EmergeSmarter Blog

The Market Research Event: Understanding Your Consumers

Posted on Tue, Nov 22, 2011

By Darren Breese, Research Director

With all the talk of new technologies and the like in the air, we may overlook the basics.  Yet, one of the themes running through the recent Market Research Event was the notion of simply empathizing with consumers.  This is nothing new of course; it is the core of what we do every day — understand consumers, bring them to life, connect them to marketers.  Every day we put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes, or in some cases actually watching them put on their shoes. 

Sometimes it is hard for clients to truly empathize with their consumers, because quite often they aren’t in the same boat.  They may be more affluent, live different lifestyles, and have upbrings and life experiences that are poles apart.  Despite all of the differences — perhaps because of them — it is the researcher’s job to do as much as to connect marketers and their consumers, and to do this in a way that makes the experience as engaging as possible. Consumer Behavior

A technique used successfully by one researcher at the conference was to force marketers to consume as their consumer does. 

  • Shop on a strict budget (like many of their customers).
  • Shop with children in tow, even if that means “borrowing” kids for a day.
  • Immerse  marketers with triads of like-minded consumers
  • Engage in other non-shopping activities common to the target consumers.
  • And, of course, keep journals to drive their immersion home.

We know and do Immersion extremely well, but Immersion research only works as well as the client wants it to, so we have to constantly look for way to keep things fresh and fun. 

Another way insight managers are using empathy is bringing together cross-functional teams.  We all know how different right- and left-brained individuals think and process information.  It can be extremely difficult for them all to difficult to work on the same page.  By placing cross-functional teams together in the same room with consumers, and holding immersion sessions that help each team member empathize with their consumers, an insights manager got his team to think similarly—like their consumer.  He was then able to hold Ideation sessions that led to productive concept development work. 

In other words, walking in someone else’s shoes has the added benefit of forcing marketers to take of their own.

As we strive to provide marketers with actionable insights and help them connect with their consumers, we must also be consistently looking for new and innovative ways to help them foster empathy for their consumers.  Empathy makes insights real.

Tags: Shopper Insights, Market Research, Market Research Conference

Understanding Millenials at The Shopper Insights in Action Conference

Posted on Wed, Aug 10, 2011

By Hillary Stifler, Research Director

As someone who is on the upper-edge of the Millennial’s age group, I identify more with Generation X, but find Millennials fascinating. They are truly of a different mindset. This is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, and, so as co-workers, parents, peers and marketers, it is important for us to understand them.

This generation has grown up with convenience at their fingertips. They didn't have to go to a library and flip through an encyclopedia to find information. They didn't have to ride their bikes down the street to see friends. And, they didn't have to leave their homes to go shopping. Everything they’ve needed, all their lives, was literally at their fingertips. However, for them, experience trumps convenience. For them, convenience is expected.Shopper Insights in Action

Michelle Fenstermaker, Executive Director, Consumer Insights from WD offered a glimpse into the future of grocery, as driven by Millennials. She reminded us that the grocery format is really no different today than it was 50 years ago. Yet, technology has changed the way we shop, and Millennials' desire for convenience and an experience eventually will too.

Two grocery chains that are doing it "right" are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Visiting the Whole Foods in Chicago is like an adventure. Recently, my friend from California who used to live in Chicago was visiting. In addition to seeing her friends and visiting a few of her old favorite restaurants, a trip to Whole Foods was on her weekend agenda. "A place where I can get lunch, and then get some groceries while sipping a glass of wine? I can't wait." Trader Joe's doesn't offer this same experience, but it does offer shoppers a culinary trip around the world, and at an affordable price. You can find food inspired by every corner of the globe, and the employees are always helpful and very friendly. On top of the experiences these stores offer, they offer personalization (you can always find something that suits your tastes), healthy choices and fresh foods. All of which, in addition to convenience, are important to Millennials.

It would appear that Millennials, who have become so used to using the internet and their mobile devices to research and discuss purchases, look to the actual store for something else.  The store is no longer the “library” where we research and find items, but it is a “playground” where we find and interact with experiences.

