What Your Shoppers Behaviour Can Tell You About Your Products

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What Your Shoppers Behaviour Can Tell You About Your Products

A cartoon image of a brain pushing a shopping cart to represent shoppers behaviourIf 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.