Campbell Soup Challenges Belief That
70% of Buying Decisions Made at Shelf 

By Al Heller

The long-held belief that shoppers make 70% of their buying decisions at the shelf may not be true after all.

New research from the Campbell Soup Company proves instead that shoppers make 80% of their decisions to fill a specific food-consumption mission before they enter a supermarket. This is true for mainstream, center-store categories with recognizable brands such as soups and shelf-stable juices, according to Phil McGee, director-shopper insights at Campbell Soup.

The maker of the iconic brand of soup used multiple corroborative methodologies to conduct its nationwide
path-to-purchase survey, A Coherent Understanding of Behavioral and Cognitive Leverage Opportunities for Breakthrough Shopper Marketing Activation. In an interview, McGee told CPGmatters that he believes the research is projectable to many categories across the retail-selling floor.

If so, CPG companies practicing Shopper Marketing should think differently about where they invest to influence shoppers. Why? Most important buying decisions occur before the actual store visit.  At the shelf, shoppers typically choose among a fairly limited range of products and features, according to McGee, who also presented results at the Shopper Insights in Action Conference in July.

He contends that the Campbell study is different from others in the marketplace by attempting to explain the path to purchase as it relates to Campbell’s key categories instead of merely describing it.  In other words, rather than simply map the “who, what and where” of the path, Campbell’s research takes CPG and retailers into the “why, how and what could be,” said McGee. 

“Context is king,” he emphasized.  “Goals within context drive shopper decisions.  If my goal is to buy for tonight’s meal and I’m in the supermarket, I’ll decide one way. If I’m planning for the weekend, and I’m home flipping through circulars, I’ll decide another way.” 

To better understand how context affects decision making, McGee describes the notion of shoppers’ proximity to consumption.  “The further away shoppers are from the time of consumption, the more aspirational they are when considering choices; this means health benefits become more important for foods that shoppers will be eating in the future.   By contrast, shoppers in the store buying for meals they’ll eat soon focus primarily on sensory appeal and taste expectations, and secondarily on value,” McGee explained.

Yet CPG faces a significant challenge to gain attention in-store. Shoppers are so overloaded by visual stimuli that their eyes de-select 99% of what they see; of the remaining 1%, shoppers consciously process just one-twentieth of what they encounter, scientific literature shows. 

“People make extraordinary numbers of conclusions when shopping, as they take in little bits of information, process enough and connect the dots subconsciously,” he noted. “Shoppers mostly fixate on the product image, the food itself, the sensory appeal. That fixation is as fast as a finger snap, between 100 and 400 milliseconds.  Among items in our categories that get a fixation, more than half get only one fixation.  Therefore, CPG messages sent must be crystal-clear and very selective.”

Despite the tough economy, shifts in shopping habits, and the rise in coupon usage and list making, once a shopper is in a store, price is far down the list of what shoppers fixate on when they look at packaging and shelving elements, the research confirmed. 

“The battle for value often takes place outside the store. Shoppers have already decided by where they go to shop that a particular store will give the best value for that particular trip. The retailer is a proxy for price, and shoppers generally won’t try to nickel and dime once there,” observed McGee.

The comprehensive study examined U.S. adults in eight different phases of research, including eye tracking, in-store observation, online interviews, in-home ethnography, in-store interviews, EEG (electro-encephelograph) monitoring and mobile eye tracking.  Within each research phase, Campbell attempted to cover as many stages of the path to purchase as was practical—including living, planning, shopping and experiencing—in order to understand decision making activities and influencers within and across stages. 

By linking these research phases, Campbell aims to answer two basic yet compelling questions:  How do I get on the shopping list at home? How do I get in the basket in the store?

“These findings will certainly reshape our thinking about Shopper Marketing,” he emphasized. “This work taught us that people aren’t making their lists or shopping decisions only when they think or say they are. Ideas may come to mind at seemingly random times, like when going to sleep or driving to work. In fact, rather than two or three moments of truth, we find there are infinite moments of truth across the path to purchase. The good news is that some of those infinite moments are more influence-able than others. These are what we call ‘pivotal moments of influence.’ An obvious high proportion of these pivotal moments occur outside the store.  Knowing where, when and how decisions are made helps Shopper Marketers make more efficient and effective investment choices. Otherwise, a lot of effort and resources can be wasted trying to convert shoppers at times and places where they’re unlikely to be converted.“

McGee concluded, “This is less about finding a new way to calculate ROI than it is to understand how to improve it.  That means setting us up to deliver to retailers successful category strategies, Shopper Marketing activations and joint planning platforms.”

Campbell intends to build on this research by deepening its understanding of the data and focusing on additional categories and retail channels.

