Traditional in-store behavioral research has typically grappled with a fundamental issue of response-based data capture: the ability of people to remember, after the fact, in the moment actions, motivations, and thought processes. Grocery store trips can be full of distractions: lists, kids, fellow shoppers, promotions, signage, trials and more. With so much to process, shoppers are not always in the right mode to mentally make note of everything they do for the sake of research. In-store shop-alongs are one solution, but they’re expensive and don’t really scale. What’s more, there’s an unmeasurable potential for a shopalong observer to change a shopper’s behavior, as the shopper tries to present how they’d “like” their shopping experience to be. So how do researchers address this? This was the concern posed by FocusVision and Fresh Intelligence, a North American market research firm when undertaking a study to investigate shopping habits and purchasing decision factors among snack food consumers.
The ideal approach had to not only capture shoppers’ in-store activity and behaviors but also explore related contexts and motivations. For this reason, the study comprised a multi-stage, mixed-mode qualitative exploration to provide the most seamless and engaging experience for respondents at every stage. For background context and in-home research, an in-depth online bulletin board was used, encouraging participants to describe their home “snack stash”, using photos as prompts, and to record their in-home snack experiences.
To explore in-store behavior, Revelation, FocusVision’s mobile digital qualitative platform was used, due to consumers’ increasing use of mobile devices while shopping. Through Revelation, participants were asked to share pictures of their shopping experience while they were in the store. This allowed data to be collected in the moment and did not rely upon post-trip recall.
“Fresh Intelligence has earned a reputation for innovative methods and creative, customized approaches to delivering the absolute best insights clients need to achieve their business objectives. Working with FocusVision allowed us to get closer than ever to consumers’ in-store shopping experiences, behaviors and thought processes, in ways that delivered scalable, genuine and real-time insights.”
The study yielded powerful insights into consumer snack behavior. It all begins at home, where most snacks fall into two categories: healthy and unhealthy. Consumers eat healthy snacks like fruits, nuts or nutrition bars as part of their daily routine or to “kill” cravings for unhealthy snacks. Unhealthy snacks such as potato chips or chocolate bars are used as comfort food, an occasional treat or to satisfy a craving. The study also revealed that at the store, a consumer is either “hunting” (i.e. looking for a specific snack and going directly to a specific aisle to purchase it) or “browsing” (i.e. looking up and down many aisles in the store). Browsing often took the form of “controlled browsing”, where the consumer looked up and down all the aisles but steered away from chip or cookie sections to avoid temptation. Through these data points and more, the study showed how utilizing mobile-friendly qualitative technology can help researchers capture in-the-moment consumer insights, which can illuminate all-important behavioral and emotional triggers. This valuable information can help brands increase shopping frequency, basket size and loyalty, and in the end, convert more shoppers into buyers.