WindowOn... The Rise of the Discounters (2014 Issue 19)

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The rise of the Discounters the essential guide to shopper trends from Shoppercentric

What does the term ‘discounter’ mean? Have shoppers changed their habits? Discounters are becoming contenders for the regular grocery shop Can the discounters really change the retail landscape? Plus new Thought Pieces, The Gossip... and all the usual regular features and revealing interviews

ISSUE ISSUE nineteen nineteen march 2014

march 2014



MARCH 2014

This edition of WindowOn is based on quantitative research among adult shoppers: 1,000 online interviews among shoppers aged 18+ Nationally representative quotas were placed on gender, age, social grade and geography.

ISSUE ISSUE nineteen nineteen march 2014

march 2014

PUBLISHED BY: Shoppercentric EDITOR: Lisa Hutchinson DESIGN: Mike Higgs


We welcome ideas for future articles and reports. Guidelines on our preferred format and style are available from Lisa Hutchinson e:

Š Shoppercentric 2014 All copyright is vested in Shoppercentric unless expressly stated otherwise. No permission is granted for reproduction, use or adaptation of the material, save as to provide for under Statute, and any such use must be accompanied by the appropriate accreditation.


WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014

We are proud to lead the way in Shopper Insight in the UK. We are continually conducting our own trends research on current industry related issues and are very happy to be able to share our findings and opinions.

Welcome... Trends Research... Just what is a discounter? Danielle Pinnington,

Founder & Owner, Shoppercentric

Welcome to another edition of WindowOn... We all know how shoppers have had to become more savvy in their shopping habits. And we’ve also all seen the increase of discount supermarkets around the country, as savvy shopping includes shopping around for a bargain. But this Christmas put the discounter trend in sharp relief. Previously the discounters have seen their market share dip at Christmas as shoppers tend to trade up, however this year Aldi announced a record share of 3.2 per cent. If they can change our behaviour at Christmas, then it is clear discounters are here to stay. So we felt it was high time we took a look at this trend from the shopper perspective. Which retailers do they think of as discounters? How is this channel impacting on their day to day shopping repertoires – what role does it play versus other retailers they use? And how should the mainstream retailers react to the challenge? You may not yet have discounters on your business radar, but you can be sure plenty of other businesses do. We hope you enjoy the headlines of our latest trends research here – and you can always contact us for more details if this report raises some interesting questions for your business.


We look at what shoppers think a discounter is.

Shopping at discounters... Want to, or need to? Shoppers have started to change their shopping habits despite the economy recovering.

The march of the discounters


Aldi and Lidl have seen a growing market share. We look at what impact this could have.

I’m not a discount shopper, get me out of here!


The discounters still have some work to do before they become serious contenders.



Thought Piece One Innovation: the last hurdle We take a look at NPD and the role shoppers can play. Thought Piece Two Eyetracker UK We speak to Iain Janes to see how eyetracking has developed and what the future holds.



Regular Features... The BIG Picture... Shopper Talk... The Gossip From the High Street... Meet the Team


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8 13 14 15 16



Just what is a discounter? We’ve all done it….thrown a word casually into conversation, secretly hoping that we won’t have to explain what it means. Is ‘Discounters’ another one to add the list? It’s a term we all use and we may THINK we’re all clear who they’re talking about: Aldi and Lidl, right? But who do SHOPPERS think of as discounters? By Claire Pearson

Life was so simple in the old days: you had corner shops and the High Street shops, names we’d grown up with: Woolies, Safeway, Wilko’s. And then something changed. Supermarkets started getting bigger. Then something REALLY strange happened: shops with German-sounding names arrived. And they didn’t even sell Kelloggs cornflakes or Heinz baked beans. That all feels like a long time ago. Aldi and Lidl’s first stores in the UK opened in the early 90s. In twenty years, they’ve both built up a portfolio of over 500 stores. And although their market share looks low compared to that of the Big Four, they’ve been consistently swiping sales from the Big Four for years, rattling Tesco enough for them to introduce their own illfated ‘Britain’s biggest discounter’ range. Aldi and Lidl’s growing reach and market share suggests that for some, they have gone beyond being a discounter and that many shoppers now see them as supermarkets in their own right; perhaps not one where they can and will do all their shopping (only 44% say Aldi is


