This week I have had the privilege to chair the ESOMAR Shopping Experience Seminar in Amsterdam. ESOMAR events are always great as the multi-cultural audience always leads to interesting debates and a variety of perspectives – there is always so much to learn from peers who work in different sectors and across different territories. Equally, the chance to see some of the latest tools and techniques demonstrated in the afternoon session provided some great inspiration as to how, as researchers, adapting new tools can help us deliver better insights more efficiently.
Whilst the speakers spanned both agencies, retailers and brand owners, it was clear that, as in so many cases, there is more that unites us than divides us and several common themes emerged. Nowhere was this more true than in the common challenges that were articulated by a number of the speakers.
· Firstly, everyone is looking for growth, and is finding it hard to come by.
· Secondly, the increasing choice is introducing added complexity for brands, retailers and consumers alike.
· Thirdly, the pace of change continues to increase and increase apace. We simply have no option but to adapt.
However, all is not lost it seems! Keith Sleight from Unilever demonstrated that c. 10% of consumers interact with a category but fail to convert. Getting to a better understanding of the context and emotions which underpin this conversion rate continues to be the holy grail.
Throughout the day, three themes kept popping up.
Firstly, the need to break down the silos and get different data sources and parts of the organisation to work more effectively together. Bart Vandenreijt from Carrefour spoke eloquently about the need to put internal culture change at the heart of any data led transformation (an area so often overlooked in all the hype about Big Data technologies) and Lindsay Cowan from NEPA showed the power of combining the what and the why.
Secondly, the inexorable shift from mass marketing to personalisation at scale. Grant Withers highlighted the impact of the Tesco Clubcard launch and Bart’s case study brought that bang up to date with the transformation at Carrefour Belgium. Lindsay showed how we need to understand more complex purchase journeys – is the path to purchase the new ‘marketing funnel?’. Danielle Pilkington provided a really useful overview of the shopper research toolkit to really help us get under the skin of these individual decisions as marketers.
Finally, it struck me just how central understanding and delivering great shopper experiences remains. Keith showed some fantastic examples of how the shift to online has expanded the choice set for even the most simple purchase decision (and how consumers gravitate to images as a result). Ludovic Depoortere from Haystack gave some fabulous examples of how digital services are enriching the customer experience (none more so than Lemonade). Finally, Zyed Jamoussi of Untienots showed how an understanding of cognitive biases could be applied to a re-imagining of the traditional points-based loyalty scheme.
Lemonade - Making a Complex Category Simple
However, despite all the talk of new tools and approaches, I was left reflecting that the principles of great insight remain. Firstly, as Keith so eloquently pointed out, we must drive action and be clear on the business challenges we are trying to address. Secondly, with such a wide veracity of data now available at our disposal, the human skills of being able to synthesise with clarity and influence internal stakeholders feel more important than ever…