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Retailer Relationships

The only agency with everyday access to the top retailers’ stores.

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What shoppers do, not what they think they do.

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Insight Not Just Data

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Shopper Pioneers

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The people on the ground matter...

Please note that this a real case study - we've just changed the names.

The facts

John is Head of Research & Insights for a major FMCG manufacturer (aka Biggie). John was new into his role at the beginning of 2011. In a shopper edict frenzy, 9 out of the 11 core business categories had commissioned be-spoke in-store shopper research in the previous year. When we first spoke to John in 2011, little ROI had been delivered from these projects. The huge, unwieldly, door-step files of charts provided by each agency were now gathering dust behind someone's desk. Key insights had not been maximised for insight, shared with stakeholders nor fully utilised within the business. The retailers hadn't seen anything either. The total cost of these 9 be-spoke projects was millions, not thousands. John was therefore put in the unenviable position of having to defend shopper to the business and try to justify continued support.

The challenge

The problem was one of standards and consistency in data collection. Each shopper manager had done a thorough due diligence job on agency partners but each had ended up using a different agency. Each of the 9 agencies had used a varying combinaition of methodologies, observational approaches and questions. As a result, Biggie was struggling to make sense of the related metrics - that were at times conflicting - such as conversion, shelf engagement and shopper missions. They were unable to draw cross-category & total grocery comparisons for the total Biggie business. When shared with the wider teams of sales, marketing & category, the disconnects led to unanswered questions and therefore a reluctance to take the findings further.

The solution

If you live & breath shopper like we do, when you actually stop to think about it, the collection of even small shopper metrics is not obvious. Dwell time for example, when do you start recording it? When the shopper first enters the aisle, looks at the fixture, engages in any way? As Biggie found out, there are numerous ways to collect it.

We have an entire fieldwork training module dedicated to what constitutes shopper engagement and therefore when & how to start recording things such as dwell time and the difference between whether a shopper is just looking from side to side as they walk the aisle or actively looking. That's not saying that our way is the only way, but what enables client confidence in our outputs is the quality standards and consistency of collection and therefore their security in the accuracy of comparisons. As our global field manager, likes to point out, 'there may be other ways but ours is a consistent one'.

Market research standards in both the UK and Australia dictate that fieldworkers must have a supervised accompanied visit once every 180 days. Ours is every 30-days. We have our own field & field management team and do not outsource our fieldwork. Many of our researchers have been with us for years and each has a monthly, dedicated on the job development session, a buddy system and at least weekly contact with their manager. We measure KPIs & metrics each month and performance is rewarded & managed accordingly. In short, our field team are an extension of us and we treat them no differently. We are rewarded by their continued motivation, commitment & quality standards in field.

The results

Three years later we work with 2 out of the 3 divisions of Biggie. We still haven't managed to get the third division engaged due to their costly hiccup at the start of their shopper journey but we're still trying! The progress with the 2 that we work with has been steady. Our focus has been on internal engagement & embedded usage in order to incorporate key shopper metrics into their business planning, new product development and category review processes. We are slowly putting shopper at the heart of strategic decision making - right alongside consumer where it belongs!

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