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a good replacement for a supermarket, with Lidl scoring 31%), but still a regular part of their shopping repertoire. Around half of our sample considered them to be discounters, versus 80% considering Poundland to be a discounter. In shopper’s minds, “discounter” appears to imply everything at the same price, and a mix of food and non-food, real bargain-hunting. Interestingly, only 4% of our respondents said Aldi ‘was a great place for a bargain’, versus 46% for Poundland. of these stores would you consider Q Which to be a ‘discounter’? cut % Clear candidates

Poundland 80 99p stores 75 Poundworld 64

% middle ground Aldi 52 Lidl 49

Iceland & Wilkinson on a similar footing, albeit with a different product focus

% lower attribution savers b&m iceland wilkinson farm foods the range

37 34 30 29 27 12

So the term ‘discounter’ is clearly open to misinterpretation and it seems not everyone is speaking the same language.

THOUGHT PIECE ONE Written by Iona Carter

Innovation: the last hurdle

When a brand chooses to extend its repertoire into category areas it has previously not occupied… think of the cereal category where brands such as Kelloggs and Alpen are moving into porridge and granola.

At the back of every brand manager’s mind, whilst finalising the plans for a new product launch, must be that nagging question: “Will this be one of the ones that succeed, or one of the failures?” closely followed by “Will I be able to update my LinkedIn profile with an impressive NPD success story?”

All too often, we see the answer to the question of in store placement being governed by commercial or brand driven rationale rather than shopper driven rationale. The retailer will often dictate location, based on space planning needs; the brand owner, on the other hand, might have a go at securing space next to the parent brand in order to create a visible brand block. But who’s to say that either of these is the location that will drive the most sales?

Sadly, the balance of probabilities is such that the answer is more likely to place the grand idea in the ‘fail’ bucket and render the CV unchanged; it is estimated, after all, that 80 – 85% of new products don’t make it. But why is this? There are, of course, a number of reasons, not least of which is that it simply isn’t possible for every new launch to succeed: there is a finite amount of physical or digital “market space” within which these products can exist. In addition, there is often a massive hurdle to jump in changing what can be deeply ingrained shopper and consumer habits when it comes to adopting (not simply trying) a new version of something they’ve grown used to consuming or having. But there are a number other reasons for failure that are perhaps more easily addressable, many of which can often go unaddressed until it’s almost too late. One of these is the important question of where a new product should be placed in store… and I don’t just mean “on an end-cap for the launch period”! This is often the last hurdle when it comes to finalising those all-important launch plans, and the decisions taken can spell success or failure for the fledgling product waiting to be launched. It is an issue of particular importance under at least two specific scenarios: When a truly innovative, game changing, or category disrupting (or all three) product is being launched… think of new innovations in soft drinks such as all the different water based or “benefit” drinks that have suddenly appeared over the last few years; think of innovations in the interior paints category, such as Dulux’s Light & Space; think of the beer category where many of the mainstream lager brands are bringing out flavoured lagers.

Take the common desire to brand block, for example. Sticking Alpen porridge next to Alpen muesli on shelf, as we have seen in some retailers, does indeed create a more authoritative brand block than would otherwise be the case. However, it also presumes that the shopper is more loyal to the brand than she is to the type of cereal i.e. that brand is closer to the apex of the cereal decision tree than is cereal type. Looked at another way, it presumes that a muesli shopper can be tempted to switch to a totally different cereal proposition altogether, as long as it’s coming from her favoured brand. Now, I have no proof of this, but I suspect that these presumptions are not entirely correct. If I’m right… if type of cereal holds sway over brand, then placing Alpen porridge next to its porridge brethren could well drive stronger sales as the product would be placed in a section of the aisle where shoppers with a need or desire to buy porridge are likely to be. All of this is of course hypothetical, I could be quite wrong about the cereals… but the point I hope to make is that a clear understanding of the shopping process & the purchase decision priorities will ultimately drive a more informed decision regarding store placement. In cases where the innovation goes beyond current category boundaries, then understanding shopper expectations of placement by looking at potential substitution options can help inform the most suitable adjacencies. So to conclude, there are of course a myriad of reasons why a product can fail but we at Shoppercentric believe that at least one of those reasons can be alleviated by including shopper understanding, as well as consumer response, in the innovation funnel.

WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014



Shopping at discounters... Want to, or need to? We’re officially out of recession, the economy is recovering, we’ve seen record new car sales and house prices are rising. So is all this good news bad news for the discounters? We doubt it: shoppers appear to have changed their shopping habits for good. By Susie Spencer

Lidl recently reported that between 2011 and 2012, the proportion ABC1 customers coming through its doors increased from 25% to 41% and Kantar data showed 50.1% of all British households stepped into a discount retailer in the autumn. Our data supports this: 51% of ABC1 shoppers in our sample said they have started to use discounters that they didn’t before, versus 46% of C2DE shoppers. So whilst the economy appears to be off the critical list, shoppers don’t seem to be feeling it. With wage freezes and benefit cuts, ANY inflation is bad news and 78% of our shoppers told us they had been adversely affected by the current economic environment, whether as a result of falling income or higher household costs. And it’s not just the less affluent who are experiencing this.


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Most people love a bargain: or to be precise, 57% of our sample said they ‘love to hunt for bargains whether money is tight or not’, with very little difference in results according to social grade: 54% of ABC1s agreed versus 60% of C2DEs. But surely there’s a difference in attitudes between those savvy shopping as a leisure pursuit, for the thrill of bargain-hunting and those coping with realities of genuine financial hardship? Throughout our survey, it was noticeable how close attitudinally the ABC1s and C2DEs were when asked their views about the discounters. Only when we came to the nitty-gritty of ‘need to’ shop at discounters was there a significant difference. 56% of C2DE shoppers agreed with the statement “I have to make savings when I shop – I have no choice” versus 45% of ABC1s. And although the overall message is fairly positive for discounters, there’s also

Respondents views on income and household costs 57




38 34


Our income has reduced due to benefit cuts

Our income has increased

I haven’t noticed a change



a noticeable difference in those saying they “don’t like the environment in discount stores and would rather shop somewhere more pleasant even if the prices are higher”: 23% of ABC1s agreed versus 15% of C2DEs. Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves? It seems many of the higher earners within our survey agree with this sentiment as 59% of our shoppers with a household income over £50K claim to go wherever the best prices are – and roughly one in three of them are shopping regularly in Aldi and Lidl respectively. And it seems they don’t care who witnesses them striving to save money – with only 13% of this income group preferring not to be spotted shopping in a discounter (the same percentage as those earning less than £15K).

Our income hasn’t changed, but our household costs have gone up

6 7


Our income hasn’t changed, but our household costs have gone down


Our income has reduced due to a job loss


Our income has reduced due to pay freeze / pay cut / cut in hours



Of course the squeezed middle are far from immune to economic pressures but our findings would seem to support the case that financial imperative is not the only explanation for recent successes in the discount channel. In fact 31% of our shoppers overall think that shopping in discounters is more fun than in regular supermarkets and 47% like the fact that they can find products here that they can’t elsewhere. We’ve all known about savvy shopping for years and discounters have picked up on this zeitgeist with great effect. But to deny the depth of their proposition – beyond rock bottom prices for cash-strapped shoppers – is to do discounters a great disservice. This is clever retailing which appeals to a wide audience: so competitors should underestimate them at their peril.

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The march of the discounters Aldi and Lidl are the darlings of the retail scene as we kick off 2014, in the wake of an impressive Christmas performance. There was a time when they could be dismissed as the poor man’s alternative to mainstream supermarkets, a slightly unsavoury proposition for most and at best taking crumbs from the big boys’ table. By Sharon Hodgson Aldi and Lidl are reaching a wide audience (%)

Ever bought from 49


47 43 48 29

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20 17 15


Regularly visit

None of the above


The Range




15 11 18 11 08 05 12 99p Stores



32 34 34 28 29

Base: All Shoppers (n-1000)


23 05


Many will point out it’s been a long time coming. We Brits have taken a while to catch on to the delights of no-frills, cut-price shopping while our German cousins have been shamelessly at it for years. So what’s changed and why are so many shoppers now crossing these new thresholds?

58 41 38 35 32 28


Within our UK shopper sample, 65% are familiar with and could access an Aldi store and 64% a Lidl – and many do just that. A striking 47% have ever bought from Aldi and 34% claim to shop there regularly; 43% have ever bought from Lidl and 28% claim to be regular visitors. There’s certainly something afoot.

