Coca cola project shopper 360 (ESOMAR 2011)
 

Coca cola project shopper 360 (ESOMAR 2011)

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How on-line community research can help brands keep their finger on the pulse of shoppers' decision making. ...

How on-line community research can help brands keep their finger on the pulse of shoppers' decision making.

Coca-Cola is one of the world’s strongest brands, delivering consistently high brand equity scores and generating a huge amount of brand love across generations. As the soft drinks market becomes increasingly competitive and diversified, a major challenge for Coca-Cola is ensuring that shoppers continue to actually pick the product up and put it in the supermarket trolley, convenience store basket, the drinks holder in the car, or to open on the bus journey home. In short, the brand faces an on-going challenge to ensure consistent conversion from brand love to purchase and consumption.

This paper outlines some of the approach, some of the learning, and some of the principles from several different studies conducted by Coca-Cola in GB and Ireland between 2008 and 2010.

Written by Philip McNaughton and Beth Corte-Real for Esomar 2011 event.

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Coca cola project shopper 360 (ESOMAR 2011) Coca cola project shopper 360 (ESOMAR 2011) Document Transcript

  • Page 1 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 BUSINESS CONTEXT – THE IMPORTANCE OF SHOPPER BEHAVIOUR FOR COCA-COLA As one of the world’s strongest brands, delivering consistently high brand equity scores and generating a huge amount of brand love across generations, Coca-Cola has had few problems getting people to like it. However, as the soft drinks market becomes increasingly competitive and diversified, a major challenge for Coca-Cola is ensuring that shoppers continue to actually pick the product up and put it in the supermarket trolley, convenience store basket, the drinks holder in the car, or to open on the bus journey home. In short, the brand faces an on-going challenge to ensure consistent conversion from brand love to purchase and consumption. Understanding the way people interact with Coca-Cola brands within the retail environments is therefore an absolutely key part of Coca-Cola’s insight agenda, whether that be in terms of pricing, promotion, in store communication, bundling or simply understanding key behaviour drivers in different environments. This paper outlines some of the approach, some of the learning, and some of the principles from several different studies conducted by Coca-Cola in GB and Ireland between 2008 and 2010. Each of these studies focused on a different important audience for Coca-Cola:  Older Teenagers 16-19: pre-family buying mostly for themselves  Young Adults 19-27: pre-family buying mostly for themselves  Family Shoppers: mums and dads buying for themselves and their family Each of these pieces of work was rooted methodologically in a real time online community that ran between five to six weeks. Although each of these studies were conducted discretely, and had their own agendas and subtly varying methodologies, the fact that we were able to run them more or less concurrently and with a similar organising thought behind them meant that we were able to build up a comprehensive bank of shopper insights that ran across audiences. RESEARCHING SHOPPER BEHAVIOUR THROUGH ONLINE COMMUNITIES – A COUNTERINTUITIVE APPROACH? Although the basic methodology for each project was an online community, in this paper we hope to get under the skin of how we used those communities and show how Face and Coca-Cola worked together to apply a range of tools, techniques and solutions to get under the skin of shopper behaviour. Many of those tools and techniques were, relatively speaking, non-traditional, as we were working online and conducted little face to face work. While online has become commonplace in the industry in terms of understanding consumer behaviour and attitudes, it can seem counter-intuitive to employ this seemingly ‘remote’ methodology to something so real, visceral and physical as shopper behaviour (notwithstanding the growing online shopping context.) In this paper we hope to show how and why it is in fact a highly effective way of yielding insight in this area. The work we undertook was qualitative in nature and largely user-generated and unmediated, with no accompanied shops or store exit interviews. There were no groups focusing on shopper behaviour or investigating different marketplace execution options. Neither was there neurological or physiological measurement of brain activity in a retail environment or tracking of shopper footfall. Through much of the process we were neither asking people what they thought nor measuring how they felt. COCA-COLA PROJECT SHOPPER 360° HOW ON-LINE COMMUNITY RESEARCH CAN HELP BRANDS KEEP THEIR FINGER ON THE PULSE OF SHOPPERS’ DECISION MAKING Philip McNaughton • Beth Corte-Real