Al Heller is co-author, Consumer-Centric Category Management (Nielsen/Wiley) and president, Distinct Communications, LLC.

JULY 2011

PepsiCo Enhances Path to Purchase
By Studying Shopper Behavior in Food Stores

By John Karolefski

PepsiCo aims to increase beverage sales in convenience stores and supermarkets through a better understanding of shopper behavior

To that end, the beverage giant is closely observing shoppers’ path to purchase in stores. The initial learning includes how Hispanic beverage buyers differ from non-Hispanics. It has also led to a test of new equipment merchandisers and a new convenience store layout. 

“Because our products are discretionary and impulse based, we really need to understand what’s going on in-store in terms of behavior,” said Kent Bassett, Senior Director of Shopper and Channel Insights for PepsiCo North America Beverages. 

Research by PepsiCo has found that 59% of purchase decisions are made in the store, 64% of LRB (Liquid Refreshment Beverage) is purchase for others, 58% of beverage growth is from Hispanic shoppers, and 50% of shoppers become aware of new products in the store.  

“So in-store behavior is clearly very important to us,” he said, adding that PepsiCo judges itself by four metrics: 
  • Are we bringing in more buyers?
  • Are we increasing our conversion rate?
  • Are we increasing our shopping incidence?
  • Are we increasing the items and dollars?

Those metrics tell PepsiCo “what exactly has to change to be successful in the marketplace,” said Bassett, speaking in a presentation at the annual Shopper Insights in Action conference in Chicago in July.
Joining him at the podium was Rajeev Sharma, Founder and CEO of VideoMining Corporation, a provider
of in-store measurement technology that automatically converts video into precise, statistical data on the shopping process.

Bassett said data gaps exist along the path to purchase, including how different shoppers move around the store. Those gaps have prevented marketers from developing the most effective and relevant strategies and tactics. But in-store video research is helping PepsiCo fill those gaps, he said, by providing unique insights into shoppers – their behavior and even their age, gender and ethnicity.

“With IRI and Nielsen data, we can understand trip units, incidence and trips per buyer. But they fail to get us to an answer of where, when and why that happens. So we have to use this new technology to bring new solutions to the marketplace. This is technology that we have never had before,” he said. 

In the Convenience and Gas (C&G) channel, PepsiCo is focusing on category conversion, traffic flow and display conversion. Bassett calls C&G a “must-win channel” because it consists of 62 million trips and 36 million beverages sold per day. Other than gas, LRB is the top selling product in convenience stores. 

“There are a lot of challenges when it comes to the data,” he said. “It is immediate consumption, so nobody is bringing something home to scan for a panel. It’s highly fragmented with strong regionals, so we have a hard time getting retail data. Core shoppers such as unacculturated Hispanics and blue-color males are not online participating in studies. Store visits tend to be around two minutes, so it’s hard to intercept somebody and do ethnography. And 70% of the visits are gas-and-go; they don’t even make it into the store.” 

That lack of traditional data makes in-store measurement via video technology all the more important, he said. For example, video research of shopper behavior has shown that Hispanics differ from non-Hispanics in terms of shopping patterns and where they go in the store.  They buy different products, and they actually buy different “forms” of products in a category. For example, fountain beverages instead of bottles and cans.

“Hispanics are much more goal oriented,” Bassett explained. “They spend less time in the store than non-Hispanics. At the end of the day, there’s a big opportunity for us to learn because Hispanics are going to be so important for our growth going forward. There is an upside conversion if we get cold vault right.”

To take advantage of the unique shopping behavior in C-stores, PepsiCo is testing a three-sided display case at Rutter’s, a chain in Pennsylvania. 
“We created this three-sided end-cap to attract traffic and impulse purchases,” he said. “We have to do more of these endcaps and display units to capture shoppers wherever they are in the store.”

PepsiCo has also developed a “model store” that it is promoting to retailers around the country. The layout capitalizes on the impulse nature of C-store shoppers. 

“We are in the process of rolling it out now,” he said. “We created a model store based in part on these shopper insights.” Included are ideas for merchandising, signage and other touch points in the store.

“Impulse can happen anywhere. We have to figure it out with our point of sale and products across the store to make sure we are capturing as many purchases as possible. That has changed our way of thinking about the store. The model has been adapted by some retailers, mostly by our closer partners. We’ve continued to recommend it where ever we can,” he said.
The objective of a PepsiCo study in supermarkets was to understand category conversion, shopping patterns by mission, and the amount of time and effort is took for somebody to go down an aisle and identify the product they wanted. The two most important trip missions, which account for two-thirds of the total, are pantry loading (for the week’s worth of groceries) and quick trips (for fill-in groceries and immediate consumption).

