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Is Virtual the answer?

In our last blog, we talked about the growth of new technologies in shopper research. We explained how we can ensure we use new technology and traditional methodologies in the right place at the right time by judging their relevance in line with our business needs, timings and budget. This week, we would like to talk in a little more detail about one technique we are asked about a lot – Virtual Reality.

It has long been possible to build aisles, stores and even streets through a virtual platform that mimics reality. However, through clever programming and design, these platforms increasingly go beyond the basic building blocks of products and buildings, they also incorporate staff, moving shoppers and sound; creating an altogether immersive shopping experience.

This has opened up many different opportunities when it comes to shopper research, especially where generating store permissions is time consuming and difficult. Having your own virtual store is surely the answer to all of your prayers??…allowing you to research what you want, when you want!

Well, virtual reality most definitely has its place in the world of shopper insight, but it isn’t the right tool for all your business issues. Having spent the last fifteen years researching shoppers in both real and virtual stores, we want to share some of our pearls of wisdom around how and where virtual research is most appropriate for your research needs.

Diagnosing vs. Testing

Most virtual research providers will be able to provide you with some kind of statistic which demonstrates how closely virtual reality mimics real behaviours in-store. Whilst this may be true when looking at certain metrics, we believe that there is only so far a virtual platform can go when reflecting reality. There are so many factors in-store that will influence your behaviour at shelf….your mindset, your mission, whether you have children with you, the weather, how hungry and thirsty you are, the number of shoppers in the store, etc.

Whilst virtual research can do its very best to try and factor in these elements, it will never reflect complete reality. We also have to consider that shoppers are not spending real money during a virtual shopping task, and have the luxury of sitting in a lab or their own home, rather than a crowded cluttered store. We often see metrics like dwell time and number of selections being higher in the virtual environment because of these factors – shoppers don’t have the urgency or monetary restraints they may have in a real shopping scenario. For these reasons, we believe virtual reality is not the starting point for understanding how your category or store area is being shopped. To diagnose shopping behaviour, you should use a research tool that allows you to understand real behaviours in the moment.

Where virtual reality has a real benefit however, is when you come to test initiatives rather than diagnose behaviours.

You may have a new shelf layout you want to trial, or perhaps you want to see how some POS stands out in the aisle. Testing in actual stores can be a real headache. You require buy-in and permission from retailers to use their stores for trials (a challenge in itself). Significant changes need to be made to that fixture; often at great expense and time (e.g. mocking up prototype POS or relaying an entire aisle) and you are exposing what could be confidential ideas to anyone that may happen to enter those trial stores (including your competition).

When you test in virtual reality, you have the benefit of controlling the entire environment – to ensure you can completely isolate the elements you want to test (e.g. a retailer can’t add a promotion to a brand which may skew the results). It’s easy and quick to create multiple testing scenarios at the click of a button, allowing you to test concepts that may otherwise never make it past the drawing board. It also allows you to test everything against a control scenario. This means even if some behaviours are more artificial than you would see in a real store, all changes can be accurately compared to your control, which is what is important to enable you to test the true impact of the initiative you are trialling.

Quite often, it is the results of a virtual trial that convince a retail partner to trial your concepts in a test bed of their own stores – moving you one step closer to a roll out of successful ideas.

In Aisle vs Out of Aisle

The next area where you need to judge the suitability of virtual reality is against the scope of the environment you want to understand – are you looking to explore behaviour within a confined environment (i.e. within an aisle) or a more expansive environment (i.e. a total store or department shop).

We believe virtual reality has more relevance for research when you are interested in evaluating behaviours within an aisle. All respondents have to be pre-recruited for a virtual task, which becomes much easier if you can recruit them against shopping specific categories and brands. Respondents also have to be set a task – and the most suitable task for a virtual platform is to shop a category of interest. This means you only have to invest in the full virtual build of one fully shoppable aisle (your aisle), and shoppers can be dropped into the environment close to that aisle to complete their mission.

This is the quickest, most straight forward and cost effective route for virtual reality.

