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Why You Should Stop Analysing Customers Who Already Buy Your Products

17 August, 2017 Leave a comment

Almost all shopper research focuses on people already shopping in a brand category. Let shopper research experts SBXL tell you why it shouldn’t.

We all know that the best shopper research takes place in-store, at the shelves, where the purchasing decisions are made. However, too many researchers focus only on the behaviour of existing category shoppers – those already buying their product.

If you really want to grow your market share – you need to focus on people who don’t buy your product, people who might not even be in the aisle! It’s these shoppers that you really need to convince.

Take chocolate and confectionary for example. According to our studies a typical supermarket welcomes 1,000 shoppers per hour. Of this number, 50 people visit the confectionary aisle, of which only 70% of them buy something – this means that only 35 people out of 1,000 will buy something from the confectionary aisle per hour.

Typical shopper research is conducted in one aisle – analysing just 5% of a store’s footfall. The real kicker is that those being researched are buying confectionary anyway! Too many brands are spending large sums of money to research those already buying from their category – rather than growing their shopper base.

Have you ever sat and thought about why people don’t buy your product? Rather than why they do?

A lot of non-customers are just customers-in-waiting and so there’s always a way to grab more people’s attention and gain their business – whether that’s through increasing your products visibility or by making changes to the product itself; introducing different sizes and types to fit holes in the market.

There’s More than One Way to Place a Product

A great way to increase product visibility is by identifying the needs that your product meets. Then you can identify which other categories meet those same needs and display them nearby. Going back to chocolates, they could be paired with Flowers, Alcohol, Films, Health & Beauty, to name but a few.

Displaying a box of chocolates nearby any of these categories will more directly link them with other needs that consumers are looking to meet. With boxes of chocolates being hidden away with the Wine Gums and Popcorn, shoppers may not make the connection between buying a gift and a box of chocolates for example – they will however think of a bunch of flowers; especially as the flowers display is one of the first things you see in modern supermarkets. Displaying chocolates near the flower display creates that link for the shopper while also increasing product visibility – creating purchasing opportunities outside of the single confectionary category.

This issue isn’t unique to confectionary. There are many products that meet the same needs that are often displayed nowhere near each other, for example:

Shopper need: Energy

Potential solutions: Banana, Coffee, Energy Drink, Cereal Bar, etc.

Shopper need: Healthy Foods

Potential solutions: Vegetables, Whole Foods, Multi-Grain Cereal, Health Snacks, etc.

These sorts of insights can’t be learned from just staying within your own product category – shoppers don’t shop in just one aisle! You could spend your shopper research budget analysing existing category shoppers – searching for insights from existing customers only. Or you could link your brand to an occasion or need and the product will sell itself!

Shopper research agencies like SBXL can also provide much wider, multi-category competitive set insights, helping you deliver significantly more growth by increasing not just loyalty, but category penetration too.

How to Join the Dots of Multi-Channel Shopping

10 August, 2017 Leave a comment

It’s accepted common knowledge that the internet has had a negative impact on the performance of brick and mortar stores. A new report from the University of Southampton, however, claims that this doesn’t need to be the case. The two shopping formats can co-exist, but they currently aren’t.

The report explains that the advantages of online shopping have changed what shoppers want from brick and mortar stores – it’s now more about the shopping experience than the simple need to shop. It goes on to say that such stores need to invest in an enhanced shopping experience to survive.

The report also details the rise of the convenience culture. It states that: “An evolving ‘convenience culture’ in combination with increasing levels of internet retail are together creating structural changes in the way people shop”

On the subject of Multi-channel shopping, the report reveals that, some retailers are finding it hard to keep up with this modern behaviour but that this does not suggest the ‘death of physical space’. Rather, it points towards the need for significant changes in the way physical stores operate.

“In the light of new technology trends, retailers should focus on people and not on devices. It’s about using technology to return to understanding the consumer and offering personalised service.”

