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

"As a direct result of the research we changed our packaging and that resulted in a 23% increase in sales."

Head of Merchandising & POP


Are you blind to what shoppers see in store?

Click to Play

Shoppers can't tell you how they behave

Click to Play

Consumer Insight Agency

What is SBXL? It’s a consumer insight agency.

Fine. Great. But what is a consumer insight agency?

It’s a team of professionals with a passion for understanding consumers. These professionals have a burning desire to know what lies beneath the surface of the dynamic tango of shoppers and shopping.

At SBXL, we build strategic consumer insight through creative market research and develop methods of getting closer to consumers so that we can study their behaviour and learn the subconscious motivations behind their purchasing decisions.

At SBXL, we define shopper insights as “any new understanding of shopping behaviour or shopper motivation that can be leveraged for competitive advantage.”

Fine. Great. What does that mean to brands or the retailer?

It means everything. With an understanding of how brand attitudes are fostered in the brains of buyers and how these attitudes affect the shopper’s behaviour, you, the shopkeeper, are able to succeed in-store. With the intelligence derived from our consumer insights, you are able to understand the consumer and put the consumer needs to work in the store.

I’m Phillip Adcock and SBXL (Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd) is my brainchild. For more than three decades, I have combined my expertise in neuroscience, psychology and emotion to help our clients – leading brands and retailers – better understand how to maximise communication with their shoppers.

Part of the knowledge at our consumer insight agency is gained from studying consumer trends. This is how we know that more consumers are going digital and shopping online. This is how we know what impact discount stores have on the retail industry or what advertising works best in 2017.

I can help retailers learn what their target audience responds to. Armed with this knowledge, it becomes possible to start planning the perfect marketing strategy because this insight comes from understanding the consumer at the heart of their success (or lack of) in moving products off the shelf.

Promotional messages have long been a popular method of attempting communication with shoppers. If you think these messages are doing their job, you are sadly mistaken. A recent study revealed that 99% of promotional messages were ignored by shoppers.

How about in-store displays? Are they not working? Do you know why? In case you are wondering if it matters, here’s a bit of knowledge: Effective POP can dramatically increase awareness and sales by as much as 350%.

As a consumer insight agency, SBXL has developed a set of tools that studies and analyses shopping behaviour that goes far beyond what consumers understand about their own specific shopping decisions. Our tools can peek behind the scenes of the consumer’s journey through your store to the decision to purchase.

At SBXL, we have devoted our collective skills to developing and implementing these tools and the results speak for themselves. If you want to know how to tap into the minds of your customers, I am able to help you find the changes that will make a huge difference at the checkout.

I’m one of the world’s leading authorities on shoppers and shopping. Contact me on: 07960 109 876 or Email:

Read more
Cosmetics Market Analysis

At the “Cosmetic Executive Women’s 2016 Trends: New Consumerism Rules” event, it was reported that the traditional demographics — age, income and gender — are no longer effective when it comes to targeting consumers. The new markers are individual needs and values.

As well as the changing demographics, other factors impacting the cosmetics industry were acceleration in lifestyle trends, quest for knowledge, safety and convenience, and the digital upgrading path to purchase.

The CEW event also noted that independent brands are taking share from the major beauty players. This is due to a secular shift in buying patterns and influencers along with a dash of the anti-establishment mindset.

These changes don’t mean that the cosmetics industry is on the wane. According to Allied Market Research, the global cosmetics market is expected to reach $429.8 billion by 2022. This growth is a result of an increase in disposable income, growth in global economies, and changing lifestyles.

In the UK, there was a steady 2% current value growth in 2015 in cosmetics caused by more niche brands, a stronger desire for premium cosmetics, and an increasing trend toward holistic health and wellness, which popularises natural organic products.

Euromonitor International reported that in the premium cosmetics field, there was high growth in colour cosmetics, bath and shower and baby and child-specific products. Concerns about harmful chemicals and parabens increased preferences for natural, high-quality ingredients. The digital influence of bloggers and their ilk also had an impact on premium colour cosmetics.

Women’s Marketing noted that 49% of millennial women prefer natural or organic skin care products and that there is a trend toward products with fewer and more natural ingredients. Women’s Marketing echoed Euromonitor International’s insight into the impact of social media. Branded visual content from digital influencers appealed to 54% of women studied.

The study also revealed that millennial women are more and more interested in unique products and brands. It’s a selfie society and there is a great wish to be unusual, unique, and ahead of the pack.

It is apparent that there is a shift in the cosmetics industry and that marketing methods need to be aware that great changes are needed if they are to remain competitive. There are emerging trends to look out for. Market segmentation has changed. Customers are still spending their money on beauty and personal care products but the type and brand of products they buy are changing. Social media with its Youtube influencers have more impact than ever foreseen. Purity, natural, safe, effective are the buzzwords of the anti-establishment shopper.

In the millennial quest to be unique and special, niche markets are climbing the market share hill to the top. Some things stay the same such as Estée Lauder’s position in the beauty industry. In 2017, Estée Lauder’s share of the global skin care products market is estimated to be 7.57%, remaining fairly consistent over the past five years. Other things are changing. In 2016, Avon’s market share fell. This may be due to the shift from home demonstrations to social media marketing.