However, if you wanted to know how many shoppers passed and shopped a particular gondola end within a store, this would be more challenging to execute virtually. You can’t ask respondents directly to shop the gondola or category, you would have to task them to shop the entire store or section of a store and see how many of them noticed or shopped the gondola in question. This is possible virtually, but requires a more significant environment build which comes at a cost. The larger the area, the more difficult it would be to execute using an on-line virtual platform too (the file size would crash most home PC’s). It would also take much longer to field, as shoppers could in theory be shopping for 25 minutes as they are browsing a store or large area.

A quicker and more cost effective way of testing this type of issue would be some filmed or in-person observations in a real store – where you could track the actual number of shoppers who passed, shopped and purchased from the gondola end – focusing the research in this particular area, observing natural conversion to the gondola.

In summary, as with all shopper tools, there is a time and a place for using virtual reality as a platform for shopper research. The most suitable, and the area where virtual excels, is in-aisle test-based research – understanding the impact of range changes, merchandising solutions and POS communication. Virtual reality certainly opens up opportunities for different types of shopper research, but it shouldn’t be a panacea for every shopper issue we want to research.

Using technology for shopper research

Technology – isn’t it amazing to think of the advancements that have been made even in our lifetimes. There have also been some amazing technological advancements when it comes to how we research shoppers. We are no longer limited to in-store interviews and traditional focus groups. We can track the paths of shoppers using RFID mobile technology, we can build virtual aisles and stores to test new concepts, we can `scrape` your web screen to generate purchasing data and we can even scan shoppers’ brains as well as their till receipts!

These advancements open up many different opportunities when it comes to conducting research, and if used correctly, can provide cost and time savings; two crucial currencies in our industry. However, with this choice comes decision paralysis, and as research buyers, we need to be sure we are using research-based technology in the right place at the right time. A good shopper research agency should be cherry picking different methods and technologies for you, by considering the three crucial factors which will dictate where and when technology is relevant …

1. What is your Business Issue?

Your business issue should always be at the heart of any research solution. Too often even as research buyers, we get fixated on the method rather than the business issue. This often governs who the brief is even sent to in the first place – instantly limiting us if we have jumped to the wrong method for our issue.

Any good agency should be working with you to diagnose the various elements of your issue which will subsequently determine the methods, platforms and technologies that will be most relevant to you…

Consider the following questions before deciding on the right technology…

WHAT are we trying to understand? Identifying what business levers you are trying to pull is crucial as a starting point. If for example you are looking to better inform in-store merchandising, you need to understand how a fixture is shopped in the moment, which means on-line platforms/technology aren’t going to deliver.

If you are trying to test a shopper marketing concept that is very futuristic or confidential, then a platform such as virtual reality is ideal; allowing you to test shopping behaviours in a controlled, private virtual environment.

There are even different types of eye tracking technologies which are suitable for different business issues. One might be more suitable if you’re issue is about packaging, and are most interested in how and what shoppers look at on packs. If you want to evaluate navigational signage, there are eye trackers better suited to measuring visibility whilst in motion.

WHO are we targeting? Which group of shoppers are you trying to talk to and in which category? If for example you’re researching a sensitive category such as Sexual Wellbeing, then a face to face group is going to be uncomfortable for the majority! In this scenario, technology can play a huge role – conducting qualitative research via on-line bulletin boards for example, will feel much more comfortable, encouraging more honest responses.

WHERE we want to research will also dictate the use and role of technology. For example researching in discounters can prove challenging, but that shouldn’t prevent us from learning … mobile technology can help document behaviour as it happens. Equally if we are trying to understand transient forecourt behaviour, then pre-recruited research will be almost impossible, so similar technology can be applied to understand what, when and why shoppers buy. So technology can really help overcome the barriers that are apparent for traditional techniques in such channels.

2. Timings

Understanding your business issue is one thing, but doing this in isolation of your time scales will not always provide you with the right end research solution. Again technology can be used to speed things up … for example a quick read on some basic questions from an on-line omnibus can be turned around much more quickly than an in-store survey. An in-store mobile survey whilst limiting in terms of the granularity and detail provided, can provide almost instantaneous results if you need some headlines back more quickly.

