Why “Digital-First” Matters to Driving Shopper Growth

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Behaviorally (formerly PRS) launched on January 21st with the purpose of applying a digital-first approach to defining and diagnosing the key factors that influence consumer choice and drive shopper growth. And this week, we announced the shift of my title from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Digital Officer (Read the press release here) with three (3) core tenets to my new role:

  1. Ensuring the company’s offer and operations align with the company vision to support clients in driving shopper growth in both digital and physical retail channels
  2. Amassing and operationalizing expertise in defining the potential at the digital shelf
  3. Ensuring we have all the latest tools available to diagnose the digital path-to-purchase and its interaction with the physical retail world

Why “Digital-First” Matters

Observing shopper marketing and the behaviors of consumers is our heritage and foundation. Prior to COVID-19, we had already been seeing trends indicating that shopping was moving online and that the shopper path-to-purchase was becoming omnichannel. COVID-19 has only accelerated the change with all indicators pointing to the fact that these shifts are permanent. Given this, it just made sense to us that “digital” needed to be foundational to our methods and our strategy so we were very purposeful in leaning into our “digital-first” promise as we launched our new Behaviorally brand.

But what does “digital-first” mean exactly?

Shopping has indeed become decidedly digital. Even those of us who took pleasure in shopping in physical environments have shifted in most cases to hybrid if not solely online behaviors. As consumers, in less than a year, we have become accustomed to click-and-collect, click-and-deliver, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up in Store), and other e-commerce variations for purchasing literally everything we need. 

This has profound implications for our clients who grapple with new rules of the game for winning at the digital shelf. Clients must now defend market share in the traditional brick-and-mortar retail while also being effective in the new digital battleground. The omnichannel path-to-purchase permanently alters how consumers find their products, view them on digital shelves, recognize them as the same products they select from physical shelves, and respond to interceptions along the digital path-to-purchase that prompt first-time purchases, repeat buys, impulse buys, and choice driven by loyalty. 

Behaviorally’s digital-first approach is our commitment to clients that we can deliver answers that will drive growth on their digital shelves, address their digital path-to-purchase questions, as well as apply digital technology to provide better success rates at-shelf in physical retail environments. 

Applying digital technology to physical retail doesn’t just mean doing a quant pack test study online. With new shopper behaviors come new research challenges but also opportunities to stress test and select the right technologies that can accurately measure the new reality while yielding research results faster. 

Even before the pandemic, we doubled down on our digital research innovation workstreams – developing solutions such as ShopperFlash™, a digital methodology that allows clients to test Pack, POSM, Planograms and Pricing variations in simulated physical shopping environments across categories from mass to grocery, convenience to drug, and specialty retail.

In fact, our ShopperFlash™ methodology was recently used in a cereal shelf study to understand which layout was most likely to drive the behavioral factors that lead to trial – the result of which was an 8% sales increase after introduction in-market. Learn more about this case study here.

Not only have these new methods enabled our clients to evaluate and optimize their investment in shopper marketing online and in-store in new ways – we have also invested in how these digital shopping environments are created via our Digital Image Library, leading to tremendous time savings for clients.   

We have continued the digital development of our OmniPath™ solution, which marries multiple discrete technologies to diagnose the influences, causes, triggers, and holistic factors that inspire consumers to shop the way they do.

A prime example is research we did for Colgate as they were finalizing their online strategy to launch a new smart toothbrush called Hum. Clickstream analytics mapped the most common online consumer paths, including top search terms and websites visited, which helped pinpoint online opportunities to influence shoppers through expert articles leading to a successful launch. Learn more about the case study here.

We have also augmented our world-class ShopperLabs™ with digital tools, such as our Lab Kit software, that allow our qualitative researchers to conduct in-depth research more efficiently with consumers in-context, around their shopping, consumption, and home use behaviors. 

These digital tools work together to deliver our “define and diagnose” solutions across all aspects of digital and physical retail.

By continuously improving the digitization and efficiencies of our methods and processes, I will be dedicating my energies to make sure clients can get the behavioral-based answers they need with the foundation of our shopper marketing expertise, and the speed and reliability necessary to make informed business decisions. 

“Digital-first” is not only a mindset but also a commitment to addressing clients’ existing or new challenges in a retail world transformed by COVID-19. You can always count on us for our decades of category knowledge and our unique behavioral framework; however, my role and our articulation of our “digital-first” approach are the public manifestations of our determination in these volatile and uncertain times for retail, to help our clients drive shopper growth. 

THE AUTHOR

Sam Albert is the Chief Digital Officer and head of the D&I Task Force of Behaviorally (formerly PRS) and provided this blog post as the Chief Operating Officer and the head of the D&I Task Force of PRS IN VIVO USA in November 2020.
He brings over 20 years of experience in the CPG research industry to the responsibility of ensuring that the Company is efficiently organized and operating to achieve the overall business objectives optimally, in a manner consistent with the company vision.
Connect with Sam on LinkedIn here.

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