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Published by: ibdf on Jan 13, 2009
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In the early 90’s, when shopping was still ofine and brands focused onconsumers and a mass-media model, marketers considered the store justa tactical channel for price and value promotions. Enter the retailanthropologists—research teams that stationed themselves in stores toobserve children climbing shelves to reach treats, men pulling up thewaistband of their boxers to see what size they should buy, and womenavoiding aisles where they’d be jostled about.It may have been the rst time anyone looked beyond the day’s receiptsand traditional marketing surveys to measure what was going on in thestore. By 2000, the science of shopping was born—a practical disciplineof making stores and products more in tune with shoppers’ wantsand needs. Now a new category of agencies and consultants that didn’t exist a fewyears ago has evolved the science of shopper insights into a major force.Retailers have gotten smarter, leaner and faster in response to the ercecompetition online and off, and businesses are wise to the fact that theyneed to keep up with evolutions inshopper behavior so they candesign high-performing store plans.
What are shopper insights?
“We talk a lot about the ‘shopper mindset’,” says Bill Chidley,senior vice president/executiveconsultant, Design Forum. “Oneof the most important discoveriesof the new science is that peoplealternate between two modes, or mindsets, when they experience brands.In consumer-mode, we passively receive the media message about the brand, becoming aware of its benets and relevance, and ideally puttingit into our consideration set for the future. But our decision-making process hasn’t kicked in. That happens in shopper-mode. Now activelydeciding, we develop a real list of decision criteria or knowledge gaps,from shortly before we’re in the store to the point where we’re standingat the shelf. This is the shopper journey where more of the smartmarketing budgets are going—the exploration of what the shopper needsfrom the store experience to make a choice, the activity of shopping. Wedon’t revert back to the passive consumer until we’re home interactingwith the product or reecting on the store experience, comparing it tothe original brand promise.”Consumers are relatively simple. Shoppers are complex. A shopper may play many roles and have various needs depending on the categories being shopped and which channels she decides to shop. Specializedresearch can now uncover her choice drivers, purchase decisionhierarchy and sources of dissatisfaction. It also assesses the aisle owand shelf navigation patterns of her journey to understand current and potential perceptions, attitudes and responses—and nd out where that journey gets derailed. Those are the opportunities for growth.
March/April 2008
A Retail Publication by 
“From the street, the parking lot, entry, end of aisle, aisle, section, and packaging, shopper science explains how these dynamics work and howto make them all work in concert,” says Chidley.The business gets equal consideration. While the shopper is beingobserved, researchers and strategists explore the retail brand (or themanufacturer’s brand) to nd the most effective principles to use inorchestrating the store experience. Success with shopper science dependson getting every level of the business involved. That’s why a businesscase for change should be developed, to inspire collaboration between alldepartments and systems in building positive equity with the shopper.Only with quality input from all functions can a framework be developed.Out of that framework comes the strategic and creative direction that willyield results. Change informed by shopper and business insights can beas large as a new store prototype or as limited as an endcap.Today’s powerful technology supports those changes. By necessity,shopper science has gone beyond people with clipboards and hiddenvideo cameras. Computer modelling simulates proposed changes,
Shopper Insights
The Science of
uncovered and capitalized on. But the majorityof companies are still at the bottom of thelearning curve. If it’s so effective why isn’teveryone signing up for shopper science?Especially marketers?“Change is hard,” says Chidley. “It can bring up allkinds of serious issues with merchandisers, buyersand suppliers. Simplifying the process to makeshoppers happier might mean reducing SKUs or dramatically changing planograms and adjacencies,which has the potential to make buyers andsuppliers unhappy. But the quality of your datadoes the persuading. Then the challenge becomes using the data across all functions.Although retailers are keeping their resultscondential, those who’ve found signicantsuccess will tell you that when retailers dowhat’s right for the shopper, everybody wins.”According to Chidley, shopper insights promisea real path to innovation, versus relentlessincremental improvements.“Most retailers are masters at ne tuning thestatus-quo, and too often the shopper accepts thestatus-quo as an immovable reality. They haveno choice but to adapt. Employing the rightapproach to gathering and acting on shopper insights can allow a connection with your shopper by being different—better, not justdifferent for different’s sake.”working through endless permutations to arrive at optimal solutions before anyinvestment is made. Technology also provides ongoing measurement, so plans can be tested and rened periodically.“Science has provided the tools and methods, but the real breakthrough is realizingthe importance of a well understood target shopper and the impact that deepunderstanding has on store design and merchandising decisions,” says Chidley
Applied insights result in a more effective selling space
A typical before and after scenario goes like this: a retailer, say a small-format beauty supply store, has carefully segmented its customers into four categories,Sensible, Fussy, Vain and Perfect. The shelves have been set assuming they allshare a similar shopping style. As it turns out, all they have in common isconfusion at the shelf.