It goes on to say: “Forecasts for 2019 suggest that the convenience store grocery sector will account for almost a quarter of total UK grocery sales; conversely, the once dominant ‘superstores & hypermarkets’ sector market share is set to collapse.”

The report concludes by saying that the “experiential” side of shopping heightens enjoyment and increases the amount of time and money spent in a store.

In summary, online and bricks and mortar channels are NOT the same and shouldn’t be treated as such. What’s more, the Internet supports rather than replaces bricks and mortar retail with online by providing shoppers with a more convenient means of buying the same thing again. Whereas bricks and mortar is better suited to introducing shoppers to new brands and products by way of a physical shopping ‘experience’.

The data behind the report suggests that multi-channel retail is currently far from ideal and is failing to protect physical retail outlets. It appears that too many decision makers are attempting to force this rapidly evolving shopping behaviour into their existing strategies. Instead, they should be focusing on creating a new, multi-channel shopper oriented business model.

Our ongoing study of the similarities and differences between online and traditional bricks and mortar shopping is also very revealing. It has shed new light onto the facts and fiction relating to this modern retail phenomenon of multi-channel. One thing we have discovered for sure, is that when it comes identifying today’s shopper needs, it’s no good regurgitating yesterday’s shopper research.

To find out more about multi-channel shopping and how bricks and mortar stores can co-exist, talk to our experts on 01543 255 259 or email

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

3 August, 2017 Leave a comment

what's love got to do with it

We all know the aim is to get more shoppers buying, but we can’t afford to ignore the challenges faced in getting them to buy again, and again.

Browse, Buy, Repeat

Shopper loyalty is hard to come by in this modern society, with so many brands fighting for shoppers’ attention, loyalty is often forced to take a back seat. Products with similar features, pricing and packaging are all thrown at shoppers who on average see two offers every second.

Emotions and rationality are important factors in the shoppers decision to purchase, the weighing of each however, varies considerably on the circumstances. A shopper may choose a certain brand because they don’t have a choice but a sale’s a sale, right? In fact, in this situation the lack of an emotional connection means there is no loyalty for the shopper to come back for more, meaning the sale could easily go to another brand next time. All the shopper had to go on was reason, the features and functionality, but without emotion, indecision is imminent and a gamble for your brand.

Undoubtedly building a relationship with customers is key to loyalty, and loyalty is linked to trust. It’s safe to say there is always an element of trust in any transaction, customer loyalty however requires a little more. We associate with brands emotionally, at a subconscious level, making sure this connection is strong should be a goal of every brand. Why? According to Gallob consumers with an emotional connection to a brand spend 46% more on that brand, compared to those they have no emotional attachment to.

Need More Convincing?

It may sound strange but the less consumers think about purchasing, the better for that brand, as long as you’ve established that customer loyalty. We all have specific products we regularly buy, almost unconsciously, price doesn’t matter and we won’t settle for anything else. Simply put, emotional loyalty can be one of the biggest barriers against competitors.

Emotional loyalty offers more though, the best examples are when a customers loyalty turns them in to ambassadors of sorts for the brand. They become a walking, talking, free advertisement for your brand.

What are your thoughts? Any studies to share with us? We’d love to have a conversation – in the comments, by tweet or email us at

As Shrinkflation Soars Is Shopper Loyalty Lost?

26 July, 2017 Leave a comment

Think that your chocolates are looking smaller? That's shrinkflation at work. Learn more about this concept that's causing outrage among many with SBXL.

Shrinkflation, a concept that’s been all over the news and causing outrage among many, is not a particularly new concept. Receiving its name from the fact that while the product sizes are shrinking, prices aren’t. Up until now, no solid data had been provided and while we knew it was happening the extent of shrinkflation may still come as a surprise. According to The Office of National Statistics (ONS) as many as 2,529 products have shrunk in size over the past five years but are still sold at the same price.

Although certain categories have certainly been hit harder, confectionary for example, products from toilet rolls to fruit juice have been impacted by shrinkification. The most memorable and most used example may be when Toblerone, owned by Mondelez, spaced out its triangles and reduced the weight by roughly 10%. Although there has been some speculation as to the accuracy of the claims, expensive imports such as cocoa have been held responsible.

