What shopper insights do we need?
Ever since the industry started talking about shoppers, people have been talking about shopper insights. As winning at retail gets tougher: as retail competition intensifies, what shopper insights do brands and retailers need? What do we need to know about shoppers?
What do we mean by a shopper insight?
So let’s first take a step back. What do we mean by a shopper insight? Different people take different views. To some, and data or knowledge about shoppers is ‘an insight’. I’d like to stretch that a little. For me, an insight needs to fulfil a number of criteria, as follows:
So with that established – what insights are most valuable to brands and shoppers?
What do we need to know about shoppers?
The most useful thing to know about shoppers is (and this would be a key component of any shopper insight) – which shoppers are we actually targeting? The biggest enemy to any shopper marketing venture is being generic. If we try to appeal to everyone, we end up missing. And the reality is, we don’t need to win with every shopper (unless we’re shooting for 100% market share!)
Brands need to be clear about which shoppers are key to driving their growth. Retailers need to understand which shoppers, and which shopper missions, they can win. I repeat. You can’t win with every shopper on every mission. Work out which missions are winnable. Then win them.
How to win with our target shoppers?
The second fact therefore is to work out how to win with those shoppers on those missions. For brands and retailers the question is the same, but the approach is different.
Brands need to understand why shoppers don’t do what they want them to do. If we want shoppers to buy bigger packs (to fuel additional in-home occasions, for example) we need to understand exactly why shoppers aren’t buying big packs now? What are the barriers? What are the likely enablers that would create that behavior?
Retailers face broader questions. Assuming there is a clear target shopper, and a winnable mission – the question is now what experience is the shopper looking for on that mission? Which categories are key: which are superfluous? What are the key pain points for those shoppers? How can they be eliminated? Where are our target shoppers looking for added value, and where are they not? What role does impulse play for those shoppers, and for which categories?
The recipe for powerful shopper insights
All shopper insight comes from a really clear understanding of who the target shopper is, what is their mission: what they do now (and what we want them to do) and an understanding of what barriers and enablers exist to make that happen. From that core data we can take the first steps into insight – the point where we create a deeper and new knowledge that really opens up growth.
There is a teachable process for creating insights, which we don’t have space to cover here. However here are a few tips that I would suggest to both brand and retailer teams to help create shopper insights.
Collaboration is powerful under many circumstances, but it works especially well for insights. Insights are created by looking at things differently. Brands and retailers look at the world differently, so getting those perspectives together forces each party to look at the world differently, and that is a great recipe for thinking differently and creating new insights.
Be targeted and segmented
I’ve covered this, but its so important it is worth saying again. If you look at generic data covering ‘all shoppers’ – you will get generic insights. If you look at specific groups of shoppers – you’ll start seeing more interesting things. Segment shoppers into meaningful groups. There is no right or wrong segmentation – just segmentation approaches that are more or less valuable in any given situation. Try a number of approaches and see what happens.
Go to stores
I know many of you do this, but too often we go to store to audit and check what is on the shelf. Do that, for sure, but also go to understand, to ask questions. Ask questions in your head, and ask questions of shoppers. Store visits are a great source of hypotheses, which are the starting point of all insight.
Both brands and retailers need to be more shopper-centric. Today, manufacturers are too brand-centric and retailers are often category-centric. But that isn’t how most shoppers look at the world. Most shopping trips are for more than one brand and more than one category. To really understand shoppers we need to broaden our perspective and our way of planning and working together to look at shoppers and their total mission. Only then will we be really shopper-centric.
Don’t forget the consumer
But lest we forget – shoppers buy for one reason – to consume! So if we are to fully understand shoppers, we also need to understand consumers. Integrating our understanding of consumers and shoppers enables us to create more powerful insights, and understand the both the shopper enablers and barriers, and the consumption barriers too. There is little value in driving incremental purchase if we don’t drive incremental consumption as well. Integrated insights address enablers and barriers to consumption AND purchase.
A better understanding of shoppers will lead to shopper insights. And shopper insights will lead to us creating the best shopping experience that those shoppers want, and encouraging the shopping behavior we are looking for.