3. Budget

Going hand in hand with timings is budget. Be mindful that using technology does not always provide the cheapest option. For example, in-person observations for a small area of a store are likely to be more cost effective than using a camera solution. A set of traditional accompanied shops may be cheaper than some mobile qualitative research.

A good shopper research agency should be finding the best blend of method, platform and technology to meet your issue, budget and timings. Technology opens many doors, but is not always the right solution for these three parameters. Let’s not forget – when we commission research, we are actually paying for actionable insights, not technologies or methods. If technology allows us to get to these insights more quickly and cost effectively, then all is well and good. But don’t throw away those traditional techniques just yet, as they are sometimes just as powerful at getting to the end result! If you work with an agency that truly understands shopper behaviour, then they will find the right solution for your needs.

Driving the success of Discounters

Who can remember life before Discounters?

You will have been living in a vacuum if you haven’t read about the success of Discounters in recent years. Those who claimed they would never set foot inside such a store have started to become intrigued about what they have to offer…and they can’t help but be impressed.

When understanding how people shop is your day job, you can’t go to any store without over-analysing the experience, so why are Discounters doing so well…

We should always remember that shoppers are expecting retailers to optimise one or more of the following currencies for them when they shop; their time, their money and the experience they have. So how do Discounters maximise these?

1. Time

The time factor is definitely a key channel driver for most shoppers. Go to any of the large multiples and you struggle to spend less than 25 minutes in-store. However most shoppers can be in and out of Aldi or Lidl on a main shopping mission in less than 15 minutes!

So why is shopping in Discounters so quick and efficient?

Range/Choice – the range within Discounters is very focused, holding around 1500 – 2000 lines compared to the 30,000 plus that one of the Big 4 might carry. Far from limiting choice, this often encourages shoppers to buy more as they are exposed to categories they wouldn’t even consider buying in other retailers. This is a basic shopper principle; less = more. Shoppers often don’t feel short changed by reductions in range, in fact when range reductions have been researched shoppers often cite having MORE choice, not less, for the simple reason they can actually SEE what is there!

The limited range makes it EASY for shoppers – you can quickly go up and down the aisles rejecting categories at a glance if they are not on your list. Equally, there is no need to spend hours procrastinating over which blend of pasta sauce to buy; making choice easier. The downside is that they don’t always have everything you need, but the time saving outweighs the ability to choose every time for most shoppers.

Layout – the second element of the discount experience that saves time is the layout. Go into any Lidl or Aldi in the country, and it will look almost identical. Regardless of which store you go to from one town to the next, you know exactly where everything is, there’s no need to learn a new store layout as layout is consistent. This enables shoppers to draw upon their ‘learnt cognitive map’ and quickly locate products in store. Nothing annoys shoppers more than a store re-fit, as they have to re-learn this map all over again, spending their time navigating rather than buying (not an efficient driver of spend per second for retailers!)

Queue Time – Shoppers hate to queue! As shoppers we frequently agonise over which queue to choose and whether the person next to us is moving quicker than you. Not in Discounters! The staff are practically throwing the products at you, and it’s a learnt art to pack this quickly. This maybe a barrier to some shoppers, but for those that love shopping in Discounters its part of the appeal.

The entrance into online and convenience stores for Aldi also suggests that they are striving harder for more ways to win on the time/convenience currency.

2. Money

The clue is in the name for Discounters – and there is no doubt that overall basket spend is significantly less than other channels on the same mission. Their straight forward pricing strategy means that you don’t have to look out for deals and do the maths in-store (something we know shoppers don’t enjoy). This gives shoppers permission to buy more… splashing out on the “deluxe” range or buying an £8 bottle of wine, because they feel they are getting better value for money. So it’s not always about buying the cheapest, but offering value.