I’m Phillip Adcock, one of the world’s leading authorities on shoppers and shopping. If you need advice on how to shift your marketing to meet the new consumer trends in the world of cosmetics, contact me on: 07960 109 876 or Email:

Read more
What Your Shoppers Behaviour Can Tell You About Your Products

If your customers are not buying the products you are expecting them to, you may want to carry out some in-store research to find out why. The answers might surprise you!

With customers, the key to understanding what they are thinking is understanding what they do. Actions speak far louder than words, and carrying out video-based retail shopper behaviour research can tell you more than you’d think. By studying their interactions with your products, you can find out why they make the choices they do.

How Are Your Customers Reacting to Your Products — and What Does it Say About Them?

When encountering the product, do your customers…

  1. Not notice it and walk past?
  2. Look at the product but don’t engage with it?
  3. Engage with the product — picking it up and examining it — but then put it back?
  4. Put the product in their basket and then remove it before the checkout?

By using shopper behaviour research techniques on CCTV footage of your customers, you can find out what your shoppers are thinking, and how best to appeal to them.

Your Customers Ignore the Product and Walk Straight Past

If customers are walking straight past your display, it is likely that either they already have a preferred brand of this product or the entire category doesn’t appeal. To raise the profile of this particular product, you may want to try moving it to an aisle-end gondola to increase customer exposure. If the category is getting high footfall but that particular product is being ignored, compare it with the other products in the category.

Does your product stand out next to the other products? Often a product type will have a recognised colour scheme. For example, products for newborns will often be in white, or light pastel blues and pinks. Although using a different colour to the rest of the category will make your product stand out from the rest, it may not be beneficial to stray too far from the recognised scheme. Hot pink or electric blue baby products may stand out, but they probably won’t fit with the consumer’s idea of what products in that category should look like.

Your Customers Look at the Product but Walk Away Without Picking It Up

Retail shopper behavior can tell you if your product is uninteresting or doesn’t draw the eye. If customers are looking at your product but failing to engage with it, the product has failed to interest them enough. This could be because the product is in the same packaging as it has always been. If a customer has seen that same packet every time they shop that category, there is nothing to create new interest.

This can be changed, however, with the addition of shelf-ready packaging. These are cardboard containers that products are shipped in that are specially designed to act as display packaging when put on the shelf. These cover enough of the product to change the look of the packaging, prompting customers to examine the packet again.

If they look at your product but then instinctively reach for another, they may have a preferred brand in that category. Around 50% of a shopping trolley or basket consists of “grab-and-go items — items which the shopper buys on auto-pilot every time they shop.

Your Customers Physically Engage with the Product, Then Put It Back

If your customers are picking up the product, examining it and then putting it back, they have found a problem with the packet or the product. Usually, picking the product up is the halfway point to having it in the basket. Besides physical defects in packaging (caused by inadequate packaging materials or damage in transit) the shopper may be part of a category that needs to examine the products they buy more closely, such as a vegetarian or someone with allergies. Products may contain animal products or nuts and other allergens, and therefore need to be examined closely.

Shoppers may also be put off by other elements of the packaging, such as spelling mistakes or printing errors. Issues such as these make a product seem of a lower quality or even potentially defective.

Customers Put Products Back or Abandon Them After Putting Them into Their Basket

Customers abandoning products after putting them in their basket is a twofold problem. As well as reduced sales for that product, it can lead to product wastage, especially if it is a product that needs to be kept cool.

When tackling this issue, you should consider both the product type and where they abandon it — and whether they replace it with something else. Many products are abandoned if a cheaper alternative is found. This is especially evident within the frozen section of many stores. Fresh vegetables and even meat are left on top of the flat freezers, replaced in the basket by frozen versions of these products.

Little can be done about shoppers acting in this way, although if it is causing a major wastage issue it may be worth adding redirection signage, such as “Looking for frozen peppers? You can find us in the freezer aisle!” This lets shoppers know that the product is present in the frozen aisle, so they don’t pick up a potential replacement in case it is missing.

Treat products are often added to the basket and then abandoned later as the shopper thinks about their purchase. Perhaps it was an impulse purchase and they are on a diet or a product they aren’t sure about. This can be reduced by keeping treat products close to the tills. This means they are added almost as the shopper is out of the door, giving them a shorter period to second-guess their purchase.

By carrying out careful shopper behaviour research, you can determine why shoppers are favouring some products over others, and — more usefully — how to persuade them to try new products.

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.

Read more
Why the Right Packaging Is Crucial to Attracting Customer Attention

The best way to appeal to customers in-store is to draw their eye. Getting customers to notice your product is the first step to getting it into their basket. With shopper behaviour research, you can find out how your shoppers really feel about your packaging.

Your shoppers use all of their senses when they shop in-store, but the experience is heavily weighted towards the eyes. So how can you ensure that your packaging appeals to them?

