It has long been accepted that some of the more insightful shopper research takes place in-store at the fixture: In the actual locations where purchase decisions are really made.
But too often, shopper researchers only concentrate on measuring and reporting how existing category shoppers shop.
Do Not Buy Any More Shopper Research Until You've Read This.
Here’s a challenge for anyone serious about growing their share of market: Instead of only analysing the details of those who buy your brand and those already buying from the category it resides within, focus on those that don’t buy; those that aren't even in the aisle!
Let me explain using confectionery as an example: Almost all of the UK population eats confectionery. In a typical supermarket on a healthy trading day, around 1,000 shoppers enter the store per hour. Of this 1,000 around 50 visit the main confectionery aisle. Of this 50, some 70% buy confectionery during that visit. The result is 35 people out of 1,000 buy confectionery each hour from the average UK supermarket.
Typically, in-store market research that is conducted in aisle (in this case studying the confectionery category), is analysing just 5% of the store footfall, and here’s the real kicker: Those being researched are shopping confectionery anyway!
Brands are spending serious amounts of money, not researching 95% of people who could buy them.
Consider this revolutionary approach: Before analysing the category you belong to, take time to identify both the explicit and implicit need states your category meets. Then endeavour to understand what other categories in-store can and do meet those same shopper needs. For example. If the shoppers are buying confectionery as a gift, think what else they could buy instead: Flowers, Alcohol, Health & Beauty, etc.
Then, armed with this information, use your shopper research budget to also understand why shoppers who could have a need for your category aren’t shopping it.
Have you ever really focused in on the reasons why some shoppers don’t buy your brand and aren't even in the aisle? In the more than 20 years I have been analysing shoppers, I don't recall a single time when a brand came to me and said: "Tell us about shoppers and consumers who don't buy our brand or even shop our category".
A lot of non-customers are potential customers in waiting. So could it be that consumption patterns mean you have a pack size or format missing from your range? The Confectionery category within supermarkets lacks seriously premium products, with the most expensive box of chocolates in the average Tesco costing less than £20. Yet you can buy a bottle of Champagne for £45. So for the man who really needs to say sorry (speaking from personal experience), a box of chocolates just won’t do.
Quite often you also see secondary displays of boxed chocolates supported by a special offer. Based on the fact that they don’t cost enough anyway, this is self-defeating: Where’s the specialness in ‘Was £10, Now £6’?
Be seen to be selected
Another basic reason for your brand not being bought is simply that it isn't noticed in-store. Fundamentally, brands that aren't seen will not be bought. Back to our box of chocolates example. The impressive display of freshly cut flowers is hard to miss and hits you almost as soon as you enter the supermarket. But boxes of chocolates are hidden in amongst the mints and Haribos in aisle 27.
Boxed chocolates, along with many other brands in numerous categories, need serious visual help to mentally remind shoppers of their availability. And in the case of chocolate boxes, this help isn't much use, solely deployed in aisle 27: It needs to be out there with the competing categories such as Flowers and Champagne.
A third reason why gifting shoppers don’t always visit the confectionery aisle is that nothing in the store mentally links confectionery with a gifting need state. And with less than 50% of shoppers using shopping lists, stores could do much more to act as cross-category aides-memoire.
Oh, and don’t think this type of thought process is unique to confectionery:
Shopper need: Energy
Potential solutions: Banana, Coffee, Energy Drink, Cereal Bar, etc.
Shopper need: Quench thirst
Potential solutions: Water, Milk, Juice, Beer, Carbonates, etc.
Shopper need: Carbohydrates
Potential solutions: Bread, Potatoes, Pasta, Rice, etc.
In summary, you could spend your shopper research budget analysing existing category shoppers. Searching for insights that can influence brand loyalty.
...the better shopper research agencies can also provide wider, multi-category competitive set insights, helping you deliver significantly more growth by increasing not just loyalty, but category penetration too.
Who else is meeting your shopper's needs?