“We have to marry both the data as well as the more artful side of shopping – understanding how people operate and engage with them directly. One of the things I feel passionate about is there is no substitute for actually spending time with people,” Dr. Christopher Gray told BakeryandSnacks.com.
It was this merge of data and human perspective that created true shopper insights, he said. “You really get the sense of possibility when you see a great insight.”
Data is powerful, but has limitations
Big brands were often swimming in sophisticated data, Gray said, but those details had to be connected with personal experiences to create true insights.
“Data is very powerful; there are also limitations… Data has such richness – it can tell us a lot about someone, but to develop that intuitive sense of what our target thinks is important; what matters to them; what’s going to motivate them; what they care about; what their aspirations are – that is difficult to get through data alone,” he said.
Spending time with consumers enables you to work out how they tick, he said. Spending time with consumers in their home, shopping with them to understand needs before and after the store was vital, Gray said.
Human perspective enabled an understanding on purchase barriers for shoppers which was “critically important”, he explained. With barriers identified, manufacturers could develop strategies to overcome them, he said, making the shopping experience easier, faster or more enjoyable, for example.
Different shops, different shoppers?
The shopping landscape had evolved hugely over the past decade, Gray said, with a flurry of new platforms including online and mobile and these different shopping environments were important to consider. While there were differences in shopping behavior, looking at all platforms revealed underlying similarities in human needs and emotions.
“So, you think about why a mum historically was buying snacks for her kids – the underlying emotional needs, the need to create those connections, the need to feel like they’re creating fun for their children – those are still the same today. But, the way we go about it though is often very, very different.”
Manufacturers, he said, needed to work strategically to meet the needs of shoppers using this knowledge.
“What you see is both similarities and differences, and it’s important to recognize both. So, many times when we’re creating strategy we’re looking at what the overarching idea we want to communicate to the shopper, but also what that will look like when we look across retailers.”
Don’t forget the triple win
While understanding shoppers’ needs and motivations in store was vital, Gray said branding and retail needs could not be forgotten. “Understand where you can draw a connection, by meeting the needs of your brand, of the retailer and of the shopper – it’s the three circles. We call it the triple win.”
This ‘triple win’, he said, was not necessarily easy but it was a necessity for a successful marketing strategy.