Appropriate behavioral research nds that the group shares two distinct shoppingstyles, not four as might be expected. Sensible and Perfect are “purposeful”shoppers after particular products. Vain and Fussy are “thrill me” shopperslooking for a reason to stop. Drilling down further reveals that once the purposeful shopper makes her selection, she switches to thrill-me mode, withno urgency to leave the store. What they both need/want is education about the benets of a new regimen or creative product combinations.With these insights, a retailer can transform its store plan. Their designers and planners can strategically position products to promote cross-selling and drivelarger baskets. They can explore roles technology might play, and innovativesampling methods.“Interactive elements capture interest, simplify decisions and bring the aisles tolife, helping build a stronger retail experience that tells the brand story and getsmore items into the cart,” says Chidley. “The ultimate goal should be to design anenvironment that provides something differentiating and intangible, while gettingthe retailer credit for meeting shopper needs.”The Internet, of course, is the cause of much of the behavior seen in stores.Because of all the online information a person can access before a shopping trip,as well as the abundance of choices, shoppers are keeping their options open later into the decision process. The vast majority of decisions are made at the shelf.“Probably one of the most exciting developments is the integration of packagingdesign with shelf principles in the store environment,” says Chidley. “Packagingcan signal you’ve arrived in the category you need. It can answer questions to driveselection and upsell. Packaging can be designed so that products can be organized by shopper need-states; for example, by the symptoms they relieve, scent choices,or the age of the family pet. Insight into shopper thinking can unify package designand category shelf principles because it informs color, materials, forms, adjacencies,navigation, all the way up to over-arching messaging opportunities.”Retailers and manufacturers have come a long way since the time they categorizedthings based on how they transacted business and managed their buying processes. Now it’s about how people shop. There are plenty of opportunities that have yet to be
A Retail Publication by:7575 Paragon Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459Phone: 937.439.4400 | Fax: 937.439.4340Email: retail@designorum.comBranch Ofces: London, Los Angeles, New York,Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, ZurichD. Lee Carpenter, Chairman & CEOJill Davis, EditorJorge Sanclemente, Design/ProductionFor more inormation or to be placed on ourmailing list, visit our website: www.designorum.comand complete the contact orm.Reprints o articles or excerpts without the expresswritten permission o Design Forum is prohibited.Ideations is printed bimonthly.Subscriptions: $125 annually in the U.S.;$150 elsewhere.
© March/April 2008
Shopper Insights
The Science of
Chairman’s Commentary 
The Facts of Lifestage
We recently celebrated the passing of another year at Design Forum with our noble and illustrioustradition, the company bowling party. This annualrevelry at the lanes dates back to our humble beginning, when the company was small, life wassimple and we couldn’t afford anything else.This spring marks Design Forum’s thirtieth year in business. Today our numbers are impressive,our network is global, and I still think life is basically simple.Social change has got to be today’s hottest topic.Studies on how-we’re-living-now are numerousand intriguing. Our behavior can no longer be predicted simply byage and income. New trends are emerging all the time.However, I think we might be getting a little carried away.Especially when I read articles with titleslike “Riding Ubertrend Waves in aPost-Modern Retail World.” Have younoticed that everything is “uber” now?We’ve gone from super, to mega, tohyper to uber. “As wave upon wave of ubertrends wash over society, retailers must reinvent themselvesto keep pace with this hyper change.” It’s a little melodramatic, but I can’t argue with it.The pace of life has indeed accelerated, which means we have to be accessible 24/7. Employees must be regularly cautioned not tolet their Blackberries be damaged by a steamy morning shower.Our cultural values have shifted. We’ve become intolerant of unethical trade practices and we’re rewarding green companieswith our patronage. As individuals we perceive ourselvesdifferently than we did thirty years ago. Gender roles are far lessrestrictive. Age doesn’t limit us. Older people have youthfulattitudes and the young seem to remain younger longer. As onewoman said, “My son is about to turn 18, and he’ll probably staythat way till he’s 26.”Retail must see itself as a living, adaptable changeable systemwhose survival depends on keeping up with these new social behaviors. Yes, society is changing. But life, not so much.Grandparents, no matter how young and t, will still spoil andspend generously on grandchildren. They’ll also at some pointneed large print and smaller stores that require less walking. Andhowever children come into the world, through birth, in vitro, or cloning, they will still be a handful even as they grapple with thetimeless issues of growing up. Their parents—gay, straight or transgendered—will forever be harried, worried and proud. Youcan bet teenagers and young people won’t be giving up their tendency toward rebellion and their interest in sex anytime soon.Just ask Abercrombie & Fitch. No matter how things change, our lifestages remain the same.When recently asked what our idea of a store of the future might be, we based our answer on the facts of basic human nature.People need food and medicine, clothing and household goods. Inthe future, using a mass retailer as our example, we said the storeswill be oriented by lifestage, allowing shoppers to control theexperience according to where they’re at in life—young family,newly single, leisurely retired or teen on the prowl. People canenter at any “life point” and interact with the brand in a way thatis most relevant to them.Technological advances will certainly continue to change attitudesand behavior. We may hear cheering around the world when thelast line at the cashwrap goes away, replaced by wireless personaltransaction gadgets. But despite the prohibitive costs of trainingand keeping friendly associates, I hope thestore never becomes a robot-box, like thenow famous portrayal of The Gap in thefuturistic movie “Minority Report.” In itsmost fundamental form, retail has been thesame for centuries and the human desire totouch the goods, soak up the atmosphere and socialize is still aforce in our natures. Even if there’s no butcher or baker to hagglewith every day, people still seek that relationship, it’s just thattoday it’s with the retail brand.For shopping to really be in touch with humanity, it needs to stayhuman. The deepest need in our nature, they say, is the need to beappreciated. So few stores manage to convey their appreciationthrough design and merchandising. Whole Foods Market is one of a rare breed that sees product selection as only one element thatworks with shoppers. They’ve designed the store to complementthe awless execution that their shoppers love. Love! What’s“post-modern” about that? Whole Foods continues to be onFORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” because of highemployee morale and outstanding nancial performance. Thecompany knows the importance of an engaging workplace—it’sthe same reason we continue to have our annual bowling party.Thirty years later, our employees have different attitudes andexpectations, but the simple company tradition of celebrating ayear of jobs-well-done still resonates, still has meaning.
 No matter how thingschange, our lifestagesremain the same.
D. Lee Carpenter 
Chairman & CEO

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