By Danielle Pinnington
One of the first things I learned when moving from consumer to shopping insight was the need to really interrogate data.
The days of a nice easy preference measure between the red pack and the blue pack, or 99p versus £1.09, were long gone.
Instead I entered a minefield of trying to get under the skin of behaviour versus attitude, and when to spot habit as learnt behaviour versus a conscious decision on the part of the shopper.
That is what has made this area of research so stimulating for us as researchers, but also so challenging for clients more familiar with consumer insight. It’s a crucial issue today, because what happens in the store, or online is making the difference between successful and failed businesses.
Consumers cannot consume or use what hasn’t been bought. It’s obvious, I know, but so much time is spent exploring what consumers want or like, or don’t yet know they need. And so little time is spent really understanding the purchase journey.
There are some simple questions worth asking yourself to test how much you know about shopping habits in your categories:
1. What role does the category play in the household, so what mindset is the shopper in when buying in-store?; 2. Who is the category being purchased for, so what factors is the shopper keeping in mind, or how much control do they even have over the choice made at fixture?; 3. How long does shopper take to make their decision, or how much do they care about the category to invest time in considering the options?; 4. Are they stocking up or buying for a specific occasion, and Is it a destination category or a convenience?; 5. How familiar are they with this retail environment, and therefore how much of what they do is learnt behaviour e.g. referencing gondola ends, aisle avoidance etc?; 6. What is their perception of this particular retailer / retail environment and how does that impact on their perceptions of your category?; 7. What are the visual cues they associate with the category or the brand?; 8. How do they navigate the store and the category?; 9. What are the factors that help them choose what goes in their basket? Are these the same as the factors that make your product appealing to your consumers?; 10. What are the opportunities to positively influence along the path to purchase? ; 11. What are the points of frustration that could block a purchase?
And it isn’t all about the first moment of truth either. Of course, that point of potential interaction is hugely important
– fail here and your brand is sunk.
The often quoted figure of 95% of new products failing in their first 12 months is shown to be true every single day in retail as products are delisted. But each failure may have begun before the shopper even reached the fixture, which demonstrates the complexity that is the purchase journey.
I appreciate that for many FMCG marketeers, what happens in the store or online is left to the trade, category or sales teams. But as the pressure on consumer spending and on retail environments increases, you are missing a massive opportunity
by not immersing yourself in the distance between delivering your NPD to the business, and getting it into shopping baskets. In that distance can be many pitfalls, and all your efforts at producing a great product count for nothing if it can’t make its way into those baskets and homes you have designed it for.