Written by Roger Jackson,
October 23rd, 2018 | Views

What exactly is Shopper Research for?

Sometimes I think we in market research can get far too excited about our lovely data and the fascinating things it can tell you but don’t spend nearly enough time walking in our clients’ shoes thinking about improving sales.

For sure, there can be a lengthy pathway between any data and the business outcome. And no single piece of research is a magic bullet, but I thought I’d attempt to see if using just 300 words I can summarise three routes that connect the kind of insights we work with to bottom line improvements for our clients. Here goes…

 Route 1

Identifying or clarifying a pathway to growth.

This is the big one. At its simplest, we want to know something about the way shoppers buy the things they need that uncover a problem, limitation or barrier that if we can overcome, will unlock more volume. Or to flip the proposition, is there a need shoppers have, that is currently not being met entirely by the category right now, or perhaps not optimised in the path to purchase, or maybe is being better met by another category? The entire company should be focussed on this, from the R&D folk, to brand managers and shopper teams. Where the latter provides a unique focus, it’s in the last stages of the purchase decision, looking backwards from the moment of decision.

Route 2

Partnering with a retailer to help them fix an area of underperformance relative to the norm is a second major deliverable.

Every retailer is fighting tooth and nail for traffic and spend and looking to win a greater share of the pie. A task of shopper research is to look for specific ways that Retailer A can do a better job than its competitors; from which the supplier hopefully can leverage their business capabilities to deliver specific solutions.

Route 3

A retail buyer is presented with many more supplier plans than they can possibly adopt and execute.

More promotions than they have the bandwidth for, more NPD than there is shelf space for, and even more plans than they have time to meet about! Shopper research is a crucial ingredient in the “battle for the plans”. Why listen to, adopt or action your ideas or list your NPD? Well, if you have insights about their shoppers that make you a better, more credible advisor, then that’s a big reason. Your plans are directly connected to their business needs. Buyers are hungry for objective advice about their customers.

Of course, in an ideal world, your research delivers insights that hit the “sweet spot” shown below, and encompass all three routes to success!

By the way, I hope you won’t think me too big-headed if I say these routes are at the heart of the research design of Shopper Intelligence.