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18 May 2017
posted by: Amanda

Case Study - The difference between what shoppers say & what they do

 you are what you do jung 

There are numerous reasons why shoppers don't do what they think they do when shopping ...from simply not remembering to outright lying. In this quick article I discuss why using a case study from one of our confectionery clients.

There are numerous reasons why shoppers don't do what they think they do when shopping ...from simply not remembering to outright lying. In this quick article I discuss why using a case study from one of our confectionery clients.

For confidentiality reasons, I've called them Choccers.

Choccers had conducted online shopper research a few years previously and learned through this that shoppers avoided the confectionery aisle; 'I rarely go down the confectionery aisle', 'I only go down there for a treat' or 'I only go there for the kids when they've been good', being top responses.

As such, Choccers had - quite rightly - built a shopper marketing strategy around getting shopper traffic into the aisle in order to plug this P2P hole.

But 2-years later nothing had changed in the research responses nor in sales with these shoppers. Choccers were puzzled. So they had a rethink and decided to conduct some in-store shopper research to find out whether it could shed any light on the problem. What they found was quite the opposite to what they had previously understood. In reality, they found that not only did shoppers not avoid the confectionery aisle, but confectionery was in fact one of the busiest aisles in the supermarket in Australia!

So what did Choccers do?

They immediately changed their strategy to an in-aisle engagement strategy focussed on cross-segment browse to purchase - which was where the real hole was in their P2P funnel - and they grew the category as a result.

And this isn't just limited to impulse or snacking categories like Confectionery either.

One of our other clients in the pasta sauce category learned through online shopper research that shoppers were incredibly fussy about which specific sauce variety they bought, i.e., whether they bought the Tomato, Onion & Garlic or Tomato, Onion & Mushroom, etc. As such, they were pursuing a strong product based strategy where many variants were produced to cater for these esoteric tastes. The result? An ever longer tail with thinning sales between variants and little category growth. Like Choccers, this client was puzzled and decided to conduct some in-store shopper research to figure out what was really going on.

Once again, the in-store reality differed from what shoppers said when interviewed online. In-store shoppers were confused and bombarded with a 'sea of red'. They could not distinguish between variants easily and 43% of the time ended up grabbing 'any red sauce' in exasperation after spending twice as long trying to find what they wanted at the fixture. So in actual fact, their shopper marketing strategy should have been one of shelf & range simplification and standout and not range extension.

download

 

So why the difference I hear you ask?

Picture the scene... Sally the shopper is trying to be good. It's Tuesday night and the usual rule is no chocolate Mon-Thurs. Along with the wine rule. Which is exactly what Sally said in the market research survey she completed online at home last night.

But, it's been a long day and Sally's favourite film is on tonight so instead of avoiding the confectionery aisle, Sally goes down it and buys herself a 'treat' bar of chocolate instead.

chocolate craving

Does this sound familiar? In many cases, without willingly or knowingly, the reality is that what shoppers think they do, did or are going to do can be very different to what they actually do when they shop. So many things influence us every day and shape our decisions that the reality is that unless you are observing & talking to shoppers whilst they are in the store making the shopping decisions, their accounts are unreliable.

In getting to the bottom of why this happens with shoppers, it seems there are 5 common explanations for this difference between what shoppers think they do and what they actually do.

1. They can't remember

4853053 orig

They bought 30 items yesterday, how can we really expect them to remember whether they noticed the promotional ticketing or not in soft drinks?

2. They never took that much notice at the time

FMCG is our life, not theirs and unfortunately (for us) buying groceries is not as exciting as buying a new pair of shoes or a new car.

3. They post-rationalise

Pasta sauce you say? Well let me think, erm no I have some in the cupboard so I definitely wouldn't have browsed pasta sauce in Coles yesterday...

4. They like to think otherwise

No, I definitely didn't browse Ice Cream because I'm watching what I eat right now.

5. They lie

No, I definitely didn't buy a ready meal as I'm a home cook and rarely cut corners.

The key message

There is a big difference between what shoppers think they do and what they actually do when shopping. Both are valid at times but when it comes to in-store decision making, be sure to base your shopper marketing strategies on the right in-store insight! 

Good luck.