Shopping with the Consumers !

Among various data collection methodologies like observation, face to face interviews, online surveys, telephonic interviews in market research, accompanied shopping research is one of the innovative research methods.  The objective of this research method is to observe the customer’s buying behaviour and responses in the real environment where they shop. This methodology is similar to observation research, one of the qualitative data collection methods but differ in certain aspects.  In observation technique, the researcher merely observes the buying behaviour of the customer without customer’s knowledge.  This is a plus point in the study as the researcher can record the real time and genuine responses of how the customer behaves in the natural environment without any bias.

Accompanied shopping research refers to a qualitative data collection process where the researcher accompanies the customer for a shopping trip to understand his buying behaviour.  The customers/participants in this research are pre-recruited by the researcher. The participants are screened to meet a specific criterion set by the researcher and along with their willingness to participate in the study which is priorly known.  Once the participant fulfills the criteria, they are invited on a specified date, time and venue for the research.  At the chosen shopping venue -- a grocery or watch or apparel store, the participant is given a task of buying the product to understand their approach and the thought process involved in purchase process. 

During the study, the researcher briefs the participants and accompanies him in their shopping tour.  Here, the researcher will have a checklist of activities to be noticed right from the choice of location, the relevant aisle the participant chooses in the store, products/brands picked, reactions to the packaging or the display, the amount of time spent on the aisle, brand positioning, whether the participant seeks help from the staff’s in the store etc. The researcher will also conduct an in-depth interview to gain more insights on their lifestyle and attitudes. 

The respondent’s permission is also sought to record their responses with an audio/video clip to review and analyse to derive the insights.  Technology also plays a key role in this research process; the use of X-Ray specs and cameras is found to be innovative and accurate in recording the participants responses to have a better understanding of the customer’s buying decision journey.  The customers may use the personal camera to capture their buying process for a better understanding.

To conclude the accompanied shopping research is to understand more about the non-verbal behaviour of the customer in-store. Right from how they choose a specific brand, how store layouts influence them in making a purchase decision, how the packaging and design attract them to buy the product, how they react to instore displays, how they approach the staff. These aspects can give a researcher more insights in understand the customer compared to the other modes of data collection.

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