3. Experience

The experience is perhaps the currency that Discounters lack the most – and indeed where other channels can up their game. However, everything is relative, and given you are effectively shopping in a warehouse, there are a few `highs` that give you a sniff of that experience.

The `here today gone tomorrow` non-food offers that feature everything from gardening spades through to motorbike gloves are a little random, but are always packed with shoppers delving around for a bargain. A little light relief from the grocery shop, this adds a level of excitement! The Discounters execute this strategy well – with a good path to purchase shopper marketing campaign. The door drops highlight these `exclusive` deals, which encourage footfall and build the anticipation of what is coming next. The fact that they always sell out of the top sellers suggest this is a great tactic for the retailers.

Lidl and Aldi have well executed ATL campaigns – which really deliver the food/consumption experience shoppers are looking for – highlighting provenance, freshness and quality at affordable prices. However, this is not consistent through the line, as when you get to the store itself, it’s not always easy to find those ostrich burgers or prawn wan-tans that look so good on your big screen. We know that shoppers are in auto-pilot when they enter stores, forgetting what they have learnt elsewhere. Some simple POS or in-store displays featuring these items could help to raise better awareness towards them in-store – creating better consistency through the line.

So, the conversion to Discounters continues, although for most this is not the only channel used. Discounters deliver very well against two of the three key currencies for shoppers – time and money. Even though the experience is not as strong, the time and money savings compensate for this, and some small changes could enhance the experience further without compromising the other currencies. This also gives other channels the opportunity to work harder on the experience, where they can’t always match on price and time.

How to break the promotional habit

No matter how much we don’t want it to be, price still remains at the top of the shopper agenda. Despite the fact that we are coming out of a period of austerity, the habits that we have picked up during this period are here to stay, creating a price conscious shopper.

The emergence of price comparison sites, on-line shopping and discounters has made these behaviours even more apparent.

Promotions are a key facilitator to offering price discounts to shoppers and have become the rule rather than the exception. We all know that it devalues our categories, but how can we stop it?

The answer is we probably can’t! But perhaps we can get smarter about how we execute promotions to break the habit. Here are some tips of how we think you can do this…

1. Consider WHO you are targeting with your promotions

We often launch a promotion without truly understanding who we are trying to target, and what shopper behaviour change we are trying to influence. This should be the start point for any promotional activity. For example, what type of shopper and what mission are we trying to attract? If it’s a top up shopper with a small basket for example, then a multi-buy is probably not the best mechanic to use.

2. Keep it simple

Like with most things to do with shopping, simplicity and transparency are key. Whether shopping online or in-store, we would prefer to be doing something else with our time, so the more we can do to make it easier to shop, the happier shoppers will be.

The ability to continually check prices means we need to be transparent. When applying that to promotions, you need to make sure you are clear on what you are offering. For example price mark packs often help – especially in channels such as convenience where value is more of a barrier.

Shoppers don’t want to do the maths either, so we need to use mechanics that make it as simple as possible. This may include things like round pound deals or price per unit offers – as they make it easy for people to calculate value at speed.

3. Shout Louder about what you do!

As we’ve already discussed, shoppers don’t want to do the maths in-store, and many won’t. We’ve all seen examples of promotions that fly off the shelf, but when you work out the saving to the shopper, it’s sometimes very minimal. The key is therefore not always the depth of the deal, but how loud you shout about it. Using a simple well packaged promotion that is communicated through the line will attract shoppers attention in a visually noisy shopping environment

4. Consider what language is motivating to shoppers

We are living in the age of social networking where peer to peer endorsement is vital. We should use this concept when applying it to promotional language. For example a sign saying “best selling product of the week” is likely to resonate with shoppers, but a sign saying “best selling product in this store” is even more likely to resonate, as shoppers feel an association with people in THEIR store and THEIR town. This promotion below is another good example of using smart language to appeal to shoppers – the definitive end point will add a sense of ‘must buy it now’ pressure to shoppers, suggesting it’s a good deal.

