can’t calculate the deal they are not likely to act on it.  I will discuss five common mistakes and then offer up four pricing solutions that counter innumeracy in America. The solutions focus on simplifying the math, making it obvious, making it easy to buy, and finally making it highly relevant. The solutions are not overly complicated, rather they are simple strategies to keep the math easy and increase the effectiveness of your marketing.
October 15, 2019
Episode 12: Eco-Shopping: Why do we want to be green, yet fail to shop green?
Most people have a desire to be green. A desire to recycle. A desire to reduce their carbon footprint. A desire to make the world a better place for future generations. However, most people’s desires fail to manifest itself in consistent behaviors. Especially when it comes to eco-shopping, our continual purchasing of plastic bottles is puzzling considering the global impact they are having on the ecology. In this podcast I investigate why shoppers have or lack an eco-conscious when shopping. The irony is they want companies or brands to be green and have sustainable strategies, yet most shoppers fail on their part to make the right eco-choices. It is well documented on why people recycle (or don’t), but I am more interested in going beyond that and probe the question of: Why do people make the eco-decisions that they do (or don’t) in the store? The answer to this question is based on our innate desire as it relates to truly being green. I walk through five desires or eco-mindsets as an explanation for how we shop green. I conclude the podcast by discussing what are the ways to truly change our eco-behaviors.  For show notes and a list of eco-mindsets go to
September 24, 2019
Episode 11: How we shop Amazon Prime Day
  Amazon’s Prime Day is upon us, again. There is plenty of chatter out there on great deals, how to shop Prime Day, and how other retailers are trying to take advantage of Amazon’s big day, but very little on how (and who) Prime Day is affecting. The goal of this podcast is to look at 5 Why’s behind Prime Day including: How the true Deal Seekers approaches Prime Day. What shopper typologies does it appeal to (and which could care less) A comparison and contrast between Prime Day and Black Friday Prime Day’s impact on the Back to School Shopper Has Prime Day become a ritual yet? If so, for who? In addition to the 5 Why’s, I will discuss the future of Prime Day based on shopping behaviors and trends from Amazon’s brand actions. Specifically looking at their fight with Google to own the Smart Home and with Walmart to increase the share of the Deal Seekers in the retail marketplace. Links from the podcast: Fortune: Prime Subscriber Estimates: Retail Dive: Participation Estimates for Prime Day: Yahoo Finance: Prime Day Competition: Krazy Coupon Lady: Amazon Prime Day Shopping Tips: Check Amazon Prices on Camel: Smart Speaker Household Share: eMarketer: Prime Membership Forecasted Growth:
July 15, 2019
Episode 10: Branding 2020
  Branding is at the core of breaking through the white noise of today’s media environment and moving shoppers to buy. Modern brand positioning first came into vogue in the 1970’s and has hardly changed in the 40-plus years since then. While the approach to branding hasn’t changed, the media landscape has exploded with ever expanding channel options, more robust targeting, and all leading to the tsunami of ads the pummel consumers daily. So, is the 1970’s approach still effective today or do we need to rethink how we emotionally connect brands with people?  This evolution and effectiveness of branding is the topic of my latest podcast. I reflect on the media environment at the dawn of brand positioning in the 1970's and look at how branding launched some campaigns still running today. As I fast forward to today, I find the classic branding approach works for some products but fails with many complex brands that have multiple customer desires. Instead of creating emotional connections, these brands’ ads tend to be product-centric as oppose to desire-centric (failing to make an emotional connection). I will discuss some concerns I have with how agencies approach branding and conclude the podcast with my perspective on branding for today’s media environment.
