Nielsen deconstructs shopping decisions in store

October 18, 2008 by Dave Haynes

Like a lot of people in this space, I bang away at customers and partners about the need to get out of the mindset that the technology is what makes or breaks ad and marketing networks.
It doesn’t matter how slick the screens are or smooth the media playback, if the content and strategy are wrong.
One of the big challenges is trying to get a grip on what’s happening in the stores, in the heads of shoppers, and consumer researchers continue to poke, prod and shadow consumers in an endless quest to profile bahvior patterns and mindsets.
The latest is a study from The Nielsen Company that deconstructs the “shopper decision process.”

As reported in Marketing Daily:
The Nielsen Shopper Modality Study, conducted by the Consumer Research division within Nielsen’s proprietary Shopper3 (Shopper Cubed) Insights framework, combines primary survey data with Nielsen scan data. The method provides an integrated picture of the dynamics of a category with a “holistic deconstruction” of the shopper decision process that includes shopper habits and predispositions, channel choice and in-store behavior.

CPG marketers “don’t want to get it wrong in the fleeting nano-second of purchase decision,” said David Parma, global head of Nielsen Consumer Research. “Marketers need to know what buttons to press to influence their shoppers and win on the ultimate marketing battleground–the store aisle.”

Here’s a summary of the five CPG mindsets and how marketers can best exploit these. The insights apply across all retail channels where CPG’s are sold, including grocery, drug stores, convenience stores, mass merchandisers and club stores.

* Indifferent auto-pilot and blinkered auto-pilot mindsets. When it comes to products like bathroom cleaners, bar soaps, dishwashing soap and cotton swabs, consumers’ pilot buttons are set to “indifferent.” Rather than spend time on decisions, they automatically reach for the brands they usually buy, generally without comparing prices. Since there’s low brand-attachment, consumers have no problem switching if their usual brands aren’t available.

To avoid such switches, marketers of leading brands in these CPG categories need to ensure against out-of-stocks or visibility and distribution issues, says Nielsen.

With other habitual-purchase items like baby diapers and feminine care products, consumers’ mindsets are set to “blinkered” auto pilot, meaning that they won’t readily settle for an alternative.

Leading brands within these categories should avoid radical packaging changes or repositioning that could upset the status quo. Given consumer involvement in these categories, new brands need to offer breakthrough innovation to succeed.

The overall key to influencing consumers on auto pilot lies in knowing when and how that mindset can be disrupted by external stimuli, so that they are ready to consider alternatives and new offers. Nielsen terms these brief windows of marketing opportunity “Delta Moments.”

* Browser mindset. Consumers are more engaged with products such as shampoo and conditioner, body washes, and toothpaste and brushes–they check out labels and packaging, sniff and test these, reports Nielsen. This means that marketers need to provide a wide product assortment and realize that packaging innovations can be persuasive in decisions.

* Buzz mindset. Hand and body lotions, air fresheners and baby toiletries are among the product categories that are “buzz-activated.” Shoppers actively seek out information about these.

Constant innovation in packaging and new product attributes–introduction of attention-grabbers such as “age-defying,” “shimmering,” tanning and aromatherapy, for example–combined with exciting advertising and new product introductions, are the keys for these categories.

* Bargain-activated mindset. Unless there’s hot news about some brand, shoppers tend to switch brands on toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper towels, facial tissues, liquid hand soaps and batteries based on which are on sale or appear to be bargains.

Bottom line: It’s difficult for marketers to influence shopper’s purchasing decisions in these categories on a sustainable basis, Nielsen concludes.  
Arguably, the effort to influence those shoppers gets much LESS difficult when digital screens at or very near the brands are in play, and depending on the dynamic, service things like a need for more information through interactivity, or can respond to prices pressures through networked changes.

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