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Is In-Store Shopper Experience Delivering Your Brand’s Promise?

Many retailer ads are great at conveying what their brand is about and setting consumer expectations. But oftentimes, this doesn’t carry over to the actual shopper experience.  All that investment on a great ad with beautiful visuals– and the best mix of media spend– doesn’t always play out as shoppers hope, in-store.

Here’s some examples of ads I’ve seen recently that sparked my interest to investigate the in-store experience.   I went searching for the same excitement, sentiment and most of all, consistent brand promise that I’d seen on TV.

Here’s what I found…

Retailer Example #1: Target 

I recall first seeing this ad earlier this year, during award shows.  I anxiously awaited the release of the Prabal Gurung collection at Target stores in early February.  Given the high fashion designer name, I decided to seek it out at Chicago’s City Target on State Street (I previously mentioned that City Target here).

Wow… what a let down from Target on this one.  Here’s what I saw when I finally found the the Prabal Gurung section…

Prabal Gurung at Chicago City Target

I was disappointed by the lack of in-store promotion around the clothing.  It was mixed in with everything else and unless I looked closely, I would not have noticed that it was the Prabal Gurung collection.  It did NOT make me feel…Chic, Stylish, Romantic, or Breathtaking.  Just underwhelmed.

More importantly, I was not very inclined to buy since it did not seem…well, for lack of a better word…special (like in the TV ad).

…unlike the spectacular celebrity-infused New York launch party – which is what I was hoping to get a hint of at my City Target…

NYC Prabal Gurung Launch Party

Target really missed the opportunity to infuse some of the launch party ideas, in-store.  I realize that it can be investment, but if you live outside of NYC, it was difficult to find and/or distinguish this line from other clothing in the store.

Yet Target does a great job of delivering the experience of “Spring is near” — I’m hopeful as I write this post, ice pellets hitting my window in Chicago — with this fun, lighthearted TV ad…

Spring is definitely all over Target now, especially since Valentine’s Day is over and Easter comes early this year (March 31).  Target knows how to hit us at the right time to begin to think of the next season.

Target - Spring

Retailer Example #2: Crate & Barrel 

This ad from Crate & Barrel first aired in early Fall 2012. — and every season/holiday it’s reprised to touch upon current gathering moments and emotions.  This ad — with the renowned Crate & Barrel Helvetica font and a catchy song — makes you want to invite friends over for dinner and toast up S’mores in the fireplace.

And when I went into Crate & Barrel’s retail space, with this party in mind, I immediately saw interesting place settings, cocktail glassware, and other items for hosting a fun get-together.

C&B gets my gold star of approval for carrying their advertising message into the store; effectively providing a consistent shopper experience.

Crate & Barrel Chicago

The bottom line is…don’t be confusing…be CONSISTENT.  Make sure your brand message translates seamlessly across customer touch points — in-store and out. Today’s busy shopper expects a hassle-free experience — they don’t want to think too much or search too far for their desired merchandise.  Make it easy for them and set yourself apart from your competitors.

Can you think of retailers that do (or don’t do) a stellar job of translating their message to the in-store experience?  I’d love to hear from you.


Engage In-Store: Creative Ways to Build Shopper Loyalty Through Mobile Devices


According to PEW Research, in Fall 2012, nearly half of US adults owned a smartphone or tablet. The latest from eMarketer indicates that the number of mobile shoppers continues to rise.   It’s no wonder that images like this will soon become more commonplace in the retail environment.

In fact, I took this photo with my smartphone, last Sunday, at my local grocery store.  This cart belonged to a 30-something male who was using his Ipad to help him shop.

I used this opportunity to strike up a conversation with him (i.e. do a bit of impromptu shopper research)

Me:  “How long have you been doing this type of shopping with your iPad?”

Shopper:  “At least 2-3 months.  It helps me keep track of purchases I make and items I run out of during the week.  I also use it to plan my weekly meals.”

Me:  “Do you use coupons?”

