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12/07/2021

Why store brands should use consumer insights to enhance the shopping experience

Nihal Advani, CEO of QualSights, provides details on how consumer insights can optimize the customer shopping experience and enhance marketing campaigns.

According to recent reports, private labels have struggled in the past year compared to name brands. Over the course of 52 weeks, sales for brand names reached $536 billion, while private label sales only reached $142 billion. 

To combat competition and better understand target audiences, it is imperative that store brands integrate consumer insights throughout their product development and marketing processes. Gathering deep, authentic feedback from shoppers is a great way for retailers, particularly those with private labels, to understand the motivating factors behind purchases for private label products and to measure how well they perform compared to name-brand competitors. Here are a few ways store brands can tap into their consumers’ experiences to enhance overall business and profitability: 

The value in consumer insights
Consumer insights benefit businesses in many ways. First, they provide additional context behind a consumer’s purchase decision, which allows brands to determine whether or not they’re successfully meeting their consumers’ needs. Gathering in-the-moment feedback grants retailers access to their consumers’ most visceral and honest thoughts to a brand’s products.

Genuine feedback also empowers retailers to create more authentic message testing, creating more effective marketing campaigns and strategies.  For example, testing how key audiences will react to new messaging, whether it’s for an in-store activation, a new product or service description, marketing campaign, or a total rebrand — prior to it launching saves companies time and money.

Concept/message testing allows brands to mitigate potential negative reactions to their product or messaging. The research focuses on identifying the honest reactions of participants when they are presented with a new product, general brand messaging or advertising campaigns. Carefully studying their honest reactions and finding common themes among the group, both positive and negative, will help retailers assess which concepts/messaging can go live and which will need to be revised. While concept testing and message testing is traditionally a time and labor-intensive process, newly emerged technology have made this a much more efficient process, thereby making it easier for brands to avoid costly mistakes.

The opportunity to generate deeply authentic insights does not start and end with the consumer’s experience in the store. In order to develop a holistic understanding of consumers’ perception of a particular brand, it is important to take a broad approach and investigate their thoughts about the category, their daily habits and preferences and more. Mobile ethnographies allow brands to virtually visit their consumer’s home and see the world through their eyes. Consumers can articulate the reasons that drew them to a private label product and even provide feedback on the quality of the product while using it in their home.

Target consumers in stores and online
Shopping experiences look much different online than they do in-store, and retailers can use insights to improve both of these unique experiences. For in-store shopping, merchandising, shelf signage and find-ability play important roles in the consumer purchase decision. With respect to online shopping, considerations like website messaging and imagery, online customer service and product availability influence purchase decisions.

Virtual shop-alongs are a great way for store brand executives to better understand the consumer shopping experience for both in-store and online shopping. In-store virtual shop-alongs allow consumers to video record or broadcast their experiences via their smartphone in real time while they’re shopping. Whereas online virtual shop-alongs allow consumers to record their screen in real time as they are shopping on their phone or computer.  Equipped with this level of detailed insights, store brands can then create a comprehensive and accurate consumer journey which, in turn, will allow them to identify and execute against the improvements that must be made to the user experience both in-store and online.

Insights also help determine reasons for purchases, which can be used to enhance product placement on store shelves. A well-known example of this is impulse purchase products (i.e., gum, candy, magazines, etc.) that are positioned right by the cash register. However, leveraging meaningful consumer insights can help retailers take this concept further and encourage more regular and repeat purchases of these kinds of products.

Additionally, thanks to innovative advances in market research, there is software that can detect and organize non-verbal forms of feedback like facial expressions and verbal expressions of sentiment. For example, if a consumer says words like “happy” or “expensive," store brands can monitor verbiage surrounding their products to gather data on sentiment. In the context of online shopping, consumer insights can help suggest last-minute private label items to add to carts based on current or previous purchase history. With the help of consumer insights, store brands can anticipate consumer needs to encourage repeat purchases, suggest items upon checkout online, improve email marketing efforts and decide which items to provide discounts on.  

Store brands can greatly benefit from consumer insights. Understanding product perception compared to branded competitors is a great way to help brands improve the quality and messaging around their private label products to help increase profitability and private label brand recognition. 

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Nihal Advani is CEO of QualSights, an immersive insights platform that empowers brands, consulting firms, and agencies to reveal life’s meaningful moments and generate authentic insights from consumers anywhere in the world.

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