Think that your chocolates are looking smaller? That's shrinkflation at work. Learn more about this concept that's causing outrage among many with SBXL.

Two options… Shrink the product or increase the price

Economists often assume shoppers make decisions rationally, that price is the most important aspect in decision making. The idea that people focus on and use one prominent measure, such as price, as representation of the whole product is known as representative bias. While it’s true people can be rational, in the real-world shoppers are emotional and pay less attention to price than often assumed.

The most important aspect?


If brands have done their job right and created trust between themselves and their shoppers, brand loyalty is difficult to break. If price was all that mattered, many brands wouldn’t succeed – with so many offering the same products at different prices. So why do shoppers buy the more expensive options again and again? Because they’ve connected with that brand at an emotional and often subconscious level. Gallob suggests consumers with an emotional connection to a brand spend 46% more on that brand, compared to those they have no emotional attachment to.

That said, wouldn’t it be better to be honest with customers? To tell them there is a price increase and some of that cost will need to be split with them? Putting trust in them to stick with the brands they love?

Instead, shrinkflation leaves customers feeling deceived. While firms may be able to ensure product size doesn’t appear to shrink by much, the recent uproar may have been avoided if the packaging had also changed and brands had announced and explained the alterations.

In the end, the power lies with the shopper, but brands can always help persuade their decision by building a trusted relationship. Done right, shopper loyalty acts as a strong barrier to brand competition and shoppers will in fact pay more.

The Difference Between Shoppers and Buyers

20 July, 2017 Leave a comment

Shoppers and buyers both want the same thing - to buy products, but in a very different way. Learn the difference between shoppers and buyers with SBXL.

Buyers and Shoppers both want to purchase products, but for very different reasons.

Healthy negotiations between retailers and their suppliers are all well and good, but they shouldn’t negatively impact the ability of the retail industry to meet the needs of the millions of shoppers that visit supermarkets every day.

Currently, retailer buyers and the brands that supply them are locked in an ever more artificial war. Stores want to find new revenue streams from the brands while brands are trying to find ways to retain margin from sales.

While this numbers game continues, reality takes a back seat and decimal points are the winning factor. During all this back and forth, one vital aspect in being overlooked – The in-store needs of the customers – those who are responsible for the salaries of supermarket executives, brand account managers and everyone else connected with grocery retail!

Do Modern Supermarkets Work for the Shopper?

Take a look at the typical 21st century supermarket and ask yourself how well they meet the needs of shoppers. Yes, they can be efficient, stock laden warehouses. Yes, they may allow for cost effective seasonal flexing and changes to the layout and yes, they may shout ‘special offer’ from every angle. But are these things what shoppers really want? Are they truly what will drive shopper engagement, loyalty and spend?

Let’s consider the following 3 examples:

Firstly, the typical store has around 50,000 products for shoppers to choose from: do we really need that many? Do shoppers really desire a choice of 300 different cheeses? Do any of us really need a selection of more than 100 coffee products and a further excessive number of different pizzas? Is part of the rise in discounter chains due to the fact that they have a smaller, more mentally manageable range?

Secondly, when shoppers are looking to buy special, luxury items like a bottle of champagne do they want the exact same shopping experience as when buying a bottle of bleach? Of course not! But that’s what they currently get. Should the summer dresses be in the same retail environment as the potatoes? No: But they are!

Finally, what about special offers? Assuming 20% of products are on some form of deal at any point in time then your average shopper has to withstand the onslaught of 10,000 offers. If each shopper spends 40 minutes doing their weekly big shop and passes by just half of the products in-store, then they’ll be exposed to 5,000 offers: That’s more than 2 every second and that’s more than any person can take in!

Modern retailing isn’t a partnership between shopper and retailer, nor is it an agreement between retailer and supplier – it is a 3-way relationship. Retailers need to stop treating their spaces as simply a housing unit for the product brought in by their buyers and begin to focus more on the emotional needs of their shoppers instead.

