The secrets of attracting and engaging more shoppers in-store when it matters… 

How do all the topics on this page come together to create a store…

Stand out in-store and make more meaningful connections with shoppers…

How to get your next new product onto the radars of more shoppers more often … 

Understand your competitive position from a shopper perspective…

Attract attention and engage shoppers much more effectively…

Discover what shoppers want from adjacencies and product group associations…

Add the shopper to your next category management strategy… 

What happens when real shoppers come face to face with your product on shelf?…

Proven formula for optiminsing in-store stand out and retaining more margin…

Find out how to make your products more desirable to shoppers in-store…

Identify how shopper needs and missions vary at a retail channel level… 

Shopper Research

  • Shelf Analysis
  • What happens when real shoppers come face to face with your product on shelf?…

  • Promotions Research
  • Proven formula for optimising in-store stand out and retaining more margin…

  • Product Research
  • Find out how to make your products more desirable to shoppers in-store…

  • Packaging Research
  • The secrets of attracting and engaging more shoppers in-store when it matters…

  • NPD Insight
  • How to get your next new product onto the radars of more shoppers more often …

  • Department Solutions
  • Discover what shoppers want from adjacencies and product group associations…

  • Channel Solutions
  • Identify how shopper needs and missions vary at a retail channel level…

  • Brand Research
  • Understand your competitive position from a shopper perspective…

Shopper Research
Shopping Behaviour Analysis

"Anyone that is serious about shopper research needs to get SBXL involved, as they are the only research company we have recognised to date who knows..."

Leading FMCG Organisation


Are you blind to what shoppers see in store?

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Shoppers can't tell you how they behave

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Grocery Store Industry Analysis

Is the grocery store industry really changing all that much?

At the beginning of 2016, the industry buzz was about shifting industry trends toward online grocery shopping and increasing competition from discounters. The whole industry was responding to a massive and elemental change in how people shopped for their food. The prediction was that online shopping would increase from 5% to 9% by 2021. Research into the data indicates that these are still huge factors in the grocery industry’s performance.

As for the competitive price wars at discount stores, Aldi and Lidl had been growing quickly in 2015 and the anticipation at the beginning of 2016 was that the grocery market would settle down and the Big 4 would continue to perform very well.

That was then. What about now?

In February 2017, Euromonitor International reported that the discounters were still the “standout channel in grocery retailers” throughout 2016 with a growth of 11% over the year. This growth was the result of increasing price-sensitivity, expansion of leading discount store networks, and a greater focus on luxury discounting.

Of the Big 4, Tesco remained on top with a value share of 21%. However – and this is a pertinent point – it did drop slightly in overall grocery retailers for the two reasons that the grocery industry is shifting: more people shopping online and increasing competition from the discounters. Sainsbury’s and Asda also lost market share in 2016. Morrisons increased its sales by 1.9%. Discounter Aldi moved into fifth place in the grocery store ranking in 2016.

IGD reported that discount retailers’ sales, with Aldi and Lidl at the helm, continue to grow. In 2016, their sales increased almost 41%; up from an increase of 0.9% in 2015. The discount channel’s share of total UK grocery sales alone was up to 10%, an increase of almost 3 percentage points.

According to IDG, online is the only segment growing more rapidly than the discounters segment. IDG’s prediction is that online shopping will increase 68.3% over the next five-year period.

Retail Economics reported in February 2017 that online grocery sales had risen to 10.4% over the past year. This surpasses the prediction at the beginning of 2016 for online grocery sales for 2021. Kantar Worldpanel reported that worldwide, online grocery sales grew by 15% and now hold 4.4% of the market. Lest you think 4.4% is not much, globally it translates to $48 billion (USD).

Supermarkets and grocery stores seem to remain confident in strategy despite the changes, not just the changes brought about by online shopping and discounters but also the other changes in grocery retail. Other changes include an increasing attraction to convenience stores for top-up grocery shopping coupled with a major shop at a discounter and the success of the government-driven focus on a healthy eating programme (more fruit & veg, less sugar).

In a fast-paced world, supermarkets & grocery stores need speed, which means they need a strong supply chain. Discounter Lidl has an automated picking operation and a case packing system that gets products to the stores and on the shelves quickly. Grocery retailers have been reluctant to turn to technology such as this because of bad experiences in the past. The development of new technology is changing this.

Category management and shopper engagement is one thing. Contending with the big picture is another. I’m Phillip Adcock and I know the big picture. Contact me on 07960 109 876 or email

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Category Development

Category development is an art as much as a science. Before explaining this, let me talk about the Category Development Index (CDI). This is the measurement of how well a category measures against its competition. There is a formula for this. It is quite simple. It is the category at retailer divided by the category in market multiplied by 100.