“When you are on a pantry stock-up trip, you are really going into each of the aisles, back and forth, spending almost an hour in the store,” he explained. “But what’s interesting – and something we didn’t know – is that even though they are spending more time in the store, conversion is the lowest for our categories. So more time in the store equals less time to buy beverages, which is counter intuitive. We had no idea that was happening. In fact, we thought pantry stock-up was something we owned, and didn’t think we had to work on.

“There is much more cherry picking in the store with people trying to conserve cash at the end of the day. This is a fundamental change in how we think about shopping behavior within the grocery channel and we really need to understand this more.”

Bassett said quick trips to the grocery store have been growing for years due to macro factors such as urbanization, smaller households and the economy. As a result, more thought needs to focus on the perimeter because shoppers are not walking down the aisle on quick trips. 

“We need to signal consumption occasions that are immediate in nature. That means multiple touch points throughout the store,” he said. 

The bottom line for PepsiCo is that obtaining unique insights into shopper behavior via video research helps address shopper and category problems. “I am a big believer in the methodology and technology,” Basset said. 

At the end of the presentation, Sharma announced the launch of the Center Store Mega Study by VideoMining. The goal of the year-long shopper behavior project is to develop metrics for “share of shopper.” The project aims to capture 10 million shopping trips. Ultimately, the study will include four or five leading grocery retailers and eight to ten banners, across 15 geographically dispersed U.S. markets.

VideoMining’s technology collects the data via a network of cameras throughout the store, producing a feet-on-the floor tracking of each shopper. The network also captures every “Do I buy or don’t I buy?” moment, measures them in seconds, and then relates them to sales and conversion.

Market Watch
Center Store MegaStudy Launched
To Develop Metrics for ‘Share of Shopper’

By Lynne Cooke

To develop metrics for what it calls “Share of Shopper,” VideoMining Corporation has launched a year-long shopper behavior project called the Center Store MegaStudy.

The project aims to capture 10 million shopping trips. Ultimately, the study will include four or five leading grocery retailers and eight to ten banners, across 15 geographically dispersed U.S. markets.

VideoMining’s technology collects the data via a network of cameras throughout the store, producing a feet-on-the floor tracking of each shopper. The network also captures every “Do I buy or don’t I buy?” moment, measures them in seconds, and then relates them to sales and conversion.

“Once we collect all that data on shoppers on an ongoing basis, we move from a project study to a new type of ongoing syndicated model for the industry,” said Tom Sullivan, president of the firm based in State College, Pa. 

The MegaStudy will also capture another key element in understanding shopper behavior. Post-shopping interviews will query shopper to gain attitudinal insights. This will add the “Why” component to add to the
“what, where, how” provided by the camera technology. Partnering with VideoMining on this aspect of the study is Synovate.

“The key to Center Store Optimization is the ability to quantify a large sample of shopper behavior observations,” Sullivan said. “We can track the Path-to-Purchase and the Moment-of-Truth and provide new shopper marketing metrics which will assist retailers and brands in their efforts to achieve Center Store Optimization. One of these key metrics is Share of Shopper.”

Compliance Workshop Planned
The In-Store Implementation Network is planning a workshop on compliance on Sept. 19 just prior to the third annual LEAD Marketing Conference in Chicago. The theme of the workshop is “Sense & Perform: Finding Best Practice Benchmarks for In-Store Implementation.” 

The workshop, sponsored by Gladson, will be conducted by James Tenser, executive director of the ISI Network. For more information, call 502-390-3751, or visit

Brands Support In-Store TV 
Several CPG marketers are promoting their world-class brands on an in-store TV network launched by Bloom,
a regional grocery chain and part of Delhaize America, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Nestle Purina and others have signed on the pilot of 3GTV Network from Automated Media Services (AMS) in nine stores in the Washington D.C. marketplace.
Mainstream media is recognizing the in-store network and will becoming part of the programming. For example, WDCW, Washington D.C.’s CW affiliate, has signed on to exchange airtime with the 3GTV network on an equivalent audience delivery basis. Media agencies can now purchase in-store airtime using the same metrics as in-home television.

Ten years of research have resulted in the development of 3GTV Networks, which AMS says is the first system to make the retail store a plannable media destination. Part of the package is the first in-store digital communications backbone supporting digital messaging at the shelf-edge, 2-way communications, shopper tracking and measurement tools, and a range of future activity anticipated by current consumer behaviors.


Campbell Soup Challenges Belief That 70% of Buying Decisions Made at Shelf

PepsiCo Enhances Path to Purchase by Studying Shopper Behavior in Food Stores

Center Store MegaStudy Launched to Develop Metrics for 'Share of Shopper'

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August 2011
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