May 14, 2019
Episode 9: Activating the Primal Shopper
 The final episode from my book release focuses on activating the learnings from the book. In the previous podcasts, I discussed the 18 Primal Principles driving shopper behavior and how the effectiveness of marketing tactics are affected by a shopper’s DNA. In this podcast I touch on different ways to activate Primal Shopper. I will cover the following four topics about activating the primal shopper in this podcast:  • The Two Mindsets: Mind share is about moving two different mindsets: attitudinal and behavioral. I kick-off the episode by going through the nuances of each mindset. • Passion Platforms: Attitudinal is predicated on creating an emotional connection. As an example of this concept I talk about passion platforms. I created these platforms to connect with travel planners and influence their destination. • Decision Optimization: Behavioral movement is about influencing the shopper’s decision path. A shopper’s journey is a series of decisions (or decision path) leading up to purchase. I discuss how to optimize the shopper’s decision path to increase conversion. • The Shopper Sandbox: A big part of activating primal shopper means coming up with ideas based on shopper insights. I switch gears with the last topic and focus on the art of brainstorming. Specifically, how to focus brainstorming within agencies to generate ideas that will move your shopper.   Purchase Your Copy of Primal Shopper
April 30, 2019
Episode 8: Don't Paddle Upstream - Understanding Shopper Flow
 Don’t Paddle Upstream.  There are many tactics to use in marketing today. Some work. Some are the equivalent of paddling upstream. Paddling upstream occur when a marketer fails to understand their shopper flow. They don’t take time to decipher the primal motivations driving their brand and category sales. To increase your shopper motivational share (and sales), a marketer must focus on tactics that work best based on their category Shopper DNA composition.   This episode is about the different nuances to paddling against (or with) the shopper flow. In the previous podcast I discussed the 18 Primal Principles driving shopper behavior. In this podcast I apply those principles to today’s marketing tactics. Many tactics are ineffective based on a shopper’s DNA (think of it like marketing Kryptonite).  I will cover the following four chapters about paddling upstream in this podcast:  Mindset Over Millennial: Sure, on the surface every generation seems different. And while there are behavioral differences, the desire of twenty-something generations is more alike than different. Also, when comparing today’s generations, you find primal motivations are consistent across all generations.  Quest for Knowledge: You can’t Google Knowledge. Brand marketing online is product focused. Worse yet, many product categories are mired in marketing lingo. This is not a benefit to shoppers. They are looking for advice. Advice on what product is right for them.  We Say, They Say, You Say: Most ads tout how great the brand is. Given the lack of objectivity, many shoppers are skeptic of ads. Therefore, if a brand’s marketing only focuses on product greatness, they are paddling upstream. Brands need an appropriate blend of what they have to say (We Say), influencers speaking on their behalf (You Say), and their customers’ perspective (You Say). Channel Trap: Over-focusing on one channel is paddling upstream. I don’t care if the channel is television, online advertising, or social media. Ironically, it is easy to fall into the channel trap. It’s often comes from infatuation with the latest and greatest tech or falling in love with ego media (a.k.a. television). I finish up the podcast, talking about how to avoid the trap and go with the shopper flow.  Purchase Your Copy of Primal Shopper
April 18, 2019
Episode 7: Eighteen Primal Principles of Why We Shop
Its one thing to predict the weather, its another to change the weather. As marketers, we are not in the business of forecasting, we are in the business of changing shopper behaviors. We need to be rainmakers. To do this, we need to understand the primal nature within shoppers – the constant that controls the effectiveness of our marketing.  This episode is about the Why behind the Shopper DNA. The Why is the constant we need to understand to ensure our marketing is successful. This episode is an overview of the second part of my book where I discuss Eighteen Primal Principles behind our shopper behavior. Each of these principles provides insight into how the different DNA strands. In addition to the DNA, I will talk about social impact on shopping behaviors. In this podcast, I will cover the following four shopper principles from the book.  Feel the Deal: Why shoppers sometimes react to deals and other times they don’t. The art of the deal involves shopper interpretations of quality and the expected price of a product. Lifestage Eraser: How would it feel we had brand amnesia and had to (re)establish our brand preferences. In life, there are specific moments when we deal with brand amnesia. For the Love of Brick and Mortar: With what seems like the imminent demise of brick and mortar retail, I talk about why some retailers are succeeding and why.  Beware of the Brand Governor:  I discuss the three forces affecting shoppers within their purchase journey: customers we know, experts we trust, and the brand governor. Purchase Your Copy of Primal Shopper
April 09, 2019
Episode 6: Identifying the Primal Shopper
  This is the first of four podcasts I am doing to as a part of my book release for Primal Shopper. This episode (like the first part of the book) is about inspiration, finding the Shopper DNA, and blind alleys. The title of the first part of the book is Identifying the Primal Shopper. In this podcast I will touch on the inspiration behind the discovery of the Shopper DNA and a foundational concept called the Tension Triangle. The tension triangle in business is the proverbial triangle of time, price, and quality. In business the old adage was you can have two of the three, however, in the retail world this triangle takes on a whole different meaning as it related to Shopper DNA. From the inspiration beginning, I move on to discuss the process behind finding Shopper DNA. I will share stories about the journey of discovery, as well as discuss the overall approach. As a part of discovery, I talk about nature versus nurture, and whether we are born with our shopping preference or is it a function of environmental conditioning. I wrap up the podcast with one of my favorite parts of this podcast and discuss the blind alleys – the DNA that was rejected. Sometimes interesting insights comes from hypotheses that don’t work out. I’ll share several stories about rejected DNA strands and what it meant in the final analysis.  Purchase Your Copy of Primal Shopper
March 25, 2019
Episode 5: The Marketing Dating Funnel: Who owns the relationship?
