on May 17, 2016 Getting Started with Design Thinking Innovation Management Enterprise Innovation

Using Store Visits to Gather Consumer Knowledge

Store visits allow you to gather first-hand research and inspiration by going on-location to see consumers in their community. Getting out of the office helps you stay inspired and stay close to the consumer. You can get real knowledge of the market, see consumer needs, and observe emerging trends first-hand.

Here are the some of the top tips to get started with store visits, broken down into three steps: Planning, Fieldwork and Synthesis.

Planning

During planning, you will share inspiration, ideas of where to visit, and any local connections. Planning is important to make sure you stay on-strategy and maximize your time out of the office.

Step 1 of Planning: Set your objectives.

Before you spend resources for any store visit, capture what your intention is for the store visit. You can think of this an opportunity, or the challenge, your team is collecting information on. There is no right or wrong objective - and part of the value in setting an objective is simply getting your team aligned.

Step 2 of Planning: Build your team.

Every person brings a different perspective and unique attention to detail to your challenge. Build a diverse team that’s best suited to gather valuable evidence and clues. You don’t have to set up your team by bringing people across function or discipline, but that’s a good way to start. Include people who can naturally look at the shopping environment, and the consumer, with a distinct perspective.

Step 3 of Planning: Create your inquiry questions.

Now that you know your intentions and you have your cast of characters set, you can start creating the list of questions you’ll be asking.  It might help to map out your objectives, and then relate that to the questions you’ll need to ask.

If you don’t know where to start, consider:

  • Demographics that impact shopping behavior and decision-making
  • Psychographics and lifestyle habits/routines
  • Shopping habits

Fieldwork

To make the most of each store visit, aim to explore, observe, capture, and inquire. By the end of your research, you’ll have collected notes, images, photos, videos, and more. These are things that stood out to you, that were interesting, new or noteworthy.

Step 1 of Fieldwork: Exploration.

Which Type Are You?
Generally there are two approaches to gathering clues and evidence:

Explorers: these are the pioneers on any store visit. They tend to lead the way, and they like to be - and stay - inspired.

Executors: these are the settlers - essential for any team that can connect the dots between what’s existing and what’s new or emerging.

You might find you’re more inclined to be an Explorer or an Executor. Both are needed!

Steps 2-4 of Fieldwork: Observation, Collection & Inquiry.

As you start to observe and capture, there are several things you want to collect:

What consumers are doing. Capturing a consumer’s actions and behaviors provides a high-level sense of their experience. (This only requires observing consumers.)

What consumers are thinking. Asking questions to uncover what someone is thinking helps you know more about their beliefs and decision making process. Knowing what someone is thinking helps tell you “why” they are behaving the way they are.

What consumers are feeling. Look to ask questions that decode a consumer’s motivations, attitudes and aspirations. Here’s where you really capture the “invisible” part of their experience.

All these inputs are our “dots.” When we create or innovate, we will access this “collection” of dots to help us solve problems and combine ideas in a whole new way.

Synthesis

It’s time to collaborate around your learnings: you will find and solidify themes, patterns, insights or ideas at this stage. When formalized, these insights can inform future product development.

Step 1 of Synthesis: Select your map.

Now that it’s time to make sense of your content. You can theme and cluster by:

  • Affinity or common themes
  • Chronology
  • Persona or lifestyle
  • Relationships

Step 2-3 of Synthesis: Construct the map and discuss with your team.

Think like a curator: once you’ve chosen a map that can help you spot opportunity or theme your findings, start to theme, cluster and further organize your assets. When synthesizing, look to bring the full human experience to life.

Here are four things to consider as you collaborate as a team:

  • Did you address the key questions you set out to answer?
  • Have you shown your process?
  • Have you formalized your discoveries?
  • Do you have your findings set up to drive or spur action?

Step 4 of Synthesis: Share your output and get more feedback.

When your findings have context and are rich stories ready to be shared, share your findings with colleagues to maximize their impact.

Getting feedback from people outside your team allows you to share your consumer insights and prioritize opportunity areas. You can present the story to colleagues, and then ask them for their feedback after.

Bring Human Experiences to Life with Store Visits

Store visits complement other information-gathering techniques and bring human experiences to life. By going on location, we can better empathize with consumers because we uncover how they think, feel and behave “at shelf.”

With Batterii, you can start to sort through and curate the content you’ve collected during any store visit. Using more than one Batterii backdrop to organize and synthesize your findings will push you to “connect the dots” in different, unexpected ways.

Gather Consumer Stories Using Batterii

Batterii can help you efficiently gather market research that can inform new product development. Download the Digital Ethnography Guide to see how Batterii can help collect - and then synthesize - all your research in one place. In the guide, you’ll discover some of the top methods brands use to listen, explore and monitor consumers across social media. Get the Digital Ethnography Guide today.

guide to digital ethnography_download your copy

Tova Suddarth

Tova Suddarth is the Director of Client Services and Support at Batterii. Batterii is a platform designed to help cross-functional teams collaborate through the front end of the design process.