The what and the why. The yin and yang of shopper research.
Different purveyors of methodology place differing emphasis on different types of shopper learning. To us, its all about understanding clearly current changes in shopper behaviour. First, you need to know what shoppers are doing (how their choices are changing). Then you need to know why they are doing this. One without the other won’t get you to any worthwhile decision on strategy.
Keeping it simple, there are only few key “whats” – for example, the main ones are
- Shoppers are buying less of one thing and/or more of another
- They are buying less in one place and/or move somewhere else
- They are buying more over time, or less over time
Given shopper budgets (and calorie) requirements are relatively inelastic, “behaviour” surely is mostly about the way shoppers are making changes in choices among alternatives, the directions they are taking when faced with plenty of (often too many) options.
Now, equally simply (hopefully not simplistically) one needs to know why they are doing these things. Ie what’s driving their choices/decisions.
Here is our big four-hit list of generic potential causal factors:
- The alternative is better priced/better-perceived value for money
- The alternative is easier/quicker/more convenient
- The alternative is better/more suitable for their specific needs on that occasion
- The alternative was more visible/more available
- And finally, possibly, they simply did not notice/were unaware of the “better” alternative
Getting clear on these matters should end up with an insight that can be turned into a strategy. The trouble is all too often we get totally bogged down with the enormous amount of “what” data (Scan sales, panel, loyalty card etc) and never really get clear on the “why”. It’s one reason we introduced a systematic source of “why” data.