Director, Account Service
It’s a race to the end goal: gaining a lifetime customer. In a world full of private brands, start-ups, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies, getting customers to buy your product can be difficult. Shopper insights are the only way to compete in today’s challenging and disruptive industry.
Insights appear in different shapes and forms – customer data, company knowledge, and market research – just to name a few. You need a roadmap to win the customer insights race because it’s getting harder each day with new competitors and products. We’ve discovered the inside scope to winning the shopper insight race!
Taking the First Curve
Quantitative surveys are the starting point for any brand or consumer insights manager. Their diverse application range ensures almost any inquiry can be answered by a representative sample. Online surveys cost the least amount of money and often can produce results quickly depending on the scope and complexity of the project.
Surveys provide an excellent way to gauge customer opinions as evidenced by their popularity. Omnibus surveys are agile, allowing you to move fast and furious – beating the competition right at the starting line.
Brand trackers measure your brand on a consistent basis (most commonly done or yearly) to see exactly where your company stands. In essence, the results display an overall snapshot of the company at set points in time for easy comparison year after year.
Your brand tracker should go beyond the basic data, and allow you to understand your business, your customers, and your competitors at a deeper level. What are the consumers saying about you online and on social media? Do customers perceive you the way that you want them to? How often are they buying competitor products? These answers – and more – are what you should be learning and tracking. That way, every implemented customer-focused decision has shopper insight backing it up, ensuring you are making the best decisions for the customers, not only for the business.
Qualitative research, whether ethnography, in-depth interviews, or focus groups, produce a wealth of shopper insights. These methods produce detailed findings into how and why consumers use and chose your CPG product. Qualitative research helps you stop and learn “the why” behind consumer decisions.
Online communities, also known as insight communities, are comprised of similarly-minded, geographically dispersed individuals. Participants react and respond to exercises and each other while sharing their own opinions over a set time period. This research is utilized to find answers to multiple research questions or to study a wide geographic area of people. We’ve utilized online communities to discover shopper insights around CPG products as evidenced in this mobile ethnography coffee study.
Virtual Shelf Shopping
Virtual shelf shopping stimulates a store’s environment and shelves. In the study, respondents ‘browse’ virtual shelves as they would normally in store. You discover shopper insights such as viewing time, store navigation, dwell time, or product choice. This choice, though expensive and time-consuming, produces some of the most realistic shopper insights – especially when coupled with eye tracking.
Eye tracking, a system 1 method, determines what people see first, what they look at most, and general gaze patterns. For instance, brands utilize the two methods to see if a CPG product stands out from its competition. You can easily see what people focus their attention on as heat maps are generated from the results.
Utilizing virtual reality shelf shopping can inform CPG product placement, package design, and packaging choices. Its possibilities are endless – and that’s why it’s a final curve method.
Geofencing utilizes virtual perimeters to find consumers, then pushes them surveys based upon behavior and visits to specific areas. Target areas can be any franchise location or a specific geographic area. Geofencing combines survey data with behavioral information, providing deeper consumer insights.
Behavioral information provides insight into the respondent’s shopping habits. You can create more precise segment groups based on behavioral data – such as adding in information about when people shop or their browsing patterns. Coupled with the survey data – brands can create more pointed marketing campaigns or promotions depending on the targeted shopper’s patterns. Combining behavioral data with survey information gives deeper insights, so you know exactly who your customers are, not just who they say they are.
Insights can come from many different sources – surveys, talking to customers, or your own data or assumptions. The most in-depth customer insights often come from combining two or more methodologies. But what matters most is utilizing that knowledge to the best of your abilities – and that is how you will win the shopper insight race.