Behind-the-Scenes of a Shop-Along

Behind-the-Scenes of a Shop-Along

Ever wonder why one bottle of olive oil gets picked over the other, or how to get new moms coming into your supermarket more frequently? Or what about the brands and retailers that seem to get all the engagement online; ever consider why those companies' social pages are resonating with shoppers more than others?

There are a whole host of questions that smart marketers should be asking themselves in order to stay competitive and relevant to the growing community of health-conscious female consumers. One of the ways we instruct our clients to answer some of these important questions is through shop-along research, which puts us right in the middle of the shopping and buying experience. 

Have you heard of shop-alongs before? Have you ever conducted them, or have a good idea about the value they can deliver (if done correctly)? Allow me to take you behind-the-scenes of a shop-along project, and determine for yourself how worthwhile this form of research could be to you and your company.

I regularly conduct shop-along research inside retail stores (usually grocery stores), and sometimes I sit down with a laptop, tablet or smartphone (or even all three) to see how women shop for specific products online. Green Purse PR's unique approach to shop-along research is part observational and part Q&A. While every shop-along project is different and customized based on our clients' specific challenges, here are just a few reasons why we might conduct shop-alongs for our clients.

  • Client needs to understand how their products can best stand out to shoppers at retail, through media and online.
  • Client needs to urgently move products off shelves, and is not sure why the current sale-through rate is low. (Maybe women are not able to easily find their products in stores, maybe they have no previous knowledge of the brand, maybe their packaging is not resonating.)
  • Client wants to refresh their product packaging or overall branding, but first needs to understand what buzz words and third party certifications that health-conscious women are looking for.
  • Client is considering creating new products, but first need to understand if these proposed products will meet the needs of the shoppers they are after.
  • Client needs to attract more health-conscious moms & get them coming in stores more frequently.
  • Client wants to ensure they are providing the right mix of content on their website and social media pages, and need to know what sort of information and resources women want to see online. (For example, are they posting high-end food photography that looks so difficult and fancy, regular consumers think preparing that sort of food is way out of their league? Or is the brand publishing the same content across all social channels when some of that content may not be relevant to the unique culture of the social platform?)
  • Client wants to take its social media marketing to the next level, but are unsure what their consumers want to see more of. (recipes, meal ideas, product reviews, awards, sales & promotions, giveaways, collaborations with influential bloggers, chef events, etc.)
  • Clients wants to target more health-conscious women (or moms in particular) and need to know how to better accommodate the needs of this group. 
  • Client wants to get ahead of the conscious consumer wave and adapt existing products & consumer marketing to address their evolving needs. 
  • Client needs to beef up their marketing collaboration with a specific retailer partner and need to better understand how they can best reach its shoppers. 
  • Client is planning to launch into a new retailer and needs to know what those shoppers are looking for in stores and online.

When we shop with women in stores or online, here are some of the things we typically like to examine...

1) Where does she naturally gravitate to in a particular grocery section. Back to olive oil -- often times there is a HUGE selection of products; in this category, standing out at the retail shelf is especially difficult!

2) What type of product packaging catches her eye & why.

3) What third-party certifications and verifications she is looking for -- Non-GMO, USDA Organic, Certified Humane, Kosher, Halal, Paleo Approved, etc.

4) What buzz words or product attributes she is hoping to see on the product packaging or shelf signage. (No artificial ingredients, minimally-processed, local, country of origin, not tested on animals, free from gluten, grass fed, grass finished, humanely raised, free range, etc.)

5) What turns her off & why.

Maybe lack of info about a product.

Maybe lack of info about a product.

6) How the product fits into her (and her family's) lives & how she might use/prepare the product.

Photo Source: Organic Girl Instagram

Photo Source: Organic Girl Instagram

7) What sort of connection (or relationship) does she want (if at all) with the brand & how the brand could best reach women like her.

8) What made it into her shopping cart/trolley & why.

Green Purse PR's shop-along research is ideal for retailers, brands and organizations seeking to better understand how health-conscious female consumers think, behave, share and buy. The insights that follow are likely to impact marketing communications, in-store & online education, product placement, visual merchandising, packaging and how retail partners interact with your products and consumers.

Contact me about shop-along research for your company. We conduct our research all over the world in markets such as North America, Australia, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. I look forward to helping your products #GetInHerCart!

- Lisa Mabe-Konstantopoulos, Founder, Green Purse PR