Why you should chase customers into the parking lot

There are lots of ways to find out what customers think. Some approaches even run the risk of temporarily disarming shoppers.

“A lot of times I chase our customers out into the parking lot,” said one retailer speaking at a recent industry conference, the Summer Fancy Food Show. “I say, ‘hi, I’m not weird, I work here, and I would love to talk to you.’”

This strategy might draw strange looks from shoppers, but it’s a perfectly good way to get feedback. It shows how some retailers are getting more brazen in hopes of not missing any opportunities.

What are some other ways retailers are getting shopper feedback now? Here are a few other strategies mentioned at the trade show:

  • Focus groups
  • Store receipt-based surveys
  • Email surveys
  • Social media
  • Panel data

How does this impact the private brand side? The latest Power of Private Brands research from Food Marketing Institute cites some positive consumer trends:

  • Private brand influences where consumers choose to shop.
  • Consumers like and notice private brand variety.
  • Millennials are leaders in dollar and unit share spent on private brand.

For private brand retailers, there aren’t really bad ways to get customer feedback.

However, there’s a need to make better use of existing customer input, enhance that feedback, and really understand the big picture.

Private brand retailers typically have a range of methods to tap into customer opinions on products - from call centers to information about returns. Retailers need to determine how shoppers are reacting to private brand products within their own stores. This product feedback from consumers, combined with sales data, needs to be shared with suppliers to enable adjustments in real time.

Critical feedback enables suppliers to quickly correct a problem. On the other hand, positive feedback is important as well, because it confirms strategies and provides clues for future innovations.

Either way, when consumers reach out directly to a retailer, they should be thanked and told their input will make a difference. That’s a key to enhancing customer loyalty.

So let’s be clear: if you want to chase customers into the parking lot, you should be applauded. Just make sure it’s not the only way you are soliciting shopper insights.

Tags: Customer experience, Product insights, Consumer trust

David Orgel

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