Familiar with and can access 70 68 65 64


However their growing market share, at the expense of the major multiples, now demands serious attention as they appear to be building up a head of steam.

Of course the recession provides an easy answer, but a little too simplistic in our view. Naturally shoppers want to make shrinking household budgets go further when times are tight but they also want value for money and an acceptable shopping experience. Few of us are prepared to endure the torture of an unpleasant store with poor quality products, however cheap they may be. Aldi and Lidl’s clever positioning is to convince us that we’re not compromising on the things that really matter. Their retail model may be on the basic side, but their products are great – and certainly worthy of some lip-smacking Christmas advertising. And that positive message seems to be sticking. When we widen our scope from Aldi and Lidl to so-called “discounters” more generally, 40% of our shoppers think that the quality of products has improved in discounters; 76% think it simply makes sense to shop there. And as for the possible stigma attached to being caught in the act? Only 14% of our national sample of shoppers would rather not be spotted in a discounter – a proportion that decreases with age (from 28% among 18-24s to just 4% among 55-64s). And far from feeling self-conscious, many discounter shoppers appear to wear the badge with pride, recommending others to join them. Word is spreading and acting as an amazingly powerful influence in the discounter channel, with 43% of customers having been encouraged by others to take a look.

So does this strengthening performance mean that the historically marginal “discounter” channel is moving into the mainstream, rivalling major supermarkets for main shopping missions, head to head? Or is this success story down to a growing tendency for shoppers to cherry pick based on price? Our research suggests there is some truth in both. 70% of our shoppers agree that they shop wherever the best prices are, 60% claim to split their grocery bill across stores and a striking 83% are prepared to make the effort to shop around for the best deals: with older females proving the savviest of the bunch. So undoubtedly Aldi and Lidl are receiving visits from these selective deal-seekers. But typical usage of these stores among customers reflects a much deeper connection than the occasional supermarket sweep for bargains. In fact 44% of Aldi’s customers consider it a good replacement for more mainstream supermarkets (31% for Lidl) and 4 in 10 of both stores’ customers consider them a good solution for meeting regular top-up shopping requirements. Aldi & Lidl are serious contenders to meet regular grocery shopping needs (%) A good replacement for supermarkets Good for regular top-up shopping Good for a few items but no many Great place for bargain hunting







13 04

21 09

Base: All who shop here (Aldi n - 465; Lidl n - 425)

WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014


thebigpicture J Crew

By Danielle Pinnington Just before Christmas J. Crew opened their UK flagship on Regents Street. It seems this is an important move for the business: ‘It’s the next chapter in our growth and our future. It’s an important flagship location on arguably one of the most important streets in one of the most important locations in the world,’ said Millard Drexler, J. Crew’s chairman and CEO (source: WWD). So it felt worth a visit. It is certainly a good example of how bricks & mortar can deliver ambience and service. The ambience is typical of J. Crew in the USA: calm and spacious, clear lines of site across the store; quality fixtures and fittings; clothes well merchandised to give ideas and inspiration for outfits; dual siting of key lines, to demonstrate their versatility; and plenty of changing rooms. Most of the staff who spoke to me (they all at least said hello to me!) seemed to be American, with that easy way of making sure you are comfortable without overwhelming you. It may not be the most innovative store on Regents Street, but it delivers the brand well, and is a great addition to a prime shopper hotspot.


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WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014



I’m not a discount shopper, get me out of here! Headlines throughout the industry press declare that the discounters have got the Big Four quaking in their boots as they win over shoppers’ hearts and minds. Their growth is impressive of course, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that Aldi’s and Lidl’s market share is still small and, despite an aggressive store opening programme, many shoppers remain resolutely immune to their charms. By Kristen Davis

Looking past all the hype, there is still a sizeable segment of shoppers who value choice and retail experience over price-point and don’t want to make a deal with the discounters. The barriers to this channel have not been lifted for everyone and our survey clearly highlights that trust remains an issue for some: 31% think that the quality in discounters is lower than in mainstream supermarkets; 39% are suspicious of brands in discounters that they have never heard of; and 33% are sceptical that they are getting a good deal here when compared with supermarket prices. And whilst we have observed a significant proportion of shoppers becoming discounter “converts” over recent times (49% of the shoppers in our survey say they have started to use discount stores recently), this extended reach also exposes some areas of weakness that


