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3 Steps to Maximizing Your Investment in Shopper Insights

by Sarah Gleason , 19.03.2013

Finding new ways to get the most out of shopper insights is a perplexing issue for today’s retailers and manufacturers. Most feel they have plenty of data and information (almost to the point of overload!)—but many still grapple with how to get the most out of the insights they have invested in, let alone where to move forward.

This dilemma is clearly apparent from our most recent GfK FutureScope research. The overwhelming majority of our manufacturer and retailer respondents (92%) agree on the the importance of insights as the foundation for successful in shopper marketing. Yet most don’t feel they are up to the task. Just half of the organizations in our survey said, “My organization does a good job in connecting those insights.” Only 39% said they are good at insight-led selling. And 34% said they are effective at translating shopper insights into winning shopper marketing activation.

Translating insights into action requires a consistent and rigorous approach across the organization. Based on our experience, here are three best practices to get the most out of shopper insights and translate them into winning actions.

1. What You Know and Don’t Know

Start by doing an insights inventory. This allows you to know in concrete terms what you really know, both relative to tribal knowledge and fact-based knowledge. Tribal knowledge has its place. It can be very important since experience counts for a lot. But you want to be sure when you are making decisions using tribal knowledge that it is called out and recognized as such. An insights inventory will also help you better understand where your outages are in terms of what you don’t know. And it is a great way to see how traditional and leading-edge insights blend to fill your insight gaps.

2. Mine Existing Resources

Really powerful insights come from “connecting the dots.” How many times in your career have you commissioned a research study, considered the learning from that one study, but – unfortunately – placed the study on the shelf?

Instead, take multiple relevant studies, and link them to what else you have. Connect the dots by starting with data observations (the “What”) and connect them to determine the conclusions and implications (the “Why”). What does this mean for your business?

Connecting the dots does take some skill. When you think about the “What,” it’s all about efficient data gathering. You don’t want to boil the ocean. You want to identify the critical questions you want answered and then focus your data gathering on what is most relevant. To get to the “Why,” it’s about finding patterns in the data and identifying meaningful implications that you can translate into the priority actions for your business.

3. Begin with the End

Similarly, when considering new research, begin with the end in mind. Ask yourself these important questions:

• What am I going to do differently as a result of this understanding?

• What is this knowledge worth to my business?

• How am I going to prioritize my own time?

• How will I focus on this work, relative to the value it will generate for the business?

Some final thoughts: Be sure to involve those who ultimately need to bring the results to life. Cross-functional collaboration is absolutely essential—not just in sharing your insights with the others, but in getting them to be part of connecting the dots. It is critical to uncovering implications that can play out across the business, not just in terms of having a nice study. Plus it really elevates the likelihood of integration across the entire business team. Most importantly, it enrolls the key stakeholders, elevating the stakes for everyone who now owns a part of the outcome.

Sarah Gleason is Senior Vice President of GfK Shopper & Retail Strategy; contact her at sarah.gleason@gfk.com.

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