From Insights to Application
Hereare some insights on how to fling the shopper into action which can also be applied to everyday day reality. Will Leach, VP of Behavioural Labs at Brain-Juicer, discusses why Behaviour Design may be the next evolution for the Shopper Insights industry.The Shopper Insights industry made it through an important life stage this summer. An industry bar mitzvah of sorts. 13 years have now passed since Paco Underhill’s ground breaking book “Why We Buy” hit book shelves and arguably launched an entire Shopper Insights industry. As many attest, it became the proof point needed for academia, marketing departments and consulting start-ups to tap into the shopper’s mindset and change the face of marketing. After 13+ years into studying “the first moment of truth” and significant investments in a slew of new shopper research methods like mobile ethnos, neuro-testing, virtual shelves, eye-tracking and trip mission segmentations, we can officially proclaim that shopper insights are here to stay and still expanding. Just looking at the growth of new shopper conferences over the last few years shows the incredible momentum that is surrounding this area. So now that we’ve made it through our informative years, where will the next 13+ years of shopper insights take us? Where will our industry need to place its bets to meet the high growth needs of the 21st century business environment? For some, “big data” holds the key to unlocking new behavioural insights currently hidden from researchers. Why rely on asking shoppers what they want when you can derive it from their behaviours, right? For others, mobile technology is the key to unlocking those unarticulated shopper needs and emotions felt along the entire path to purchase. Finally technology has given us an easy way to gain the “in the moment” insights that will drive new marketing & shelf-back innovation. All of these efforts and other advancements will undoubtedly bring us closer than ever to the shopper at their moment of decision. But as we talk to business leaders across various industries, we are starting to see greater need and interest in advancing the shopper insights discipline forward into a more consultative role. To not only understand the “What” and “Why” behind shopper behaviour. But to also expand our responsibilities to owning these rich insights all the way to final application. In other words, owning the “Now What?” After the significant time, money and resources used to develop shopper insights, some firms are starting to question if they are receiving the full value from their investments. In their words, “understanding shoppers won’t drive greater sales if we don’t know how to apply those insights directly into marketing and innovation.” Thankfully there is a new area of research and application that we, and the entire shopper insights and marketing industry can draw upon to do just this…the behavioural and decision sciences. The last decade has been revolutionary in the advancement of the behavioural & decision sciences, particularly Behavioural Economics. From this work it is clear that we often behave irrationally. That our preexisting brand preferences aren’t always neither constant nor stable due to the shopping environment itself. As anyone who has shopped at a discount store on a Friday night knows….brands never live without context. The environment around our brands (be it messaging, alternative offers, adjacencies, plan-o-gram, flow, even media in other areas of the store) have strong psychological impact on our decision to buy…or not buy. In fact…at the moment of decision, the choice environment heavily influences shopping behaviours. Therefore, only using your shopper insights as a means to build stronger brand equity in-store isn’t enough. Generating consumer pull alone rarely guarantees a sale these days. In a world where the typical person is exposed to hundreds of marketing messages and makes thousands of decisions daily, the chances of any one brand message being able to tap into and influence someone’s decision is getting increasingly more difficult. The future opportunities lie in our ability to understand and tap into how people make decisions in specific shopping context. That’s why I believe that the behavioural sciences, particularly behaviorual economics, are the future of shopper insights. These fields are rich with insight on the why’s of shopping behaviour. But more importantly, they include practical ways to apply these insights to everyday marketing and innovation. . I recently left PepsiCo to join international market research agency BrainJuicer. At Pepsi I headed up their Shopper Marketing & Retailing Testing laboratory where I studied shopping behaviour and how to apply the behavioural sciences to improve Pepsi’s marketing. Now, at BrainJuicer, I’m excited to bring my knowledge and learning to international clients as VP, BrainJuicer Behavioural Labs. So, back to the next 13 years. As the shopper insights industry evolves and further defines its role across a broader industry, I see a future that expands its focus, capabilities and responsibility across 4 areas. 1) From only focusing on shopper needs, to also focusing on how in-store environments influence choice. 2) From only helping brands engage shoppers, to also being responsible for designing engaging environments. 3) From shopper testing the in-store portion of 360 equity campaigns, to also consulting brands on how to influence entire pre-shop, shop and post-shop decision cycles.
4) From helping internal clients design in-store marketing exclusively through a Brand Design lens, to also designing in-store marketing that helps shoppers make fast, intuitive decisions through a Behaviour Design lens
Will Leach VP of Behavioural Labs Brain Juicer