Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Virtual Shopping

Tuesday's afternoon workshop on Creating Successful Retail Stories Featuring Virtual Shopping was informative, interactive and entertaining. Decision Insights's virtual shopping platform enables product manufacturers to test options on the shelf. The program measures actual behavior by testing tactical approaches in the context of an actual shopping experience.
Why virtual shopping? It's time- and budget-sensitive, behavior based, validated and actionable.

The speakers outlined three case studies of virtual shopping in action. In the first, Frito-Lay's marketing objective was to increase sales of family size bags through optimal shelf placement. The research objective was to evaluate shelf placement alternatives to identify which might increase sales the most. The result: Locate family size bags on the end of the shelf, an approach that was validated in store. Overall category sales increased by 7%

Other case studies on Heinz studied SKU rationalization and one about Kellogg focused on improving sales through new packaging.

Attendees divided into three groups and competed against each other on the same carbonated soft drink case study exercise: evaluate which of two pricing strategies is more effective ($3.99 per 12-pack or three 12-packs for $12) and the effectiveness of blade signage on purchase behavior. They each tried to convince and "retailer" to make the recommended changes (the "retailer" was Cathy Allin, president of DI, and two of her executives.

The winner? The group that focused most on the lift in category sales. The real winner: the virtual shopping platform.


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