5. Add value to shoppers aside from unit price

Whilst price clearly is a huge driver of choice, it is not the only way we can create value for shoppers. We need to tap into the other drivers for our shoppers by understanding them better and what motivates them. Free gifts, prizes and other mechanics can also work. The Coke name on a bottle is a great example of a campaign that’s tapped into something that’s valuable to shoppers, other than price. It’s a case of understanding your target shopper and finding out what type of things will add value to them.

In summary, to improve the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns:

• Be focused with who you are targeting

• Keep it simple

• Shout louder about what you do

• Use effective language

• Think beyond price to add value

Implementing shopper-led packaging

Packaging is a brand asset owned and controlled by the Marketing function within our organisations; and more often than not, the design and structure of the pack is created with the consumer in mind. However, there is another stakeholder for which the pack is crucial – the shopper! Packaging acts as the primary mechanic to find and choose products in-store. It’s therefore imperative that we take shopper behaviour into consideration when creating packaging.

So what do we need to understand?

As with most shopper activity, we need to understand the shoppers’ task at the shelf, as this will determine the primary role for our packaging from a shoppers view point. For a large group of shoppers, their task will be to find and buy their usual brand at shelf. In this case, the role for the packaging is to facilitate the navigation process in-store.

This is fairly easy for brands with a large pack structure and multiple facings. For example, walking into the Soft Drinks aisle, it is easy to see Diet Coke, as the products are large and multi-faced. If you have a smaller pack with limited facings, you need to consider supporting mechanics like secondary packaging (SRP) to help your pack become more visible.

The other aspect of packs that will help shoppers to find them easily is the visual trigger associated with that brand. The visual trigger can be a combination of colour, shape and iconography that enables shoppers to easily identify your brand.

Brands packaged with a very strong visual trigger benefit from having quick recognition, allowing shoppers to find them easily; which in turn maximises brand conversion. If our brands don’t have a strong visual trigger, shoppers will struggle to find the pack in-store; resulting in brand walk aways. On many occasions, brand managers decide to “refresh” packaging without considering these visual cues (we’ve all seen the examples of this and what it does to brand sales!). Changing packaging is of course necessary for the evolution of brands, the key is retaining the visual triggers and changing everything else!

Identifying your visual trigger is fairly simple – if you had to remove all but three items from your pack, what would you keep in order for shoppers to be able to recognise the brand?

If you can’t do this easily, you need to spend time researching exactly what the triggers are for your brands, otherwise you are in danger of losing the elements that are key to shopper recognition in any future pack refreshes.

Own label brands are now doing this very well with their different store brands (e.g. Tesco Finest, Sainsbury’s Basics range). The visual triggers for these brands are consistent across categories, allowing shoppers to navigate to them quickly and easily.

Aside from the shoppers looking to find a pre-planned product, the remaining shoppers in your categories will be there to browse, without a clear idea of the exact product they want to buy. For these shoppers, the role of the pack is about attraction and persuasion.

In order to attract attention, a pack needs to be disruptive from its surroundings. Disruption can be created through colours, shapes or movement. For example, Old El Paso is disruptive within the Cooking Sauces aisle due to its disruptive yellow packaging.

Packs can be persuasive by communicating call to action messages relevant to shoppers. However, we need to be mindful about how many messages we are trying to communicate on pack, which will be governed by how involving the shopping process is within your category.

We also need to communicate the right message – to do this, we need to understand what the purchase drivers are for browsers at shelf. For example, is it about health? value? product efficacy?

Understanding the drivers will ensure we communicate the right messages on packs to persuade browsing shoppers to buy our brand.

In more involving categories, shoppers can be observed to pick up packs and read the back for further information. It’s important for you to understand if this behaviour is apparent within your category, and if it is, what information they are looking for. Having this understanding will ensure you communicate the right call to action messages on packs to aid conversion.

In summary, if you apply the principles discussed here, you will allow planned shoppers to find your brand easily (achieving growth through preventing lost sales), whilst also attracting and inspiring those undecided shoppers to buy your brands (achieving growth by attracting new shoppers).