  • Page 2 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 We say this now to emphasise that the work done across these projects was never intended to be a silver bullet solution for gaining perfect shopper insights. It bundled up a variety of approaches that aimed for great shopper insight but we are not claiming a holy grail or a complete methodology. Rather, we would see what we did as complementary to other approaches – whether old, new, qualitative or quantitative. Instead, in this paper we hope to show how working with online communities in the right ways and following the right kind of principles can lead to better shopper insights in all sorts of important ways. FACING UP TO THE CHALLENGES OF RESEARCHING SHOPPER BEHAVIOUR Before we drop into the detail of how we approached the challenge of using online methodologies to gather shopper insights, it is worthwhile looking at some of the specific challenges that face a business like Coca-Cola in terms of researching shopper behaviour and attitudes. 1. Soft drinks are a relatively unconsidered purchase – being either habitual or impulsive – and very hard for people to truly recall or articulate decision-making processes and influences in retail environments. How can we capture experience at the point of experience? 2. Coca-Cola plays in a huge variety of environments – from huge multiple retailers to petrol station to cinema to restaurants to convenience stores – each of which has different contexts and different shopper mentalities. In fact even a simplistic sub-division counts 20 different environments. While some are more significant than others, understanding this complexity is a huge challenge (see figure 1). How can we ensure that we capture people’s experiences and gather learning across all these subtly different environments? FIGURE 1, COKE ENVIRONMENTS 3. Coca-Cola has a very broad target audience, made up of a number of different cohorts each with different mentalities and behaviours in terms of shopping. 4. Purchase of soft drinks is often bundled with other purchases – especially food and snacks – whether in big multiple retail or convenience stores, which can make unpicking the role of the drink in that context even tougher. In addition to these Coca-Cola specific challenges there are other significant challenges inherent in researching shopper behaviour that were relevant to this brief: 1. What people plan to do is often different to what they actually do. How can we explore these contradictions and understand how the real world gets in the way of planning? 2. What people tell us that they do or think they do is different to what they actually do. How can we get under the skin of what people actually do and get them to help us understand why they do it? 3. Shopping behaviour is not static and conceptual - it is real, fluid and changeable. How can we create a longitudinal, 360 degree perspective of shopper behaviour rather than moment in time reporting and recall?
  • Page 3 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 It was with each of these challenges in mind that we designed the approach taken across the pieces of work. However, we were guided by one central principle in terms of generating shopper insight, that is, the need for the researcher to get out of the way and let participants show us their own behaviour and tell us their own stories. CENTRAL PRINCIPLE: RESEARCHER GETS OUT OF THE WAY Much has been written about the changing role of the researcher and the need for us as researchers to take a step back and re-evaluate our role in the insight gathering process – a move towards stimulation and curation, filtering and fusing, and we do not need to revisit the philosophical argument in any detail here. However, it is important to note that we approached each of the different pieces of work with the view that we should as researchers get out of the way of the participants as much as we possibly can – trying to remain catalytic and neutral rather than a controlling leading force. This principle of getting out of the way ran through the variety of approaches applied across these projects, and serves as a useful way of introducing some of the methods employed Across the three core projects we worked with something like 250 participants in GB and Ireland, drawn largely from Face’s own consumer communities – Headbox for older teens and young adults and Mindbubble for mums. (see figures 2 and 3). FIGURE 2 FIGURE 3
  • Page 4 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 At the heart of each project was an on-going online community which gave participants access to a full range of tools, including four tools that lay at the centre of our quest for shopper insights: As we go through the paper we will show how each approach was used in more detail.  Ongoing Soft Drink Consumption and Purchase Diaries - allowing participants to capture and comment on all shopping and consumption occasions across a five-week period.  Mobile Status Update Tool - allowing participants to send SMS updates directly into the community from wherever they were and in real time.  Multi-Media Upload - allowing participants to upload videos of their own shopping trips and scanned images of their own shopping lists and till receipts.  