4 Ways Agile Research Can Uncover How Consumers Shop — #TBT Edition

In honor of Throwback Thursday, we wanted to revisit a topic that fascinates and frustrates marketers and researchers alike: how consumers shop. Both teams know that their research and hard work are put to the ultimate test in the aisle—where consumers are ready to buy. In the past, product marketing focused mainly on package format and graphics. In fact, the launch of energy drinks in a slim, sleek can is a great example of the impact package design can have. The unique slim can design captured consumer attention in the overcrowded carbonated drinks aisle, and even allowed for an 80%+ price premium!

Since then, shopper marketing has gone well beyond package testing and basic category planning. Volume building strategies, for example, optimize shopper flow to keep them in the store longer and organize aisles based on activity, solution, or meal planning. In other words, there’s a reason that salsa and dips are on a hanging rack directly in front of the chips. Another strategy focuses on enhancing profitability by separating premium items from mainstream, so shoppers don’t compare prices, providing opportunities for high margin impulse purchases.

Thoughtful category planning truly influences what winds up in a customer’s basket, which is why getting direct feedback from them regarding their shopping habits, behaviors and decision-making processes is so important. Since syndicated data can’t provide the deep insight for high impact strategies, market research consists of more qualitative research than ever before, validating actions before going to market. Below are four ways that researchers can better understand how consumers shop in order to maximize product sales.

1.    Understanding Products in Market — Shopper Journey

Exploring shopper considerations right in the store provides actionable guidance for positioning, packaging, and category leadership. By targeting groups of both heavy and lapsed product users, a brand can understand the influences affecting choice at the point of purchase. You can identify game changing opportunities including accessibility, visible appeal (eg. cold condensation), or competitive health claims, by including activities like:

  • A store visit activity
  • Image uploads
  • Qualitative feedback

2.    Understanding Retail Dynamics — Shopper Journey

Beyond proximity and price, shoppers certainly demonstrate loyalties for their stores of choice. Agile research can quickly explore consumer needs and drivers in choosing shopping venues, as well as understand the importance of each factor by audience type. It can also uncover exceptional, undesirable, and ideal experiences to refine marketing and service offerings.

3.    Category Planning — Shelf Set Assessment

Shelf set market tests are costly and time intensive, but extremely valuable when it comes to driving category growth. A quick read of options with the help of agile research can help to prioritize and optimize design to improve probability of significant impact in the market test.

4.    Optimizing Marketing — Point of Sale Assessment

Since so many consumer decisions are made at point of sale, the messaging must be powerful. But time is usually super tight by the time a marketing program reaches point of sale materials, and research is often foregone. Agile research can allow for speedy consumer insights on design for creative prioritization and optimization before sending to print.


An agile approach to research removes the daunting costs and extensive timelines from your marketing equation, making it far easier to uncover the impactful insights that will optimize the shopper journey and get you an edge on your shelf competition. To learn more about how agile market research can help not only your consumer insights strategy, but also your shopper marketing methodology, download our shopper insights case study today!

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