6 Steps (Or Hops) To Successful Shopper Research
by Felicia Rogers
Research can be a little bit like the game of hopscotch. You take the first hop, then the second (maybe the third at the same time), then the next, then the next, and so on. All the while, you’re gaining momentum and working hard to stay focused on the outcome: THE FINISH LINE!
We often begin with the end in mind, and that’s a good thing. Thinking about the needed outcomes is the first step. Let me outline the general path to research success:
- Start by understanding and then articulating the business need.
- Choose a research methodology to meet the objectives.
- Opt for the right audience.
- Target your conversation carefully.
- Comb through the data.
- Hold a workshop to leverage the insights.
Do you see what I did there? SCOTCH (as in hopscotch). Okay, perhaps that was just for my own entertainment. Please forgive me. Moving on now…
Let’s dig in further.
- Start by understanding and then articulating the business need. Why do the research? What are the learning objectives? These should be driven by the business objectives. Do we need to build stronger brand loyalty? Are we trying to launch a new private brand? Do we aim to drive increased revenue per basket? Knowing the desired outcomes will help establish the research objectives.
- Choose a research methodology to meet the objectives. Once we know the learning objectives, we can develop a plan for meeting them. The first question is whether we should conduct qualitative or quantitative research. Are we looking to explore a topic with many unknowns (qualitative), or do we need to establish projectable statistics for planning, budget allocation, or some other target metric (quantitative)? Once this question is answered, many options for a specific research methodology can be considered.
- Opt for the right audience. Make sure you have a clear plan regarding which shoppers to include in the research. Perhaps everyone who shops with a certain retailer or for a specific product category is qualified. Or maybe we need to focus on a niche group of shoppers based on something about them personally, their brand preferences, or their shopping habits, etc.
- Target your conversation carefully. Zero in on the right survey questions. Ask them in the right place, at the right time, and in the right amount of detail. When conducting shopping-related research, you typically want to be brief. It’s also often wise to conduct the research in context. That is, intercept or recruit shoppers to join you at the store. This helps them to remember the experience details and provide feedback that’s fresh/in the moment, and to consider any visuals or “what-ifs” that may apply during the research process.
- Comb through the data. Once the data are gathered, the analyst needs to have time to marinate in the details of the qualitative feedback or to investigate every nuance of what the numbers from a quantitative survey are saying. Equally important is often what they’re not saying. A skilled analyst will spend lots of time and energy thinking about every point, raising questions, developing hypotheses and findings, considering the bigger picture, developing conclusions and business implications, and crafting recommendations for moving forward with what the research has revealed.
- Hold a workshop to leverage the insights. Now that research is complete, the rest of the work begins. It’s time to share the information with the broader team and to start making plans. A moderated workshop is a great forum for gathering a cross-functional team of stakeholders to receive the research results at the same time, in the same voice, and with the same amount of detail. The fun really starts when everyone can begin activating on the learning. What can we do with what we’ve learned from our shoppers? Who will be responsible for making certain things happen? Where will these new insights take the organization?
Research with shoppers, or “shopper research,” is conducted for many reasons to address a host of business questions. Depending on the issues uncovered and the decisions to be made about them, these steps might take relatively little time; for far-reaching strategic questions, more time might be required. Either way, leveraging the steps outlined here provides your team with a solid foundation upon which you can build the future of your business.
About the Author
Felicia Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Executive Vice President at Decision Analyst. She may be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.
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