Cel­lu­lar Lev­els

Point of Purchase - - INTERNATIONAL -

Dig­i­tal tools of­fer new clues into shop­per be­hav­ior.

have long put ef­fort into re­search­ing high-in­volve­ment and ex­pen­sive pur­chases like cars and elec­tron­ics be­fore head­ing to the store. Sud­denly, be­cause of tech­nol­ogy, it is now also worth the “ef­fort” to re­search tooth­paste, canned toma­toes and laun­dry de­ter­gent. Ac­cord­ing to the Wall Street Jour­nal, more than one-fifth of shop­pers re­search food and bev­er­ages on­line, nearly one-third re­search pet prod­ucts and 39 per­cent re­search baby prod­ucts. Al­most two-thirds (62%) say they search for deals on­line be­fore at least half of their shop­ping trips. Ryan Part­ner­ship’s multi-year study of dig­i­tal shop­ping con­firms the wide­spread — and still grow­ing — use of dig­i­tal tools to gather in­for­ma­tion, se­lect re­tail­ers and make brand de­ci­sions well be­fore the shop­per ever sees a prod­uct on the shelf. In fact, this past month, 58 per­cent of the 5,000 shop­pers in our sur­vey told us they are more likely than a year ago to “typ­i­cally” de­cide what they want be­fore vis­it­ing a store. To do this, their us­age of all kinds of dig­i­tal shop­ping tools is grow­ing. The in­creased avail­abil­ity of in­for­ma­tion on mo­bile de­vices has been a strong driver in the growth of dig­i­tal tool adop­tion for shop­ping — the tools are sim­ply more use­ful when they are avail­able when­ever and wher­ever peo­ple need them. Shop­pers in our study over­whelm­ingly re­ported that they use th­ese tools be­fore they get to the store shelf. In many cases this pre-store ac­tiv­ity is hav­ing an impact on the de­ci­sions they make about where they shop, not just what they buy. Shop­pers also re­port us­ing mo­bile dig­i­tal tools more and more while at the store as an ad­junct to the in­for­ma­tion they find in the store. Th­ese tools are hav­ing a real impact on peo­ple’s in-store shop­ping be­hav­ior, as well: Re­spon­dents re­port that they make un­planned pur­chases and buy new prod­ucts and brands as a result of the in­for­ma­tion dig­i­tal mo­bile tools pro­vide for them. What does all this mean for shop­perin­sights pro­fes­sion­als? When peo­ple use th­ese shop­ping tools, they gen­er­ate a trail of data that is em­ployed rou­tinely by web-an­a­lyt­ics teams to op­ti­mize brands’ and re­tail­ers’ web­sites and other dig­i­tal as­sets. How­ever, it can also be used for other means — in par­tic­u­lar, un­der­stand­ing in broader terms how peo­ple shop for var­i­ous cat­e­gories and brands, how they shop in dif­fer­ent re­tail chan­nels and ban­ners, and some of the things that are mo­ti­vat­ing those be­hav­iors. There has been heated de­bate in our field in re­cent years about the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of us­ing “so­cial mar­ket re­search” in place of tra­di­tional quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive shop­per re­search tech­niques. In fact, the de­bate is some­thing of a red her­ring. It would be fool­ish to ig­nore this new source of data that, when ap­proached knowl­edge­ably and re­spon­si­bly, can pro­vide in­sights we may not be able to gather any other way. It is also pos­si­ble to in­cor­po­rate this in­for­ma­tion into our insight-gen­er­a­tion process without aban­don­ing more direct types of shop­per re­search. The pos­i­tives of us­ing so­cial re­search plat­forms for shop­per in­sights are that they are quite easy to ac­cess, rea­son­ably priced, and fast (i.e., we can get in­for­ma­tion in real time) com­pared to many tra­di­tional re­search tools. They also have the ad­van­tage that they pro­vide in­for­ma­tion that is not bi­ased by shop­pers’ abil­ity or will­ing­ness to recall or re­count their ac­tiv­i­ties — and this is a ma­jor pos­i­tive. The key neg­a­tive is that it can in­volve quite a bit of per­sis­tence, cre­ativ­ity and imag­i­na­tion to mine so­cial data to glean broader in­sights about the over­all shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. As a result, there is the pos­si­bil­ity of mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and the dol­lar sav­ings can be off­set to vary­ing de­grees by the time in­vest­ment. We find that us­ing so­cial re­search tech­niques to be­gin our in­ves­ti­ga­tion of shop­per be­hav­iors and mo­ti­va­tions is a great way to max­i­mize the pos­i­tive and min­i­mize the neg­a­tive. The abil­ity to doc­u­ment be­hav­ior that shop­pers may not have been able or will­ing to tell us is a strong rea­son to take a look at what can be learned from so­cial re­search plat­forms. Af­ter the ini­tial ex­plo­ration, we of­ten have ques­tions or hy­pothe­ses about shop­pers that we would not have gen­er­ated on our own. That is the time to turn to some of the more tra­di­tional

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