Community Forums - allowing us, where required, to probe specifically around shopping behaviour in a more communal dynamic setting. Although each of these tools was applied to this project in different ways and for different means, the central principle behind their application was allowing people to show and tell their own stories around shopping for soft drinks. Allowing people to talk to each other rather than responding to researchers yielded a huge amount of richness in terms of language, tone of voice, as well as honesty in terms of their attitudes to the category and shopping environments. By allowing people to lead us through the research process and to guide us to their own shopping experiences rather than being prescriptive about where they took us and what they showed us, we were able to go on a huge variety of shopping journeys with them, 24 hours a day and across the length and breadth of the country, from the biggest supermarket to the smallest local shop. All of this allows for a different kind of research landscape, one which subverts the traditional question and answer format – a relatively unfamiliar form of human communication and interaction – and replaces it with something far more natural and intuitive, more iterative and wide-ranging. MEETING THE CHALLENGES AND APPLYING THE TOOLS As stated above, we identified five key challenges we wanted to address, and we designed our methodologies appropriately For each challenge we will show how and why we employed the tools that we did, and how that approach lead us to shopper insights.  Challenge 1: Immediacy, impulse and how the mobile status tool told us stories from the front line of shopper behaviour  Challenge 2: Many a slip between list and wallet or how videos and shopping list analysis told us the story of how shopper behaviour doesn’t go in straight lines  Challenge 3: Everywhere and anywhere and how consumer generated videos gave us access to shopping experiences that other methodologies couldn’t reach  Challenge 4: How we deceive ourselves and how consumer re-reviews of their own behaviour helped them to help us understand the difference between what they thought they did and what they actually did  Challenge 5: Getting the big picture means working with people over time and allowing them to lead us where they actually go, not where we want them to go Challenge 1: Immediacy, impulse and how the mobile status tool told us stories from the front line of shopper behaviour Obviously one of the big challenges for a brand like Coca-Cola is how to capture shopper behaviour in real time without being present at all the potential shopping occasions. All members of the communities were asked to send SMS and MMS updates directly into the community from their mobile phones (see figure 4) whenever they were on the go. We asked them to send us details of two things in particular in this context: 1. Anything at all that they saw in retail that caught their eye, whether it be promotions, price deals, in store communications 2. Details of any soft drinks shopping experiences that weren’t especially planned.
  • Page 5 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 FIGURE 4 While we never expected participants to send us details of every soft drink buying occasion, (remember that this is a qualitative piece) this mobile status update tool worked alongside the ongoing drinks diaries to help us build up a picture of more considered and more impulsive moments. What is absolutely key about the mobile status tool is that it allows people to capture and tell us about experiences there and then, without having to wait to get home, or to recall it in an interview some time later, vital for capturing feelings and experiences in real time. This gave us a sense of what really stood out in retail, what got cut through and how shoppers behaved in more off guard shopping moments, allowing us to compare to more planned shopping experiences. Overall we received an average of nine SMS updates per person across the five-week period (of course some sent hundreds and others only one or two.) This amounted to around 2,000 updates across all of the projects. When dealing with Mobile Status updates it is obviously important to approach the data yielded with a mindset that you can’t expect people to write rich and detailed messages every time – some are incredibly functional and brief. This is why we try to think of them more like an open-ended quantitative question in the sense that while one SMS in isolation might not tell you a huge amount, when they start to build up over time, we can as researchers start to see some significant patterns emerge. If you imagine being able to leave a highly relevant open-ended question in the hands of committed group of participants over time, and allow them to answer whenever and however they want you get a sense of the power of this approach, especially when you consider that it gives you access to hundreds and hundreds of shopper occasions that would simply otherwise be unreachable. Here are some of our mobile status update favourites. “Bought some lucozade today. £1 for a massive bottle in the spar! My day’s on the up.” “£1 for 3 cans of tango at poundland! Yes pls J !!!!!” “i reeealy want the pink leopard print on glass bottles!!! i collect them and it’s awesome!” “Free Brownie Day group on FB. Link to voucher for free brownie with Fairtrade Starbucks coffee all day tomorrow (fri 26th). Shame I don't like coffee.”
