Path to purchase. Point of sale. The moment of truth. Winning at retail. Whether shopper insights is your bag or not, most research professionals are more than familiar with these phrases. It seems you can’t swing a dead cat in this industry without coming across something shopper insights-related.
Based on feedback from Quirk’s readers and the increase in manuscripts we receive on the topic, I knew that this niche was booming but I admit I didn’t understand to what extent until I arrived at the 12th annual Shopper Insights in Action conference last week. What used to be a half-dozen exhibitors and 50-some attendees in an intimate setting has exploded into a major affair. With five different session tracks and over 600 attendees expected this year, that’s 10 times the size it was just a few years ago! Even on the day before the conference officially started, there was standing room-only during several symposia presentations.
That said, as with many divisions of research, these (relatively) early years can be bit wild. Best practices are still being established and the foundation is taking shape amidst an ever-changing technological landscape (i.e., social media, eye-tracking devices, near-field communication, etc.) that has effectively turned shopping experience inside out.
I overheard a few attendees lamenting that there’s a lot of conflicting information needing to be reconciled. For example, while some companies swear by daily deal-type promotions, others claim shoppers find them overwhelming or even annoying. Or, most can agree that targeted advertising is a great idea but there’s no consensus on the best targeting approach or where to draw the line – geography, browser cookies, past purchases, census-level demographics? POPAI claimed in its presentation with PepsiCo that around 75 percent of shopping decisions are made in the store/at the shelf. Later that afternoon Google’s figure was almost exactly the opposite, stating that a similar percent of shopping decisions were made before going to the store (at the “zero moment of truth”). It seems that with shopping technology and research technology changing so rapidly and at the same time, pinning down actual shopper behavior is more difficult than ever, despite having more data than ever before.
I can imagine that as a practitioner it’s exhausting to have to sort through the information to make the best choices for your own projects. As an editor at a research publication, I have the luxury of absorbing it all and trying to give every (valid, supported) perspective a voice. My main takeaway from the conference is that nebulous or not, shopper insights as a discipline is poised for a fast and fascinating ascent. I wish you success in cobbling together your own best practices from the wealth of information available. Here’s hoping that our coverage of shopper insights helps in your endeavors. Let us know which areas you would most like to see covered!