Is it better to understand the shopper journey in the moment?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
Unilever believes that understanding the shopper’s path to journey requires a shift from traditional recall studies to research "in-the-moment," said Aske van der Werff, the company’s global shopper insights director.
When they are queried after the purchase, she says the results are likely to be flawed or wrong. When asked "why" they made a selection, "they post-rationalize. They don’t know or can’t articulate. They are just human beings."
Using shopper intercepts and mobile technology at the time of purchase yields more accurate results.
"Recall research has its purpose, but if you really want to dig into what happens in a certain moment, it’s flawed at best. It can give you generalizations in recall, and that can be very helpful," Ms. Van der Werff said, but may not reveal what they were actually thinking. For example, when a recall survey asked about a beer purchase, shoppers mentioned an average of 3.8 influences per respondent, such as price, a special offer, a well-known brand or friends.
"This shows that people post-rationalize afterward and add many more elements than what actually happened because human beings like to build a larger story," she said. "They want to please the interviewer, or they can’t articulate the influences."
Ms. Van der Werff recently spoke at the Shopper Insights in Action Conference in Chicago in a session titled, "What Shoppers Can’t Tell You: The Role of ‘In the Moment’ Research and the Implications for Shopper Marketing."
Using mobile technology to ask the same question "in the moment," shoppers mentioned 1.4 influences per respondent with "well-known brand" cited most often. "The price and special offers are much less influential in reality than a big brand name. Awareness and reminders are much more effective than the results from the recall research indicate. This is one example why in the moment research can give you massively different answers," she explained.
She listed three principles that must be considered to understand shopper journeys:
- "First you have to be in the moment—not too far away from the actual occasion to prevent post-rationalization and stories that just aren’t the real deal."
- People have a better and a more accurate memory for what they did rather than why they did it. "So focus on the ‘what’, not on the ‘why’"
- "Then use modeling to understand some of the whys by looking at the sequence of whats, and what interactions led to a purchase, or a change in the purchase."
Are brands and stores too reliant on traditional recall surveys in determining path to purchase? Are mobile technology and shopper intercepts a feasible alternative? What’s your ideal technique?