Millennials are a huge market, and as such they have the power to influence change in the well-established grocery industry. How will they impact your industry? Knowing Millennials and keeping up with them will ensure your brand keeps up. You must know them because they're a generation who has the technology to find a solution to meet their specific needs, and they are not afraid to go after what they want. After all, they expect instant gratification. Providing a consistent presence across digital and physical that is an experience and gives them the information they need when they want it is a start to stay ahead of the curve!

Tags: Shopper Insights, Market Research, Market Research Conference

Driving Down Your Smartphone Screen

Posted on Mon, Jul 11, 2011

By Robert Relihan, Senior Vice President

A little while ago I noted that technology, principally Smartphone technology, was changing the way we interacted with brick-and-mortar stores.  Technology is altering the shopping experience and, consequently, the discipline of shopper insights.  I am back with more evidence.

Recent research has asked the question, “Why do consumers ‘friend’ companies on Facebook?”  A good question.  The answer is obvious; they do it to get deals and offers.  They do it because they are customers. Are brands buying love?  We will see.  But, buried in the data was an interesting tidbit.  23% of those surveyed had downloaded a brand-specific App to their Smartphones.

Apps are another way to get offers, but they have another feature — a store finder — that can alter the way consumers shop.  I have often asked consumers, “Say you are driving down the street and you see a McDonald’s on your left and a Burger King on right.  Which do you choose and why?”

But, now, when I find myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood or on the road and the uncontrollable urge for a burger comes over me, I swipe across my Smartphone screen, hit the McDonald’s App, find the nearest Golden Arches, and head for it like a laser.  No scanning the signs, no getting waylaid by a Burger King.  I am there.

When I want a cup of coffee, I do the same thing.  I tap on the Starbuck’s App, and I am there.Smartphone Apps

These Apps are that nirvana of marketers, something that short circuits the consumer’s normal behavior and puts a single brand squarely before her eyes to the exclusion of all others.  In the future, I may have to ask consumers, “Say you are looking at (driving down?) your Smartphone screen and you see Apps for McDonald’s and Burger King.  Which do you tap?” This example is hypothetical as there appears to be no Burger King App at the moment.

Another way that Smortphones can alter the shopping experience is by blurring the line between on-line and off-line.  Tesco has driven up sales at its Home Plus stores in South Korea by plastering the walls of subway stations with full-size representations of grocery store aisles.  Each item is accompanied by a QR code.  All busy commuters have to do is scan the items they want with the Home Plus App on their Smartphones, and it is delivered to their home that day.  Is this on-line shopping?  Is it brick-and-mortar shopping?  Thanks to the Smartphone, Tesco has converted bricks-and-mortar to paper-and-paste.

Shopping in the future is going to be very interesting and exceptionally varied.

Tags: Shopper Insights, mobile research, Market Research, market research tools

New Ground for Shopper Insights

Posted on Wed, Apr 13, 2011

By Robert Relihan, Senior Vice President Grocery Gadget

Two weeks ago I added the Grocery Gadgets app to my iPhone.  Being compulsive, I also added it to my iPad.  It lets me build a shopping list from a database of my favorite items.  As I walk through the store, I check the items off as I pull them from the shelves.  Being doubly compulsive, I created a group that lets my wife and I add items to the list from our computers or mobile devices.

While I am really enamored with this new system, Heather is less convinced. Isn’t this just a high tech version of what used to be on the back of an envelope?  Maybe.  But, wait.  I can link the list to a particular store.  As I walk through the store, the app remembers the order in which I selected the items on the list.  The next time I go to that store, bang, the items come up as I walk up to them! 

The app has become my store.  No more dawdling over end-caps.  No more serendipitous discoveries as I notice an attractive display of something I’ve never seen before.  Instead, I discover new products because the app offers me a coupon for a new product. 

This is only the beginning.  An app like myShopanion lets me check what my friends have to say about something I’d like to try…while I am still in the store.  I can easily imagine a future version of GroceryGadget that suggest products to me the way Amazon does or even cycles items to the top of my searches like Google.

What’s really interesting about all of this is that apps like these perform the amazing feat of taking the physical store out of the shopper interaction. The customer becomes their customer, and the store becomes just the middleman. For brands, this could be huge: a direct channel to customers without the hassle of dealing with a gazillion different in-store configurations.

Tags: Shopper Insights, Market Research