What’s the Best Kind of Special Offer?

13 July, 2017 Leave a comment

Would it surprise you to hear that there isn’t a ‘best kind’ of offer? It actually doesn’t matter one bit which kind you use! Although supermarkets bombard shoppers with offers and deals, the fact is that they’re often just giving money away!

Why do we say this? It’s due to the nature of the human brain and how the modern shopping experiences interact with it. When shoppers are faced with two different special offers every second in the supermarket, it is impossible for them to calculate the added value of each one. As a result, their subconscious takes over and decisions are made based on emotional ‘best guesses’.

  • For example:Sales of DVDs priced at £4.24 increased when a sign said ‘Two for £10’
  • 45% of shoppers buying from a BOGOF display of tea only bought one
  • Sales of a leading lager, supported by an impactful shelf edge label (SEL), soared by 10 per cent compared with rival brands – the label read: “Thieves will be prosecuted”

The example of the beer is perhaps the most surprising, but it has a simple explanation. When faced with 85 different brands and ranges of lager, the brain automatically tries to slim that number down to a smaller, more manageable quantity by any means necessary. So if products have a unique feature such as a special offer or an eye-catching SEL, the brain will use these distinguishing features to help make a decision.

 The Truth Behind Promotional Offers

The fact is that although shoppers are influenced by product promotions – they don’t take in the details. As a result, the subconscious takes over and shoppers tend to fill their trolleys with items regardless of whether or not they are good value.

At SBXL we send teams of researchers into stores to monitor how real people really shop. We know that the human brain just cannot cope with the number of decisions they have to make in a store. In numerous studies we have carried out, it is clear that the precise nature of a special offer or deal was much less important than how that same offer grabbed the attention of the shopper.

We’ve increased product prices and caused sales to rise. Altering the layout of the SEL has led to significantly more sales with no change in value at all. In some cases, just introducing a promotional colour has resulted in an increase in sales share of more than 30%.

The message to retailers and brands is simple: it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!

To find out about the psychology of special offers, talk to us on 01543 255 259 or email

Packaging Unwrapped – 3 Design Secrets

6 July, 2017 Leave a comment

Learn some of the best-kept secrets of product packaging. Engage with shoppers and boost sales with these psychological tricks of the trade from SBXL.

Product packaging is an often-misunderstood art – it’s not enough for product packaging to look nice (though it’s a bonus if it does). Carefully designed packaging, assessed in isolation by the board of directors, looking at it on a boardroom table, is completely different to immersing it in amongst 50,000 other items on a 21st century supermarket shelf.

The most successful products have packaging that engages with shoppers on a psychological level – but how do you really do that?

Read on to learn three of the best kept secrets of using product packaging to boost shopper engagement.

The Right Hand Rule

90% of people are right-handed. This may sound like a useless little tid-bit but it is far from that. When it comes to packaging, images on a product that are orientated towards the shopper’s dominant hand are more likely to evoke a motor response to pick up that item.

A number of studies have shown that packaging with an image orientated towards the dominant hand of the shopper results in heightened purchase intentions. Conversely, products orientated towards the non-dominant hand can actually lead to decreased purchase intentions and lower sales.

So when you have images of your product on your packaging, make sure they’re orientated for right hand dominant shoppers. Sorry left-handers – it’s just statistics!

Size Matters…

…or at least it does when it comes to your logo or brand name. There’s a generally accepted wisdom in some circles that states that larger logos look tacky and reduce sales – but statistics show that this couldn’t be further from the truth!

Researchers have found that when companies utilise bigger brand logos, not only were they more eye catching as recorded via eye tracking, but study participants also perceived the item more positively.

Not Just a Pretty Face

We’ve already mentioned that it’s not enough for a product’s packaging to be pretty. Shoppers are bombarded with hundreds of products every minute – a products ability to be processed quickly is vital to engage passers-by.

