Archive for November, 2010

Changes in Consumer Storage

A RetailWire Post ( today reports that consumers are “deloading” their pantries. This is one more example of changing consumer habits during the economy. This particular change is not a surprise.

Cost savings was a major motivation for companies to re-examine and streamline their supply chains resulting in lower inventory and more turns. Given the economic pressures consumers are feeling today it is not surprising that cost savings is a major motivation to streamline costs by lowering their inventory and increasing turns.

This is just one of many changes that consumer purchasing is taking. Using historical data to predict future consumer spending is increasingly problematic because past behavior is less likely to predict future behavior in today’s marketplace.


Today on RetailWired  Tom Ryan submitted a post describing David Dillon’s, CEO of The Kroger Co., walk around activity.

“With the help of dunnhumby, Kroger Co. believes it has more sophisticated data on its consumers than any of its competitors. But chairman and CEO David Dillon also frequently does “shopalongs” alongside core customers, goes incognito on store visits, visits stores unannounced and even visits consumers in their homes to inspect their cabinets.”

Observing consumers while they are confused, considering choices, grabbing the first product they see, or checking prices reveals important elements of their decision making process that are not necessarily revealed by using any other research tool.  In addition, having the opportunity to ask questions while consumers are making choices or appear confused reveals what the issues are when they are in that situation rather than having them remember what they were thinking about when responding to a survey instrument or when in a focus group.

Real time information during that decision making process can reveal deep insight that is critical for determining whether a company is meeting its goals for consumer interaction or what could be done to facilitate consumer decision making.  More companies are embracing this practice.

Social media allows direct access to individual consumers.  Using social media effectively demands deep insight into your consumers.  Walking around observing and talking to those consumers is a great way to develop a personal understanding of their shopping experience.