If the CDI is less than 100, the brand is considered underdeveloped and if it is over 100, it is overdeveloped. There is the attendant pressure to achieve a CDI of 100 and focus on developing the underdeveloped category and stepping back on the overdeveloped category.

Before you decide that hitting the perfect 100 score on a CDI should be your goal, bear in mind that there are other factors that come into play. You are looking at one category. Chances are good that you have more than one category in your retail market. If you shift your focus to ‘normalising’ the CDI in one specific category, what about the other categories in your store?

If you could manage to be even across all indices, would that make your retailing experience perfect. Not necessarily. It would mean that your store is aiming at the average market consumer. In addition, it means that you are aiming at the average brand in that category.

It is a complicated interplay between the average consumer, which in reality, may not even exist, and the average brand which may not remain static for long. Success can come from focusing on a niche rather than hitting a perfect 100 in the CDI for any brand or segment.

Your management strategies might be better served by studying new product development and planning more sales per annum, rather than category management analysis. Category strategy & development are, as I mentioned above, both art and science. There are huge opportunities to be derived from the insights that category analysis can offer. However, to fully identify the trends, measure the influence, and develop an action plan, you need the proper training in interpreting the factors involved in assessing a category’s position in the overall marketplace.

What is the retailer trying to accomplish in this category? What is the retailer’s strategy? Based on a specific target consumer and goals for the category, retailers need to focus on what the plan is, or should be, for each brand and each category.

In a category, a private label brand and a premium brand hold different positions. Should the retailer treat both the same, attempting to achieve a CDI of 100 or should the retailer look at the premium brand and focus on the best way to feature it and come up with a different strategy for the private label brand. The price point and the market for each is different. One may need more shelf space and the other may need more display.

I’m Phillip Adcock, a leading authority on shopper marketing. If you need advice on strategising your category development, contact me on: 07960 109 876 or Email:

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Retail Shopper Behaviour: An Evolutionary Explanation [Infographic]

As evolved as we are, human beings are still motivated by antiquated forces. Our survival instincts, including the desire to eat, reproduce and be safe, can all affect our shopping habits. SBXL looks at how insights into our lizard brain — the part responsible for the most basic survival instincts — can help to explain retail shopper behaviour.



Our most basic human instinct is to survive. Although the modern world is far safer than the one our ancestors evolved in, we’re still just about as paranoid and fearful as they were. Even our weekly grocery shop is shaped by our desire for self-preservation.

  • Consume High-Calorie Foods

Within the need to survive is the desire to drink, eat and breathe. In prehistoric times, our ancestors would opt for high-calorie foods as a survival mechanism, because food was often scarce. Consuming extra calories to prepare for times of hardship has spilt over into the present day. However, as most of us have easy access to food, this can be dangerous for the waistline.

In terms of retail shopper behaviour, this translates to favouring high-fat, calorie-dense foods. If you find yourself craving red meat and processed foods, you can thank your ancestors for that.

  • Avoid Harm

As humans, we want to ensure that we and our families are safe from harm, and this extends to what we eat. Own-brand goods with less attractive packaging can set off our internal triggers.

One study found that 73% of interviewed consumers said they rely on packaging to assist with their shopping decisions, which shows the importance of label design. Our minds tell us that lower quality packaging could indicate a poor-quality product. The desire to buy branded products, therefore, is based on the belief that the branding is representative of a decent quality product.


Once survival is guaranteed, our next instinct is to pass on our genetic material. Of course, not everyone feels this urge strongly, but it’s a good starting point for explaining certain aspects of retail shopper behaviour.

  • Attract Mates

It’s a stripped-back theory of attraction, but our longing to attract potential mates can lead us to make certain purchasing decisions. Health and beauty products target our desire to increase physical attractiveness, which has been seen to relate to social status, self-esteem and positive feedback from others.

Products such as facial scrubs and tooth-whitening toothpaste sell us the idea that we could be more attractive with said products, and therefore more appealing to others. Branding that displays ‘beautiful’ individuals prompts a longing within us to achieve that status.

  • Protect Ourselves and Our Family

Our desire to protect extends beyond our preference for quality packaging. Retail shopper behaviour is shaped by our own code of ethics and morals. For example, buying ethically sourced fruit or sustainable toilet paper displays our instinct to protect our wider environment.

Most of the consumers who buy ethical products are middle-aged — the age group most likely to have young children of their own. While disposable income is also higher in this group, the theory of evolutionary protection is a potential contributing factor.