Where you put the main images and words on your packaging significantly impacts how shoppers process your brand. Just like reading a book in the western world, most shoppers will take in a product from left to right. Putting the image on the left and the text on the right increases processing fluency – meaning shoppers will absorb product information more quickly and generate a more favourable impression.

These are three relatively basic examples of how to apply human physiology to packaging design and boost shopper engagement – but there’s much more to learn!

To find out more about the psychology of packaging design, talk to our experts on 01543 255 259 or email

Show Them You Care

16 June, 2017 Leave a comment

With Fathers day just around the corner and stores still full of their themed displays, SBXL investigate seasonal in-store promotions

We’re now halfway into the year, it’s soon to be first day of summer and Father’s Day is just around the corner. With 11 other months just like this one, it’s hard not to go into a shop without seeing competitive displays for whatever upcoming ‘season’ is next. It may be Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day, whichever the forthcoming season there’s no doubt brands start planning promotions early

Is it ever too early?

Seasonal marketing provides retailers with a supply of annual occasions to prepare for, giving an easy hook for promotions which can attract more shoppers and increase sales.

I’m sure many of you noticed the instore displays went up early for Father’s Day this month, while this isn’t unusual, can it ever be too early? Just this year Easter gifts were being sold while Mother’s Day promotions were still in full swing. With retailers really pushing their promotions, displays are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and elaborate as years go by. Some going as far as to take over entire shopping aisles to grab the shopper’s attention.

In 2014 the figures show consumers spent £467 million on Father’s Day gifts, £140 million on Father’s Day food and drink, and £52 million on Father’s Day cards and wrap. With that said, it’s not hard to understand why retailers start planning months in advance to make the most of the annual events.

‘Show dad how much you love him!’

Pictures of happy loved ones celebrating. Inbox’s flooded with promotional email offers, telling you to ‘treat dad to something special this year’. It’s the repetitive advertising we’re all so used to, nevertheless, there’s a reason they’re continually used, they work!

In such a competitive environment, it’s not enough to just promote your products, you need to offer something more. The best campaigns are the ones connect their branded product to shoppers on an emotional level.

Generally, there are 6 recognised emotions, happy, sad, afraid, surprised, angry, and disgusted. Brands use these categories to target shoppers because when we’re emotional, we’re less rational and are much more likely to buy.

But would you be surprised to hear the public are more likely to spend more money on Mother’s Day than Father’s Day?

So do we love our Mothers more, or is there something else at play? Respectively the holidays have a lot in common, both celebrate parents, both always land on a Sunday. So why are Dads short changed? Perhaps Dads just don’t have the emotional significance of Mother’s Day. Let’s think about promotional activity of the separate holidays. Offers of spa treatments, flowers and weekends away are all promoted on the lead to Mother’s Day. Alternately, practical needs such as tools, shirts and sporting goods are always popular come Father’s Day.

So what do you think? Even if it is the thought that counts, why are dads getting short changed? And is it ever too early to see an aisle takeover?

While you can’t measure affection, you can certainly evoke it. With pre-planned, creative marketing, brands have limitless opportunities to emotionally connect with shoppers. Who dares wins!

Masterful Marketing or Misleading the Masses?

6 June, 2017 Leave a comment

SBXL Masterful Marketing or Misleading the Masses?

Colour, shape, size and logo are all features on packaging, an important aspect of a product which undoubtedly influences the shopper’s decision to buy. Red for example, as well as being a “danger” colour, will make things seem more exciting and urgent. In contrast, black tends to give an air of higher value.

While some packaging choices like these may be clearer to understand, the writing on the pack is often overlooked. With the typical Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) in a supermarket having around a 1 in 500 chance of being bought, for today’s brands it’s more important than ever to take advantage of any opportunity to be noticed by shoppers.

Fictitious Farming

Renowned for giving tips and advice on a range of current consumer issues, a Rip Off Britain episode, aired 31/05/17 on BBC1 (available now on BBC iPlayer), discussed the issue of packaging in store. Focusing specifically on the tactics which many shoppers feel are misleading.  Phillip Adcock, Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained made a guest appearance on the popular show, giving his thoughts on the topic.

