Danielle Pinnington discusses ease of shop and looks at the engagement factors to consider
Shopper ‘dwell’ time is, on the whole, about quality not quantity, but in a similar way the type of product they are looking at can also determine how long they linger at a fixture. A balancing act is therefore needed if retailers are to maintain ease of shop whilst also encouraging shopper engagement. W hen I first made the switch from being a consumer researcher to a shopper researcher, clients were clamouring for insights that would increase dwell time at fixture. On face value, that seemed a worthy goal – if shoppers spent more time at fixture, they would see more of the options and hopefully buy more, or trade up and spend more, as a result.
As is often the way with shopper research, however, there was more to this metric than it seemed. Take toothpaste for example – shoppers can spend up to two minutes in front of the fixture, which by any measure is a decent dwell time. Yet one in two shoppers walk away from the fixture without making a purchase, blowing sky high the assumption that longer dwell time will lead to better sales. Furthermore, when you talk to shoppers, even those who have managed to make a purchase talk about the frustration involved in shopping a fixture crammed full of small stockkeeping units (SKUs), when you can’t quite remember which variant you prefer because the differences between packs are so subtle.
What we have learned over time is that dwell time is about quality not quantity. If the average time at fixture is only 20 seconds, but almost every shopper who looks at the fixture walks away with a purchase, then there is an argument that the dwell time is appropriate to that fixture. Yet we are also learning that sometimes the fixture is just too easy to shop! If you spend time observing shoppers in store you’ll see plenty of categories where shoppers hardly slow down to grab their purchase and go. This habitual, and blinkered, behaviour is great if you are the brand they home in on, but if you are a challenger brand, or if you are looking to develop the category in the face of falling sales, how do you interrupt shoppers to get them to see beyond what they normally buy? This is when a balancing act is needed, between maintaining ease of shop and encouraging engagement. This takes real category management from brands – ensuring the overall category needs aren’t being trampled on by brand ambitions.
It is also more than throwing point of sale (POS) or new product development (NPD) at the fixture, it is about understanding shoppers need and consumption trends and providing a fixture that meets needs whilst encouraging exploration through the delivery of ideas and solutions.
Danielle Pinnington is the founder and owner, of Shoppercentric which specialises in shopper insight, trends research and specialist training in shopper knowledge and understanding. For further information please visit www.shoppercentric.co.uk