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evidently need addressing to ensure that firm roots are in place for continued strong and sustainable growth. 22% of our discounter shoppers say they actually don’t like shopping in these types of stores but simply do so for the savings – hardly the most ringing endorsement in terms of retailer loyalty. So Aldi and Lidl can’t afford to bask in their current glory just yet and still have some serious work ahead of them to strengthen their position further. Store environment is an obvious focus for attention, as shoppers appear to be consciously trading-off the quality of their in-store experience in order to secure savings – some more happily than others. Younger shoppers in particular seem least comfortable in this setting at present, with 26% of our shoppers aged 18-34 claiming that they would rather pay a little more to shop

somewhere else. And though the stigma of shopping at discounters is doubtless fading, it is interestingly the younger generation of shoppers who would least like to be spotted in a discounter environment: 26% of 18-34s saying they would rather other people didn’t see them shopping there. It seems more of a charm offensive may be needed in order to secure fans among this newer breed of imageconscious customers.

& beauty among them – showing potential for future growth. Lack of choice and brand presence is clearly still a sticking point for some and an ongoing challenge for this retail model.

Younger shoppers seem least keen on the discounter experience

Categories ever bought at Aldi and Lidl show clear core strengths

Strongly agree



% Aldi

I don’t like the environment in discount stores and would rather shop somewhere more pleasant even if the prices are higher. 19 17 13 12 10 10 06 03 03 03 18-24





I would rather people didn’t see me shopping in discounters. 19 09


17 08 25-34

11 06 35-44

We cannot deny that Aldi and Lidl have enjoyed standout performances of late and have succeeded where others have faltered. But this type of shopping experience will never be for everyone.

08 02 45-54




% Lidl

Fresh fruit & vegetables



Tins & packets of groceries Biscuits, sweets, crisps & snacks Dairy products







Bread & bakery



Fresh meat & fish



Beer, wine & spirits



Soft drinks / water



Household cleaning



Toiletries, health & beauty



Ready meals



Base: All Shoppers (n-1000)

Base: All who ever buy from Aldi & Lidl (Aldi n - 465; Lidl n - 425)

When we turn our focus to what shoppers are buying in Aldi and Lidl, it appears that customers can be fairly selective in the categories that make their list. Staple dry goods are, predictably, a key target here (bought by 65% in Aldi and 59% in Lidl) and at the treating end of the spectrum confectionery and bakery items are also popular choices, also bought by around 6 in 10 customers. Half of Aldi’s shoppers have bought Beers, Wines and Spirits, reflecting a growing reputation in this area, and around 7 in 10 Aldi and Lidl shoppers buy fresh fruit and vegetables here – a powerful reflection of quality perceptions. But in contrast, other categories appear weaker at present – household cleaning and health

And while the buzz around discounters at present is creating interest and curiosity, UK shoppers are a notoriously fickle bunch. They will vote with their feet if product and store experiences are not up to scratch, so discounters will need to be at the top of their game to continue to impose themselves on our retail landscape over the long term.

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THOUGHT PIECE TWO Written by Penny Ericson

Eyetracker UK reliability – often because the technology being sold can vary greatly from eye tracking manufacturer to manufacturer. We aren’t wedded to any particular eye tracking manufacturer and are always open to looking at the next best kit to come out. Our current system was developed by the defence industry for fighter pilots originally!

Eye-tracking is one of the technologies that Shoppercentric offers its clients via a specialist partner – in this case, Eyetracker UK. But we were interested to see how eye-tracking had developed in the years since its first appearance within shopper research, and what the future may hold for it – and other technologies, so we asked Iain Janes, Managing Director to share his thoughts. This is what he told us: Since eyetracker’s inception in 2002, we’ve undertaken hundreds of eye tracking studies and as a result we’re one of the leading specialist eye tracking research companies in Europe. We use both mobile (e.g. in-store) and static (screen based) eye tracking to provide accurate in-depth analysis on how customers interact visually with products – where they look and their levels of cognitive engagement to provide real insights. I’d guess that around 60% of our business is in shopper research. It’s our belief that many of the technologies that are around in research – and specifically in shopper research – are frequently being used in the wrong environment and too many claims are being made about them. We’ve found ourselves increasingly involved with “mopping up” on projects where clients find themselves disappointed with the quality of output from some of the other operators in the field. Not all eye tracking is equal – in terms of quality of the systems, accuracy of calibration or


