Creating Path to Purchase Insights and Stories From a Shopper's POV
Want to experience a typical grocery fill in trip from the shopper's point of view via Snapchat Spectacles? I created one this morning on an errand trip to my local Harris Teeter. Spectacles could become a dynamic new part of the shopper marketer's arsenal offering organic shopping insights, shopper journey views and integrated content creation. The best part is shopper marketers will definitely be able to see exactly what is going on along the path to purchase, the good, bad and super-ugly! With billions of dollars being wasted on displays, signage and other shopper placements that never make it to the selling floor, simply gaining a true view of the consumers journey will help to make programs more efficient and retailers and third party vendors more accountable.
In this simple test, I used a typical fill in shopping trip to bring to life my journey from home to store and back again. The result was pretty interesting in terms of the potential to use Spectacles as a Shopper Marketing tool. Armed with a text list from my wife, I headed out for a quick shop. The pre-shop was pretty simple as this was just a routine trip for grocery items. My wife has preferred brands which she specified so there wasn't any prep. I don't use many coupons and no circulars or retailer/third party apps so all I needed to do was get in the car and go. Like most physical retail grocery shoppers, I choose the grocer nearest my home (delivery will disrupt this factor). Snap Shopping will help brands and retailers better understand the purchase hierarchy and shopper behavior.
The path to purchase comes to life via Spectacles. The parking lot was somewhat sparse since this was the day after Christmas but you can clearly see all the specialized parking our Harris Teeter has for veterans, expecting mothers etc, a key part of the brand and its shopping experience. I noticed a couple folks practicing parking lot social, spending time checking social feeds before or after a drive, a growing phenomenon. Walking in the door I'm greeted by $7.99 Pizza Monday signage, a great attempt at winning the early week meal occasion. Note that as I walk in there are at least 50+ messages along my path to the door. This of course is overwhelming and my brain tunes it out. Spend some time observing people entering and leaving stores and you'll find that many are face down in their devices and oblivious to any messaging around theme. Its time for a rethink of most in-store signage and a calming of the noise greeting shoppers at retail to create a better experience for physical shoppers, especially as delivery becomes easier and more competitive. Stores could actually become a place of respite and enjoyment instead of one continuous ad.
Note the decompression zone as I enter the produce area. A gorgeous organic fruit display immediately greets me reinforcing Harris Teeter's fresh food position yet as I round the display, an unattended stocking cart blocks my path. Subconsciously this affects my journey as I navigate around obstacles. If I didn't have a specific shopping mission, I might skip this section all together. Again, Spectacles create a great feedback view for merchants and marketers alike. I really like the pear signage that helps educate me on the wide variety of pears available from the display. Bananas are the most common item in every shopping basket, winning with bananas is a key point of merchandising for grocers and its always interesting to see how bananas are cross-merchandised with other products. I'm surprised that they aren't featured in more locations across the store for shoppers that only need a pharmacy trip for example. I continue through the section on my quest for additional items evaluating the need for two packages of carrots on deal vs. the likelihood that the second package will go to waste, a common shopper decision point.
Beer isn't on my list but with the explosion of craft brewing in North Carolina, I always like to see what's new and add some variety to my beer fridge. They day after a holiday weekend saw the section heavily depleted as the vendors hadn't caught up with all the demand by 10am. Still there was a great selection and a variety of selection. I noticed in my video a beer magazine on the door of the cooler which I hadn't noticed even though I physically opened the door. Again, there are probably other ways for Harris Teeter and its beer suppliers to engage craft beer consumers like Pints, Forks and Friends, a social community built around that category by my business partner Michael Fraser. As consumers spend more time with digital media and less with physical, community content like PFF offers great benefit by creating pull messaging that users actually create, collaborate and share instead of constant noise bombardment of retargeting and pixel driven messaging/tracking.
The next item on my list was turkey lunch meat. I looked briefly at the mid-tier selection and then went over to the deli. I opted for a packaged product after all but much higher price point than my starting place. What a great way to understand the shopper's path and decision touchpoints along with core insights into merchandising effectiveness. Several other displays were placed along my path including one of my favorites of the season, an inspirational stuffing display with inspirational add-ons like oysters and cranberries. This display has been in place since the beginning of November and generally well maintained. Here is another great opportunity to connect in new and unique ways using technology. They challenge becomes most platforms are still thinking about the immediate interaction. The future will be leveraging dwell time at specific shopper interactions to deliver relevant interactions when the shopper is in learn mode which is likely not interrupting them as they are in the middle of shopping. As awesome as it sounds (not), most marketers don't ask the simple question, would I like that if its happening to me.
Finally, I'm at the next stop of my trip, the milk section. I frequently buy the wrong milk (which is why I'm rarely allowed unaccompanied to the store). I have its in my head that we drink Horizon 2% milk when in actuality we Harris Teeter store brand. Don't know why this branding is lost on me but I can't ever get it through my head. The 2% Harris Teeter brand was sold out so I made a call to get Organic Valley, a brand we've never tried before, as it was the same price as the HT brand with a VIC loyalty card discount. These types of shelf decisions are exactly why technology like Spectacles will be so useful for shopper marketing. Having consumers go though actual shopping scenarios vs. controlled experiences will be much more revealing in terms of the thought process that goes into product preference and selection.
The same decision process took place as I made my final selection, toilet paper. My list again specified Harris Teeter brand but there were two choices, soft or strong. When I think of all the time and energy that goes into packaging and the endless research and discussions, this decision made me smile. I literally considered what the marketers were trying to tell me and tried to evaluate which I thought my wife would want. They were the same price so I was a little confused about the difference so ended up choosing strong. How cool would it be to be a brand manager now and use this technology to stop guessing at what sales and research data alone were telling me.
Finally, its time to check out. The final path to the register is littered with holiday closeouts branding from a dedicated close out section to shopping carts filled with orphaned items. I personally like this kind of treasure hunt retail but its a hot mess. Clean store shoppers would likely be repulsed. The checkout space is one of the most valuable in terms of high margin impulse along with shopper experience impression. Harris Teeter does a nice job although its payment systems are now lagging competitors. Mobile pay is non-existent at my store which is becoming more important to me as a shopper who is carrying a wallet and credit cards less and less. I closed the trip with my beer storage solution (old refrigerator in the garage) and getting the look of disapproval from my wife for getting the wrong milk again!
Snapchat Spectacles cracked a simple barrier to democratize the collection and connection to real shopper experiences, free from slow laborious data collection in less than realistic shopping environments. We'll deploy this technology and many other's that helps us understand the Prevailing Path to purchase over the coming months. Hope you'll join us for the trip.