 In this episode, I have some fun talking about the traditional marketing funnel and how it relates to dating. Over my career I used the dating analogy many times to describe what is happening within marketing (and how you shouldn’t date shoppers like you’re a desperate brand). To illustrate this concept, I talk about different funnels in four product categories: automotive, mobile phone, grocery, and restaurants; and possible solutions to move shoppers through the funnel. 
February 28, 2019
Episode 4: Super Bowl Aftermath: The $5 Million Movement Question
  A lot has been written about the like-ability Super Bowl commercials often ranking the commercials based on viewer popularity. What hasn’t been discussed is the impact of these ads on business. That’s the subject of this podcast. I will discuss the effectiveness of different commercials based on their ability to move mind:  · Did the commercial move people to think differently about the brand? · Did the commercial move the shopper closer to purchase? · Or was the commercial ineffective and just white noise? In the podcast, I will evaluate Super Bowl commercials based on a Movement Matrix. The matrix evaluates marketing based on whether it moved people attitudinally to think differently about the brand and move shoppers behaviorally or closer to purchase. Optimally, if the commercial does both it would be considered breakthrough and have an impact on business. If the commercial is unable to either, it would be considered white noise.  I conclude the episode by discussing five different ways a commercial/campaign can be breakthrough providing examples for each. Show Notes USA Today Ad Meter 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Movement Matrix Walmart Car Ad:
February 13, 2019
Episode 3: A New Year’s Resolution: Use Marketing to Change the Shopper’s Stripes
 Every year many people make a New Year’s resolution.  Most people are unable to keep their resolution. Why do we fail? Well, we fail to understand the core motivation fueling the habit. This fact is also true for shoppers. Many marketers fail to alter a shopper’s habits, because the are unable to pinpoint their core desire. This podcast is about changing your shopper’s stripes through marketing. I will cover three topics in the podcast: What is the true cost to change our stripes? I will discuss New Year’s Resolutions and the primary reason many of us fail to keep them. It’s not about a resolution, it’s about creating a habit. The key to keeping a resolution is about creating a new habit. I will talk about habit creation based on insights from Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit. Can you change a shopper’s stripes with your marketing? I dedicated most of the podcast to discuss the ability to change a Shopper’s DNA. To move a shopper from their preferred DNA to a different DNA profile that is advantageous to the marketer. I will illustrate how to shift the DNA through examples in discount retail, grocery, and hotel. Show Links: Top resolutions for New Year’s by YouGov  The cost for New Year’s Resolutions from  The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Changing the Shopper's Stripes for Hotels In this podcast, I discuss how to move a vacation planner from Free Agent to Brand Citizen and then from Deal Seeker to Price Blind.  The hotel/resort can significantly reduce the impact of Online Travel Agents (e.g. Expedia,, Trivago) within the vacation planner's journey by changing the shopper's stripes.
January 16, 2019
Episode 2: Fight, Flight or Buy. The impact of the Holiday Retail Season on your Shopper DNA
Holiday shopping season is a clash between the demands of gift buying and your Shopper DNA. This holiday clash can push people to shop outside of their shopper preference leading to stress. These archetypes drive specific holiday shopping behaviors. This episode is based on a chapter called Fight, Flight, or Buy in my upcoming book, where how your shopper DNA is affected by the holiday shopping season. I will review are four different holiday shopping archetypes based on shopper DNA and how to market to them. Links to content I cover in this episode includes: Christmas shopping can be as stressful as running a MARATHON: The study investigated the responses of people during a 1-hour holiday shopping session. Holiday Season Trends (National Retail Federation) Shopper DNA and Primal Shopper Typologies
December 17, 2018
Episode 1: Shopper DNA Discovery! A look at our Shopper DNA and how to use it to grow Market Share
In the very first episode, I will discuss my journey to discover our Shopper DNA and how you can leverage it to grow market share. How we shop seems random – like shopper journeys intertwined in retail chaos. The reality is our shopping behaviors are quite orderly, consistent, and predictable. We have a natural preference on how we shop – think of it like a Shopper DNA. This Shopper DNA is consistent from shopper to shopper and category to category. My introductory episode will cover the discovery of Shopper DNA with an in-depth look into three core DNA strands: Wallet, Time, and Brand. This DNA affects the ability for an advertiser to grow market share. Our shopper DNA makes up a motivational layer within the retail space. I will discuss how the motivational layer impacts your marketing, and how to unlock the Shopper DNA within the motivational layer to grow market share. For additional information on Shopper DNA, Shopper DNA tests, and my contact information go to
December 10, 2018