Here at Shoppercentric we have noticed an increasing interest among our clients for more immersive shopper research approaches. For many years we have encouraged clients to get more involved in the research process, so that they can feel much closer to the results and therefore more likely to reference and use the research. But often we found little uptake in our offers of accompanying us on accompanied shopping trips, and the viewing rooms at focus groups were often full of leftover buffets rather than clients.
More recently, however, there has been a shift. Part of that has come from us encouraging more immersive approaches to inspire action. For example, our workshops which bring shoppers, clients and even their trade partners into a room to thrash out knotty issues are proving very popular with manufacturers who see the benefit of getting up close and personal with shoppers. It’s fair to say it takes a confident supplier to be prepared to work through issues with shoppers and their trade partners, but those who have always come back for more because the experience is such a positive one. The shoppers may not always say what they want, but shoppers tell it how they see it which is hugely refreshing for teams who struggle to get out from behind their desks.
We’ve noticed that clients are becoming more open to active involvement in the research process and seeking out these opportunities. So we’ve had Managing Directors and Marketing Directors out on our accompanied shopping trips, we’ve held project kick off meetings in-store at the fixture surrounded by shoppers, and we’ve facilitated client teams interviewing shoppers themselves. And clients are breaking out from behind the one-way mirror and more regularly sitting next to our shoppers as issues are explored and resolved together in group discussions.
Of course we also know that the huge demands on our clients’ time means that it’s not always possible to grab a trolley and get personal. So when first-hand immersion isn’t possible we make sure we do what we can to bring shoppers into the boardroom instead, using video footage to let them speak for themselves and bring their perspective to life.
We love this new enthusiasm and desire to get closer to shoppers. Though from time to time we just need to remind those involved that the unfiltered views of a few individuals, however compelling, isn’t necessarily gospel. So it’s also our job to steer the balance between insight and immersion.
But, that said, the value of these more immersive opportunities is immense. They can be a real eye-opener for those involved, and far more impactful than sitting behind a screen in a viewing facility. At a time when clients are increasingly able to access data directly, what better than to support that process in a controlled, and objective way that captures hearts as well as minds. As the MD of a major drinks brand can testify after a recent project: “It was such an eye-opener, not just to hear it in shoppers own words but to appreciate the reality of shopping, and why what we think is a given back in the office isn’t so clear to shoppers”