It is often hard to change retail shopper behaviour, with customers mainly buying products that they have bought before. It is key to attract customers who are new to the category. For example, if a customer has recently dyed their hair, they may well be on the lookout for a different shampoo. If they are seeking out a new product, it is usually packaging that will help them to make the decision.

What Elements Are Important When Designing Packaging?

Customers are drawn towards better packaging. It gives the product the impression of being higher quality than other products. This is why customers tend to pick mid-range store-brand products over value-range store-brand products, even if the two have similar contents. The right packaging can increase customer sales but the wrong packaging can decrease them. By employing shopper research techniques before releasing your new packaging, you can increase your chance of success.

If you have an established brand and are looking to redesign your packaging, you should first discover what elements customers use to identify your product. If customers know that your product is in a triangular blue box with a silver logo, retaining some of these visual elements will stop customers from struggling to find your product. They will be more likely to recognise a box in the same shape and size and with the same logo but in different colours, than one that is entirely different. Logos are crucial for customer recognition, which is why when logos change, they tend to evolve gradually over the years.

Materials Are Important — and Can Win or Lose a Sale

The materials you use to package your product can be key in whether a customer makes a purchase or gives it a wide berth.

Firstly, are the materials you are using appropriate to the packaging? While novel packaging can have its uses, they can quickly wear thin if the shape doesn’t contribute to the function. If a product is packaged in materials that don’t seem appropriate to the product type, shoppers may avoid the product.

Also, what quality does the packaging need to be? As well as being attractive, it needs to withstand being transported to the store, stocked, handled by shoppers and transported home. A product that is easily damaged at any of these stages has a decreased likelihood of being bought, especially if one damaged product has the ability to affect others. Shoppers are unlikely to buy a fabric conditioner that is covered in fabric conditioner residue, even if the bottle they are considering is intact.

How Colouring Can Affect Your Packaging

It’s well known that colours affect our decisions. People are advised to avoid using red in the bedroom to promote peaceful sleep and use blues and greens for creative spaces. But how does this translate to packaging?

Many brands rely on a specific colour which is recognisable outside of the retail environment, such as the specific dark purple (Pantone 2685C) that consumers associate with Cadbury’s. Cadbury’s are currently fighting Nestle over the exclusive rights to that colour for that exact reason.

The colouring you use should relate both to your logo and the impression that you want to give of your brand. To get an idea of which colours are already present in the field, you can carry out in-store research, examining the colour schemes of your competitors. You can either choose to match these colours, reflecting them in your product design, or contrast with them. You also need to be aware of the cultural implications of some colours if you are intending to supply internationally. Red, for example, represents prosperity in China, but danger in the Middle East.

The more colours you use on your packaging, the less serious or basic the product. There is an elegance inherent in two-toned design, but it may not be appropriate in all circumstances. For example, parents don’t tend to look for elegance in the packaging of their children’s toys.

Different colours have different implications. The difference between using a white background and a black background is vast. A white background is more basic and safe, whereas black displays power and authority.

Different shades have different implications. Green, for example, is seen as an eco-colour but can also represent wealth. Blue is a colour for trust, whereas red is exciting — but also signifies good value.

Utilising Shelf-Ready Packaging to Increase Customer Interest in Your Product

If you want to increase customer interest in your product, there are many different elements to consider. The first thing you should think about is the outer packaging.

Your products reach the supermarket shelf in two layers of packaging: the product packaging itself and the shelf-ready packaging, which is a tray or box in which the product has been shipped. Shelf-ready packaging usually has perforations, meaning they can be transformed into a simple display stand. These stands change the look of a product, which can prompt a customer to engage with it, picking it up to examine it properly. A product that is in the consumer’s’ hand is already halfway to the basket.

Shelf-ready packaging appeals to supermarkets as it makes shelf stocking quicker and easier. It also allows you to dictate the manner in which your product is shown on the shelf.

Getting Packaging Quantity Right

Shoppers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, and with that comes a disdain for unnecessary over-packaging. If, for example, your fruit comes in a tray which is in a plastic box with a cardboard insert and a plastic wrapper, shoppers are less likely to find that acceptable. With the rise of packaging-free supermarkets, consumers are signalling that they want less packaging, not more.

On the other hand, you also need to make sure that your packaging is sufficient. While oranges can be sold unpackaged, the same is not true for cereal or laundry powder. Using materials that are too thin to package your product leads to easy breakage in transit before and after sales, meaning that customers will be lead to think that your product is cheaply produced and low quality.

If you’re thinking of making a change to the colour, size or material of your packaging or display, you should consider the impact that this will have on the shopper. Focus groups cannot be relied on to give the same views as genuine customers. This is where in-store shopper research techniques can help. For example, a cosmetics display may score highly with focus groups who have both hands free, but be unusable for shoppers who are laden with bags and baskets. By trialling new packaging and display techniques on real shoppers, you can find out what they really think of your new developments.

Optimising your packaging? Give SBXL a call. 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.

Read more
Latest Tweets

Tune in tonight, 8pm to see our Managing Director Phillip Adcock reveal Airport secrets!

Read More

Pancake day's tomorrow! That sure crêped up on us!

Read More
To Top