Shopper:  “I honestly don’t have time to keep track of and clip coupons.  I’ve tried it in the past but it’s too much work.”

Me:  “Is your iPad connected to the wireless network here in the store?”

Shopper:  “No.  I actually subscribed to my own connection, since WiFi isn’t available everywhere I need it.”

This encounter lead me to wonder…how can grocery retailers use this opportunity to increase customer loyalty and engagement?

Why not offer free WiFi to customers… and take it a step further?
Once you’ve captured their email address (via opt-in), get interactive through their mobile device by…

    • Issuing automatic coupons
    • Offering additional sales items (not available to the general public)
    • Sharing ideas for meals and recipes using in-store products
    • Integrating a reward point program (if not already in play) that encourages them to return and shop your store again
    • Creating an app that helps them in and out of the store (whether it’s with in-season shopping lists, organizing coupons, menu planning, etc.)  

I know it sounds a little “Jetsons”-like but that’s what shoppers yearn for…more inspiration while grocery shopping.

And considering that today’s shoppers are usually pressed for time, offer them handy shortcuts and create the innovation they need, in-store, using the tools they already carry with them.

Or, what about those visiting a favorite QSR?  While dining tends to be a social experience, I can’t help but notice the number of people that go to a QSR alone and use their tablet or smartphone as their companion.Attractive Cheerful Asian Indian woman Sending Reading SMS at Ca

They’ve just ordered food and are physically in your location.  You’ve got their attention.  So why not use this time to offer them an improved overall restaurant experience?

Many of the large QSR chains already offer free WiFi, but what are they doing to further engage these customers?  Some ideas…

  • Unique podcasts/ programming that’s available when dining-in
  • Access to exclusive targeted coupons
  • Loyalty card already built into an app 

As mobile devices continue to become more and more mainstream, simply offering a WiFi connection is not enough to create a relationship with your consumers.

Companies need to reach further, utilize this valuable means of access to buyers… and create a true consumer connection.  One that gets them excited about visiting your location and gives them a reason to come back more often.

Why Males Are Key to Your Shopper Programs

This past weekend I was at Costco on a busy Saturday morning (I know. Crazy. What was I thinking?) But in the hustle and bustle of getting everything on my list and zipping past others, I witnessed an interesting shopping behavior of a father (roughly mid-40s) and his son (about 6-7 years old).

I had seen them initially, as I approached the refrigerated section.  Ten minutes later, I returned to that section to grab a forgotten item.  Only to find them still there.  They were clearly going down every aisle.  Mind you, I know men love Costco.  But, going down every aisle?  Wow, that’s a manufacturers’ and retailers’ dream!

Regardless of gender, some of us find shopping fun and others find it a chore.  Retailers and manufacturers alike know this and have put forth programs to capitalize on these mindsets.  But often their research is focused solely on the primary household shopper which tends to be female.

With this approach, you may be missing out on key shopper insights from another demographic that spends a lot of time in your store. In other words, what about male shoppers? 

Recently, our Erickson Research team was working on an initiative for an apparel company.  We spoke to men, in detail, about their approach to clothes shopping.

As I listened to these men of various ages speak about their habits, it became clear to me, they are savvy shoppers when it comes to their clothing and style.  They want quality at a good price.

Sound familiar CPGs, mass and grocery retailers?

We have seen how successful tech, alcohol, apparel, and sporting goods categories are at catering to men.  Yet CPG and grocery retailers still struggle to engage the primary male shopper.

In the past few months, I’ve encountered several sources indicating that Dads, specifically, are handling grocery shopping duties these days.  And often they shop differently than their counterparts.  They tend to …

  • walk down every aislegreat news for the center of the store since it tends to be least visited
  • be influenced by in-store promotions  –  likelihood of increased basket size due to “impulse/unplanned” purchases
  • gather info from traditional media, television and printreminding us not to forget to cater to male emotions in these mediums

Keeping these things in mind, what are you doing to engage men as they shop?

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