To increase our chances of appearing attractive to mates, there are a number of things we humans are wired to do. Our desire to acquire social status, as well as our need to develop in an ever-changing world, are two things that translate to the contents of our shopping baskets.

  • Acquire Status

Products that are seen as “premium” or “luxury” are attractive for several reasons. Firstly, they take advantage of our tendency to trust higher quality packaging. Secondly, they contribute to our social status and are innately connected to the concept of power.

Studies have suggested that status symbols are such because they remain out of reach to many people. Buying products out of one’s price range can help to forge an image of power and wealth beyond mere social class. Premium goods in the supermarket might, therefore, be alluring for reasons other than perceived quality.

  • Grow, Learn and Develop

In a rapidly changing world, we’re forced to develop or get left behind. Evolution, after all, is the process of changing to adapt to the world that we live in. In shopper behaviour research, this equates to the act of buying something new to us. Shaking up our routine in the form of new purchases encourages personal growth — something that every successful generation of humans has had to embrace. If you find yourself reaching for an exotic new sauce in the supermarket, it could be down to your lizard brain.

Of course, there’s far more to retail shopper behaviour than evolutionary psychology tells us, but it’s a good place to start. Once we understand our primal desires, we can start making more informed decisions in the supermarket.




SBXL understands the nuances of retail shopper behaviour, and knows that there is far more to buying patterns than evolutionary psychology. Phillip Adcock, Managing Director of SBXL, is one of the world’s leading authorities for thought leadership and genuine shopper insight. Browse our wealth of shopper behaviour research and find out how to make your product packaging maximise communication with the average shopper.

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How the Music You Play In-Store Can Affect Retail Shopper Behaviour

Many stores rely on radio stations to provide their in-store atmosphere, while others have a CD on loop. But with shopper behaviour heavily dependent on the store surroundings, is this the best way to provide a shopper soundscape?

We all respond to sound on many levels, with emotional, intellectual and subconscious responses. Is your store taking advantage of this natural reaction?

Your Store Is an Environment Where You Have Complete Control — Make Sure You Are Maximising Your Ability to Change Shopper Behaviour

You know that your shoppers’ behaviour is influenced by all of their senses. Even the colour and size of labels can determine whether your products come across as valuable or not. By tweaking the different sound elements available to you in-store, you can optimise your shop for the people who shop there, encouraging positive shopper behaviour such as adding extra items to their shop. This means you can determine how they feel while shopping, how quickly they shop and how much they spend. We all react to many aspects of sound. As well as an emotional response, we have an intellectual response, responding to tone and pitch as well as the words that are being said.

There are many elements to consider when tweaking your in-store aural atmosphere. As shoppers, we both actively and passively use sound when we shop. We actively listen to products to find out if they are fresh, for example, or made of a cheap material. At the same time, we are passively absorbing the soundscape of the store. This soundscape can often unwittingly influence our customers, with unpleasant sounds such as beeps or Tannoy announcements negatively affecting their moods.

Shopper Demographics Can Make a Big Difference to the Music You Should Use In-Store

If your store is pitched at a specific age range, you may be considering using music aimed at that age range. While that can be attractive for some stores — a store for teenagers, for example, is more likely to achieve positive results with chart hits than with classical music — it can drive shoppers outside of that specific demographic away. Stores for very young children will usually be catering to the parents of the children who won’t want to hear an endless loop of nursery rhymes.

Expensive Music Can Persuade Your Shoppers to Spend More

As well as appealing to specific demographics of shopper, some musical genres can have a particularly positive effect on shopper behaviour when used with specific products. Expensive products such as wine, suits or bridal clothing pair well with classical music. Classical music gives the store a high-class tone and can persuade shoppers to buy more expensive items, and to feel that the items they are buying are worth more.

Faster Music Makes Shoppers Shop More Quickly

Speed is another element that can dramatically change shopper behaviour in store. Shoppers will often move at a speed that can be changed by the music or sounds around them. Have you ever noticed that your speed slows down when you shop in supermarkets? They often play slow music to persuade their shoppers to walk and shop more slowly.

Fast music makes your shoppers move faster, which can have its advantages if you want shoppers to move through your store quickly. It can also have the side effect of making them more impatient, causing them to consider leaving if confronted by long queues.

Slower music allows your shoppers to relax and browse more slowly, allowing them to be tempted by impulse buys and add-on products.

By paying attention not only to what your customers are buying, but what they see and hear during their shop, you can identify issues and optimise your sales conditions, ensuring increased customer satisfaction and more sales.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.

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