Shopping – it’s like driving

Last week was no different to any other, as I was driving around the country to various meetings in unfamiliar territory, well that was until disaster struck and my sat nav stopped working! (gasp!)

All of a sudden, I was forced to navigate for myself whilst driving, and the only thing that was there to help me were the road signs. Some were useful, but there weren’t enough in my opinion, and it made for quite a stressful trip.

This whole experience got me thinking about in-store and on-line signage – what is the role for it and does it help or hinder shoppers?

Like driving, shoppers rely on navigational cues to help them find products in-store. Even though shoppers may be very familiar with the store layout (just like we are with our route home from work) they are still sub consciously using visual cues to get them to the right place in store. On many occasions, shoppers rely on products themselves to do this (similar to the use of landmarks when driving). Shoppers use the iconic colours and shapes associated with a product within the category to help them navigate. For example – large dark coloured bottles with red labels cue that we are at the soft drinks category. Bright yellow boxes show shoppers where the Mexican food category is in-store.

This is all well and good in categories that benefit from hugely iconic brands, or where the product cues are easy to distinguish between segments. However, not all categories have this luxury, and therefore navigation becomes more of a problem. Take for example the fresh produce aisle. If I want to find chicken, the product itself is not enough, and signage is my only hope!

However too often, retailers and manufacturers forget the purpose of signage. Signage should be in-store to help shoppers navigate, and this becomes more difficult when we are bombarded with too many distractions or if the messaging is overly complex.

Signage works because our eyes are attracted to anything discontinuous from their surroundings. Fins work extremely well because they interrupt the flow of shelves and products along an aisle. However, if we interrupt this flow too often, and continually block the view of products, then the fins become a distraction and will be filtered out by shoppers. We also forget that shoppers are unable to process much when they are shopping, and we try to over complicate the signage itself in a bid to communicate as many marketing messages as possible!

The following examples show signage being used well by retailers …

Simple colour coded signage has been used to help shoppers differentiate between meat types, with simple uncomplicated language to clarify what type of meat can be found where. The Crayola example shows how we can signpost a sub-category which may have been struggling to cut through within a colourful and visually noisy environment.

Secondly, Sainsbury’s have used good visual signage to help us find those categories that can change location from store to store. They have used the key colour and shape cues from signpost brands to assist shopper navigation. They could however, improve this further if they supported the signage with some aisle fins, as aside from some navigation, generally shoppers won’t look up whilst shopping.

So how will you know if your category signage has been effective?

Well, simply asking shoppers probably won’t help!

Shoppers are unlikely to recall seeing signage (in the same way you won’t recall every road sign you’ve used on your journey), as the processing of the information is more likely to be sub conscious.

But just because you don’t recall it, it doesn’t mean it has not been useful. If we tracked your eye movement whilst driving, we would see that you had used plenty of signage, despite the fact that you couldn’t remember it. Exploring visual activity is therefore one element that helps to identify if signage has been effective.

Secondly, if we asked you to rank the ease of navigation on two unfamiliar road routes – one with and one without signage, we would no doubt observe that the route with signage is considered easier to navigate. Indirectly exploring ease of shop by testing different scenarios is another element that should be used to identify the effectiveness of signage.

We often want to see direct recall or immediate sales uplifts for our investment, but this is unlikely due to the sub conscious use of signage in-store. There is however a longer term benefit to using signage – if we can make the shopping experience easier for shoppers, their long term loyalty will provide the return on investment.

In summary, shopping is like driving – we often do it on autopilot, and we use landmarks as navigational prompts. Sometimes however, there are not enough of these prompts, or we are not familiar with them, meaning we need signage. But to be effective, these signs need to be visible and made so simple that shoppers process them sub consciously.

How to optimise gondola ends

Gondola ends are the most lucrative location in a store for our brands right?