The debate came after Tesco was criticised for using fake farm names on their packaging. Woodside, Willow and Boswell farms are just three examples of names being used on their meats for sale.

So why is produce farmed in Britain so attractive to shoppers? In the episode, Phillip Adcock suggested shoppers have positive associations with farms, believing them to be both fresher and healthier options than other produce on offer.

Factual Farming

Farmers’ Markets, as the name suggests, give local farmers the chance to sell their produce directly and gives consumers the opportunity to buy farm-fresh, locally grown food. Shoppers know items bought haven’t been sourced far away and travelled hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to be sold. Today, with more people becoming concerned with food sourcing and ‘going green’, these markets are gaining popularity among shoppers.

That said, farmers’ markets also have the reputation of being more expensive., whether they are is another discussion itself, but confirmation bias is a powerful thing. You believe it to be true, you’re told it to be true, thus you continue to assume it’s true. One thing that is undeniably true however, is that farmers’ markets are not the most convenient. They aren’t on practically every road, and are only open certain hours, on certain days.

How does this relate to the issue of misleading packaging in supermarkets?

We know people want to buy locally farmed, fresh produce. We also know shoppers are busy people, likely to have a job, a family and other daily demands. They may not have the time so they most definitely want the convenience. Supermarkets have seen this as an opportunity, offering shoppers the convenience of fresh local produce, at what is assumed to be a cheaper price. Jackpot.

To find out about the tactics that are most likely going to engage your customers, talk to us on 01543 255 259 or email

Why Tony the Tiger really is G-r-r-e-at!

31 May, 2017 Leave a comment

With the typical Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) in a supermarket having around a 1 in 500 chance of being bought, it’s never been harder to grab shopper’s attention than it is today. So here is a small selection of thought starters from SBXL to help you stand out to shoppers in-store and online.

What you want from shoppers is their attention. Evolutionary speaking, our ancestors would need to quickly identify stimuli, to recognise whether they should fight, flight or find a mate. Subconsciously, everything would be classified into one of these three categories. Today, we are not faced with having to go out to hunt for our food, nor do we worry about the likely danger of wild animals. However, the wiring of our brains is still the same even though we live in such a different world.

Essentially, through evolution, we have evolved to use stimuli around us to make decisions. We act in a way to ensure the human race survives on Earth, leading us to our first opportunity to stand out. To capture your shopper’s attention, incorporate stimuli that would have posed an evolutionary threat. This means, next time you see a lion bar, or buy a box of frosted flakes, maybe you’ll consider what evolutionary impact had on your decision.

Another opportunity lies in colour, interestingly, evolution plays a role in this too. For example, shoppers are more likely to notice red stimuli. Why? Because red is the colour of fresh meat and many ripe fruits to name just two. However, a red sticker on a red box won’t amount to much, contrast is key too. If everything is vibrant then nothing is eye catching to shoppers. Before you decide on any colour, study the environment in which they will be used.

Motion is the third chance to stand out and grab attention. As mentioned above, our brains are still wired as they were for our ancestors, meaning we are subconsciously aware of movement that may be a threat. Whether it be a big moving window display, or a swinging sign above you in the aisle, movement captures attention. Shoppers are far more likely to look over if you include this in-store and online.

We have evolved to pay attention to other people, whether we are looking for threats, or trying to find a mate. Shoppers today are subconsciously drawn to people, so you can attract more attention to your products through the simple act of using people. Faces activate specific regions in the brain, and when altered, people detect changes more easily.

In summary, when looking to create eye catching displays that will attract more attention, recognising what we as humans are pre-disposed to is crucial. Evolution is a fundamental factor that should not be ignored.

If you think your products aren’t getting enough attention in-store or online, let’s talk. SBXL specialise in analysing real shoppers, really shopping. If you’d like to find out more contact us on 01543 255 259 or email

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