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There’s recently been a huge push to use biometrics or neurometrics because many people feel they are the “next generation” of measurements. If they’re used intelligently and you’ve got the people who really understand the data, you can get valuable data back out of it. But if you do use something like an EEG or a GSR measuring system in a shopping environment, there are so many outside influences that could be responsible for spiking the data it can be difficult to know how to interpret the output without real expert analysis from a qualified neuroscientist. Was it the packaging that they’ve just spotted, was there an announcement over the tannoy, or were they thinking about the row they had with their spouse earlier that day? We’ve even seen a galvanic skin response test that failed to detect that the respondent had burst into tears at one point!! Some of the metrics have more validity than others in my opinion, such as pupil dilation, which can be an emotional response. But for this to be meaningful, you have to have baseline data, and to be able to control the ambient light environment, as light is obviously the main cause of pupil reaction. In a shopping environment, you get all sorts of lighting conditions – so it can get difficult. However, because a by-product of our eye tracking is a measure of pupil dilation, we are exploring to see if there’s a way of monitoring and measuring ambient light variations in order that we can get some sort of reading from the pupil dilation data. The idea then would be to cross-reference that with the eye tracking data, but that’s work still in progress! At the moment at least, we believe that the biometric methods are best saved for a controlled environment rather than a real shopping experience. It’s not just about investing in the right equipment - you also need to be able to interpret the data. For most “real world” projects like shopper research conducted in real stores, eye tracking is best used as an ethnographic or qualitative research resource. Yes, you end up with some numbers at the end of

Shopper Talk... Real words from the high street. Brought to you from the keen ears of the Shoppercentric team...

An example of output from eyetracker

it, but the “respondent sample size” is definitely not of the magnitude usually involved in quantitative research. Although I have to say we are seeing larger budgets being allocated to projects with the ultimate aim to apply eye tracking in a quantitative way. So what makes a good eye tracking project? Having a comparison is a must, so for example, a control store and a trial store. But eye tracking works across the store and can be used to look at navigation and the shopper journey through store, engagement with products or POS, effectiveness of merchandising, layout and influences on shopper behaviour. The key though is to be able to interpret the eye tracked data and to understand which are positive fixations and which are not. Eye tracking is not a silver bullet methodology and often eye tracking in store works best when blended with other techniques eyetracking gives you the “what” but not the “why”. When eyetracking first became available as a commercial research tool, it was hailed as the “must have” methodology, but its popularity waned as the biometric tools emerged and were embraced by the research community. But more recently, eyetracking is back in demand and business is growing, perhaps because the outputs from the biometric tools have failed to deliver the promised insights because of the many challenges in using them not to mention the high costs involved. But I also think things will change again in the next couple of years, with new advances in technology like Google Glass perhaps commoditising the market churning out lots of eyetracked data without anyone really knowing what to do with it. For eye-tracking to continue to add value to insight, it has to be used intelligently.

I split our weekly shop between Aldi and Waitrose. Aldi for basics and with great quality and value, Waitrose for brands I want and can’t buy in Aldi. Waitrose is an altogether more pleasant shopping experience than Sainsbury’s and usually cheaper. You’ve gotta love (Wilko’s) logic – it’s the same as my logic – all the cleaning products with the chocolates – that’s my life in a nutshell! Maybe you can get something less expensive on the internet, but I want to see, touch and feel the products before I buy them. Even when I find something on the internet I come here to buy it, although it is more expensive here. It’s got to have been a man who decided to put custard powder next to Coco Pops. You know when you’ve got all those lovely boxes of Christmas sweets and biscuits, but they’re always on offer? It makes you wonder what the proper price really is.