Well this maybe so…. but it doesn’t mean that we are maximizing their sales potential. We need to get much smarter about how we execute at gondola ends to optimise the available green shoots there. The question is HOW do we do this? The answers lie with understanding your shoppers better …

Here are our four top tips to get you started:

Tip One – Consider mission and mindset when choosing where to buy gondola space

Store layouts haven’t fundamentally changed in 60 years, but how we use the space has. With a greater emphasis on smaller basket missions, gone are the days when shoppers trawl up and down every aisle, having the opportunity to see all of our product offers and gondola ends. Shoppers are focused in their movement around store; following a learnt cognitive map for their specific mission today.
Having good visibility for our gondola ends means being in the parts of the store where the key shopping missions DO visit. Some of the obvious store zones with high footfall will be near to categories such as fresh, chilled and bread. But all brands will be clambering to get into this space, meaning we need a better understanding of missions and store usage if we want to find some alternative locations.
Missions should also influence WHAT we promote on the gondolas. If the majority of shoppers are carrying a basket, then a BOGOF on heavy 2 litre soft drinks is probably not the best idea!Shopper mindset will also influence the performance of our gondola ends in different locations. During the early part of their trip, shoppers will understandably have higher energy levels; making them more receptive to deals and offers. The further into the shop they go, the more fatigued they become. Coupled with feeling tired, shoppers are increasingly aware of how much they have already spent; meaning they may think twice about that deal on the end. Not to mention the more practical considerations such as “do I really want that heavy box of beer squashing my bread and vegetables?”Therefore, understanding how stores are used, what missions people are generally completing and their mindset in each store zone should be influencing where in store we invest in gondola space.Tip Two – Passing doesn’t mean noticing

We all know what it’s like when we go shopping….it’s so routine that we often switch off. Therefore we become blinkered. This means that we miss things, and gondola ends are no exception. Ok … they might sell WELL, but they could sell MORE if we could only convert a fraction more of those shoppers passing our display. Increased conversion can be achieved through better VISIBILITY for the deal and product we are promoting – making more passing shoppers SEE your gondola.

Generating optimum stand out will result from better understanding shoppers. If we consider how shoppers use a store and therefore approach a gondola end, they will typically view the gondola end from the power aisle or whilst entering or exiting an aisle.

Yet, with a typical gondola end, the communication and display is least visible from both these angles.

This means that many shoppers are not going to SEE your offer and therefore won’t consider or buy it – a wasted sales opportunity.

Many retailers are already on the way to solving this by executing things like off-set aisles – where you are able to see the gondola head on when you walk down an aisle, rather than seeing another aisle. Angled gondolas and communication facing the traffic flow are other popular tactics that really help to increase gondola end visibility.

Tip Three – consider the ROLE of the gondola end

The primary objective for brands buying gondola space will be to shift extra product. However, in most cases, branded gondola offers will also be sold in the main aisle. This begs the question of where the brand uplift has been generated from – the gondola or the aisle? Do shoppers buying from the end also enter the aisle or do they walk away? Do shoppers buying the brand from the main aisle also engage with the gondola display? If we can’t answer these questions, we won’t know what the true ROLE is for that gondola end. Are we selling stock on deal to people who would have purchased anyway? Are we encouraging shoppers to avoid the main aisle by putting key brands on the end? Or is the gondola end acting as a prompt for shoppers to visit the main aisle? Answers to these questions help us to understand what we put on the gondola end (e.g. best selling brands or NPD) and whether it’s essential for the display to be adjacent to the main associated aisle. The answers will come from observing your shoppers and their behaviours in the store.

Tip four- keep it simple!

The fourth and final tip today is one that runs throughout all our recommendations when it comes to shoppers – keep it simple!

We can only process a limited amount of information when shopping, so the simpler the message and the offer, the easier it will be for shoppers to decode and make decisions. This could be a visual of the product on the side of the gondola, with a simple price message (as per the example above).

In summary, gondola ends are a valuable sales vehicle for us. Shoppers have learnt that deals are often located here and more often than not, we see an uplift when our brands are on the end. However, more could be done to optimise our investment here by:

• Understanding WHERE to buy space through better understanding missions and mindset

• Making product and offer more VISIBLE to passing traffic

• Understanding the ROLE for the gondola end

• Keeping the message and offer SIMPLE!

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