  • Page 6 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 “Went into co-op today. Wanted a carton of strawberry Ribena. Didn't have any. Bought their own brand tropical juice (small bottle). Was disgusting. Went to get a carton of tropical Sun-Exotic from another shop, instead.” “local filling station selling 2 x small bottles of coke for 1.60 or 1.00 each. I bought 2, although i really only wanted one, but for an extra 40p it seemed stupid not to? It really was an impulse buy and i dread to think how many calories.” “this morning after the school run, I called into Dunnes for Bread, Milk, Fresh veg, and juice - however I also got diverted and bought meat, pate, basket of oranges, 2 x packs or Oreo biscuits, salt tuc biscuits once again impulse buy is a definite problem here.” We loved seeing how excited the young adults got about drinks promotions and how they could really make their day. This compared with some of the mums shopping in retail who were much more targeted and hard-nosed about seeking out value and deals. The mobile status updates also revealed how while many of the mums and dads could be quite rigid and controlled in the some shopping experiences and environments, they could be personally more indulgent and impulsive in other occasions and places. The mobile status tool was key in capturing the subtle differences between occasions and allowing us to see moments that may have been missed had we been relaying purely on recall. Challenge 2: Many a slip between list and wallet or how videos and shopping list analysis told us the story of how shopper behaviour doesn’t go in straight lines The big challenge here is getting under the skin of what happens between preconceptions and planning and actual purchase – it’s a key issue but hard to understand, and very difficult for consumers to articulate what is going on. Across the projects there were a couple of tools and techniques we employed to try and get under the skin of this area. Firstly, when we were getting people to make video clips capturing their soft drink shopping experiences, we encouraged them to make multiple entries capturing the before, during, and after of the experience. In the before they talked about what they were expecting to buy, and in the after they talked about what they actually did and why that had happened. These video clips were a mix of mums and dads talking at home and older teenagers talking into mobile phones on the way home from school. This helped us to understand and showed the extent to which behavior was influenced by what participants experienced as shoppers as we saw people frequently changing their minds at point of purchase. Interestingly, it was particularly pronounced among the older teens. As we sent our young participants out to film their own soft drink shopping missions, one thing became very clear – the decisions that they made about what to buy were almost exclusively driven by what happened at the point of purchase. Only a handful actually carried through intention to purchase to actually purchase, and most were swayed by visibility, availability, price and promotion. The second technique we applied in this area was aimed more specifically at our mums and dads, and looked at the main weekly grocery shop. The parents in the community sent us in shopping lists and till receipts to compare what was planned with what was bought. This showed that while parents were typically buying more than was planned overall – it wasn’t consistent in all categories, and that soft drinks were relatively stable and considered purchases in this particular environment with parents tending to stick to their lists in terms of drinks. Challenge 3: Everywhere and anywhere and how consumer generated videos gave us access to shopping experiences that other methodologies couldn’t reach Coca-Cola is everywhere, and bought at any time, so a major challenge was to find ways of capturing those occasions in the broadest possible way while still providing richness and detail. This is where diaries and self-ethnography particularly come into their own. How else, for example, could you capture the experience of two early twenties girls on a 2 am trip to buy red bull in a giant 24 hour supermarket, or a dad talking about his impulse buys from the petrol station.
  • Page 7 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 FIGURE 5, VIDEO DIARY Interestingly we found that this area was hugely significant for the young adults we worked with as their shopping behaviour was so diverse and unpredictable. Trying to capture the richness and variety of their shopping experiences would have been impossible via any traditional accompanied methodology, and the video diaries added a richness and drama not captured fully in written diary entries. Crucially then, here we were able to gain shopper insight into occasions and environments we didn’t even know existed before we started the research. Over the course of the project we received over 200 self-made shopper videos, from all times of day, across a huge variety of occasions and environments. Because we were not prescriptive with people over what, where, and when they should be shooting we were truly able to capture the full shopper behaviour everywhere and anywhere – vital to Coca-Cola. Again it is not always seeing one video in isolation that leads to a killer insight (although it can!) but rather the accumulation and variety of footage that really helps tell a complete story about the differences around shopper behaviour between audiences, environments and occasions. Challenge 4: How we deceive ourselves as shoppers and how consumer re-reviews of their own behaviour helped them to help us understand the difference between what they thought they did and what they actually did While it is a little unfair to write about shoppers deceiving themselves, it is undoubtedly true that people are very bad at recalling accurately what they may have done or why they have done it. This is particularly true in terms of actual shopper behaviour and particularly true with a relatively low consideration category like soft drinks. So there is always a big challenge in trying to get any real depth and diagnostic richness around why people do the things that they really do rather