Every January, if you're like me, I'm following what feels like hundreds of articles published with predictions for the coming year. I scan for key themes, and many, including Forbes' 10 predictions for the retail industry, talked about a growing industry commitment to shopper insights and understanding. The Forbes author listed customer-centricity going mainstream as his third prediction for 2019. Music to my ears.
Now at the half-way point of the year, I've been reflecting on where we've come. More and more of our conversations with retailers start with consumer and shopper insights. Rather than moving directly into strategies and tactics, we spend time thoughtfully discussing consumer trends and insights. It's clear that both retailers and manufacturers are committed to bringing in the voice of the shopper in a bigger way, and our retail partnerships are richer as a result.
I've been at Hershey for 21 years, and we've always been at our best when we put the shopper at the center of everything we do, as we are today. After taking the lead of Hershey's category management function a year ago, I challenged our team to do more. To always lead with shopper insights, whether we're talking about the future of pay points, primary and secondary merchandising or our next season. This is especially true with the creation of our Retail Experience Snacking Team (ReSET), which has brought together our industry-recognized shopper insights function with our retail innovation team, the experts who are dreaming up customizable, actionable solutions that will deliver retail growth for our partners.
"We've always been at our best when we put the shopper at the center of everything we do, as we are today."
While we have many studies in the field at any given time, I'd like to focus on two pieces of shopper research that have had an outsized impact on our latest snacks retail thinking, which is highlighted in our latest retail report, “Creating Value in a Shoppers’ World.” Synthesizing multiple studies and many different sources can be challenging in today's data economy. Our team of data scientists and category experts puts an emphasis on converging the insights and connecting the dots for our partners, as we have in our latest report.
To understand what that research typically looks like, we thought we’d give you a glimpse behind the scenes of our “Month in the Life” and "Shopper Value Equation" studies, which are two pieces of the puzzle in informing our latest retail thinking. Here’s a look at the what, how and why of these studies, which was born out of our continual drive to make the shopper part of every decision we make.
Our team wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the shoppers’ retail journey in order to unlock opportunities for growth. To do this, we sought to uncover behavioral patterns, key shopping motivations and attitudes of customers. In addition, we wanted to develop a value framework to better understand the key trade-offs shoppers make on each trip when selecting a retailer.
We followed more than 500 shoppers for a month, collecting information on where they shopped, when they shopped and what they bought. Over the course of 30,000 trips, we surveyed them after each shopping excursion to learn about their “whys:" what were their motivations, attitudes and barriers? We also conducted mobile shop-alongs and focus groups with shoppers across the country to understand how shoppers define value on their shopping trips across multiple classes of trade.
After spending an entire month following 500 shoppers on 30,000 trips, we learned a lot about shopper behavior. Like:
The shopper is at the center of everything we do at Hershey. Today, retailers of all sizes are experimenting with ways to drive trips, build baskets and gain customer loyalty. When shoppers win, retailers win. When retailers win, snacking categories win. So by understanding what motivates customers, and using that complex information to a devise simple shopper value equation, we are able to better understand shoppers, and that in turn makes shoppers feel understood. When that happens, we all come out ahead.
To learn how to action Hershey's research to win with your shoppers, download our report, “Creating Value in a Shopper’s World: A Guide to Unlocking Your Snacks Retail Potential.”