The retail store is like a school where the consumer seeks education: Eye on Asia 2010

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing
Last updated : September 25, 2014 04:04 PM
Grey and G2 reveal seven core findings of the Eye on Asia 2010 Retail Study

Global marketing communications agencies Grey and G2 have released the insights, better known as 'eyesights', obtained from their 2010 Eye on Asia Retail Study. The seven main eyesights revealed carry valuable implications for marketers with respect to their 'shopper strategies' and the way they view the retail space.

Sharing the gist of the findings, Bindu Sethi, chief strategy officer, Grey Asia Pacific, says, "We have found that for the Asian shopper, a store is like a school where consumers look for information about products. The in-store experience is an educative one."

The research looked closely into the Asian shopper's 'purchase decision journey' in order to understand consumers' attitudes and behaviours across different countries and shopping channels; shoppers' needs, motivations and aspirations while shopping for specific categories; and the role of in-store communication.

The journey, right from needing something and choosing a store to getting the brand in the basket, was scrutinised.

Eight key markets were studied, including India, Vietnam, China, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Korea and Indonesia, of which the three priority markets were India, China and Malaysia. Quantitative research included online and in-home interviews, while qualitative research took the form of pre and post 'shop-alongs', that is, 'shopnography'.

The key focus was on young singles, couples (aged 18-24 years) and mothers with children (aged four-12 years), belonging to SEC A, B and C. The channels covered were hypermarkets/supermarkets, pharmacies/drugstores and provision shops/mom and pop stores.

Retail findings are based on real-time conversations with more than 2,100 shoppers from the aforementioned countries.

Categories explored included over the counter (OTC) supplements and treatments; health food and drinks; beauty products; and snacks.

The seven eyesights

The first eyesight reveals that two-thirds of final choices are made in-store, thus highlighting the role of in-store communication. The insight is one that creative agencies can utilise to improve their in-store communication.

Indians display their brand decisiveness by being the only market in Asia that heavily supports home shopping. This is due to consumers' confidence in the provision store staff, timely doorstep delivery systems, the option of returning products and an overall personalised relationship with the storekeeper.

The second eyesight shows that Asian shoppers take time to study products in-store; and this goes beyond comparing the product prices. This is attributed to the fascination with the plethora of choices available, the need to 'test' options, the desire to read the information given on the product packs and the need to find out more about various options before making a choice.

There exists a psychological need to 'feel smarter' while taking a decision; thus, the store acts as the media channel for information about brands. Interestingly, this is a flip from conventional ATL (above the line) marketing, where brands are trying to grab attention, as in-store, the consumer is willing to give brands a lot of time and attention.

The third eyesight shows that advice is appreciated as long as the staff's approach is non-intrusive. Asian shoppers prefer making their own choices but are reassured by the fact that assistance is around if needed. Indians tend to seek help from the store staff when the product of their choice is not available.

The fourth eyesight reveals that almost half the promotions done in-store are a waste! Indian shoppers, in particular, don't appreciate promotions that give away free packets as it gives a sense of being overindulgent. Shoppers are more focused on buying a specific pack size and brand. Consequently, the study stresses the need for clear strategic goals within each promotion to build profitability as against simply 'rewarding shoppers'.

The fifth eyesight says that Asian shoppers visit stores not just for products but also for the experience and that there is a repertoire of positive emotions associated with visiting stores. Chinese and Indians find the in-store experience adventurous! The implication for brands is to capitalise on this positive emotion trend and to focus on retail engagement by investing in experiential marketing.

The sixth eyesight says that marketers do not listen to what the consumer really wants. Consumers in every country prefer a certain kind of communication from brands; Indians respond well to on-pack information and product demonstrations. These findings urge marketers to focus on more effective, affordable in-store communication methods.

The seventh eyesight says that Asian shoppers sport four different shopping hats - this segmentation forms the basis of the researchers' ethnographic immersion with the shoppers.

The study found that based on their mindsets and behaviours, shoppers can be segmented into four tribes, namely loyal listers (who follow their list passionately due to familiarity and confidence with the brands), engaged info-seekers (who are hungry for information and knowledge about the brands), whim indulgers (who are excited with variety, have no prior plan and enjoy trials and demos) and passive value fans (who research brands via word of mouth/newspapers prior to the in-store trip and are driven by promotion offers, sales and VIP discounts).

The findings urge marketers and communicators to tailor in-store communication such that it appeals to each of these tribes.

Overall, the study focuses on consumer-led insights, as opposed to the retail lens. Watch this space; there are 23 more eyesights that are yet to be revealed.

First Published : September 25, 2014 04:04 PM
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