than what they think they do. Getting people to complete ongoing drinks purchasing diaries is obviously a great start as it shows what people are actually buying. We always encourage participants to give us as much detail as they possibly can in terms of why they are doing things, or why they thought they were doing things at the time. However, this is only a part of the story. What we also encourage people to do is to actively review and comment on their own diary entries at the end of the project. We ask them to take a look back over everything they have consumed and purchased and probe around what has surprised them and how different their actual behaviour is to what they thought it had been and why they think this might be so. Effectively we use their own data as stimulus material for their own diagnostic consideration. Athough this sounds simple enough it is a surprisingly effective at unpicking hidden truths behind shopper behaviour. Participants become perfectly poised between the objectivity of looking back over recorded behaviour and the subjectivity of understanding their own circumstances which allows them to explore and tell stories as to why they behave the way they do. Of course, we have to expect that not everyone is capable or able to really unpick motivation retrospectively, but
  • Page 8 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 this kind of 360 degree review process, when combined with the researchers’ instincts, can identity some hidden gems in terms of behaviour. Effectively we are harnessing the power of the crowd by having over 200 pairs of eyes looking at behavior and reporting. Challenge 5: Getting the big picture means working with people over time and allowing them to lead us where they actually go, not where we want them to go The guiding principle we outlined earlier in the paper talked around taking a step back as researchers. Linked to this guiding principle is the idea of being able to work with people over an extended period of time to get deeper and broader insights. Being able to build up a picture of participants’ behaviour as shoppers over five or six weeks is a fantastic luxury to have as a client and a researcher as you can get a real ongoing sense of the real world they live in. Of course, we have to work hard to keep people motivated over this time period by varying tasks, rewarding appropriately and engaging people with constant feedback, but the pay-off is huge in that far more of what is captured is real and actual behaviour rather than edited highlights or reporting based on unreliable edited recall. This is not really about one tool or technique rather than another, but rather the idea of being able to apply all the tools and techniques over time to build up a complete picture that has both depth and breadth. We get the breadth by putting participants in control and having the time to let them take us on a journey into their worlds. It is only by doing this that we can see everything that they do. It is only this, for example, that allows us to see just how varied the soft drinks purchasing behaviour of one young participant was over the course of a couple of weeks (see figure 6). FIGURE 6, SCREEN SHOT FROM DIARY ENTRIES IN PRESENTATION However, this breadth is only one part of the benefit that can be accrued from working with people over an extended period of time. The other is the depth you are afforded by working in partnership with people and building up a relationship. This allows people to be more rigorously honest with you, to give you a mix of objectivity and subjectivity, and to look back over their behaviour and help us as clients and researchers to understand it better.
  • Page 9 - EVENTS NAME 2011 Copyright © ESOMAR 2011 SHOPPERS ARE PEOPLE TOO! SYNTHESISING THE SHOPPER AND CONSUMER PERSPECTIVE Shoppers – whether consumers or merely providers - are human, open to a huge number of influences, some transitory and shallow, some deep and permanent. They are hugely rational at times, highly (and infuriatingly for brands and researchers) irrational at others. But however a shopper is influenced, it is evident that understanding their behaviour at the retail point of purchase is only part of the story, just as understanding consumer relationships with a brand can only ever be part of the story. So, with this in mind, it is important to say that each of these studies was not only a shopper focused piece of work (although understanding the shopper perspective was a vital component of each), rather they were root and branch studies of each of these audiences, that incorporated understanding of shopping behaviour and attitudes alongside other objectives. Importantly, what this allowed us to do was to contextualise shopper learning within a bigger picture of how these participants thought and acted as real people, and, to some extent show how attitudes towards brands and products and communications interacted with experiences in shops and supermarkets and petrol stations and cafes to form a holistic sense of human and real interactions with the category in question. For example we were able to see how different drinks brands could make it on to a consideration set, but how people would switch between those brands at point of purchase and in different ways depending on the environment. Equally we came to understand through the research just how little people differentiated between fizzy and still drinks, and could change from wanting a fizzy drink to buying a still drink, or vice versa. For a business like Coca-Cola this was particularly important because it showed just how much they needed to harness the power of the full range of drinks in the portfolio, from Coca-Cola to Vitamin Water to Powerade to Diet Coke and Fanta Zero - working together across brands and categories to maximize performance in this segment. While the idea of treating consumer and shopper insights as part of the same insight gathering process may sound incredibly obvious, research is all too often parcelled into ‘shopper’ and ‘consumer, It can all too often become conceptual and one-dimensional, making it tough to see the links between these two sides. THE AUTHORS Philip McNaughton, Face, United Kingdom. Beth Corte-Real, Coca-Cola NW Europe, United Kingdom.