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Compiled, conjured up & cobbled together by Lisa Hutchinson


Christmas lunch in Brussels How could we top last year’s Christmas lunch in Lille? Well the Eurostar beckoned us again and with a glass of champagne in hand we sped to Brussels and arrived in plenty of time to have an amazing lunch at Chez Léon, most of us devouring their famous mussel dishes. We then walked off the lunch and wine/raspberry beer by visiting the nativity scene and Christmas stalls in The Grand Place. We stepped into chocolate shops galore but the favourite amongst us was a shop called Pierre Ledent, specialising in macaroons where the shopping experience was likened to an expensive jewellery store. We then of course had to see the Mannekin Pis before finding a bar for some vin chaud ready for our return to London. A fabulous treat. Now where to this year? Paris?! Shoppercentric sports report Swimming: Iona’s daughter Catrin will be competing in the County Championships in March swimming in 10 races. We wish her lots of luck! Triathlon: After completing his first Ironman and cycling London Edinburgh London last summer Lisa’s husband Brett is taking this year a little more lightly by taking part in a London to Lands End cycle, running London to Brighton and competing in the ‘Forestman’ Iron distance triathlon. The gym: The rest of us are attempting to work off the Christmas chocolates by visiting the gym or attending the odd class!!...


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We thought we should promote what our previous Marketing and Operations Manager Alice Synge has been up to since leaving the Shoppercentric team. She started her online fabric and haberdashery store ‘Backstitch’ in 2010. Alice’s mission is ‘to supply stylish modern craft fabric and quality haberdashery to UK sewists’. As a keen sewer Alice concentrates on stocking fabrics that she would use and keeps her products modern and fresh. She is now embarking on entering the high street, opening her first shop at Burwash Manor at Barton in Cambridgeshire in March. Backstitch follows an increasing trend where online retailers are looking for as many ways as possible to market their products/services by obtaining physical premises to complement their existing web channel. Visit her website to be creatively inspired! Good luck Alice!

An Independent Retailer Perspective

A View from the High Street WC Maunders

Cheddar, Somerset Jon Barrett, Managing Director

A decade ago retailing in the Somerset village of Cheddar was far less challenging than it is today. The high street was full of independent shops: butchers, grocers, newsagents, sports, convenience stores, and pubs. All were thriving, and working in harmony. Today this has all changed. The high street is now littered with empty shops, and boarded up pubs - mainly charity shops and café’s survive. The recession has taken its toll, customer footfall has been declining rapidly, and with the potential arrival of a major supermarket in the village the outlook could be bleak. As the managing director of an independent builder’s merchant and DIY store in Cheddar I have steered the company through these changing times. A decade ago we had no competition in a thriving village where business was uncomplicated. Today we are now in a dying village with direct competition from another independent merchant and a national chain.

We had to make the decision to fight and diversify, or stagnate and die. Attempting to compete on price with the Nationals would be a difficult option, we could not match their buying power, and continually squeezing our margins would eventually destroy us. The other independent builder’s merchant are focused on the heavyside (primary building material), so rather than compete in this field, W C Maunders took the decision to focus on customer service, and the lighter side of our sector. Our flexibility allows us to offer the customers what they want, rather than what is convenient for the retailer. We may not be the cheapest, but the customer can dictate what and when!

Our premises were expanded allowing our product ranges to increase and improve our merchandising. Our staff are all experienced and intuitive, offering the customers advice and help when required. We aim to eliminate the fear factor for the inexperienced DIYer as they approach the counter with their query. We have also embraced internet selling, pushing our product through Ebay and Amazon, initially selling items core to our business, then broadening our horizons moving into camping and leisure goods, which are in high demand. This has resulted in an increase in our turnover, during an extremely difficult trading period. Plans for our future include developing our own website to process internet sales, now that we have fine-tuned the logistics of internet selling, dispatching and online customer communication. We will then encourage the customers currently shopping with us through other internet platforms to come to us direct, allowing us to increase margins, but not prices. As the economic climate improves, I believe there will be a huge upsurge in the DIY sector, so as a company we have used the quieter times to rationalise our ranges in this area, ensuring we are prepared for the sales upturn that is on the rapidly approaching horizon. In our bricks and mortar store customer service will always be our focus, ensuring that each customer is treated as an individual, with our service customised to their requirements, and offering an ever increasing range of products and services. A fluid retail environment is now constantly changing, businesses need to listen and adapt rapidly, or be overtaken by eager competitors.

WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014


meet the team... We are a small group of highly experienced shopper research experts and aim to lead the way in shopper insight. Between us we bring years (over 150!) of industry experience, gained both client side and within leading research agencies. We focus only on shopper research and are method neutral, using a bank of tools and techniques to uncover insights that are real and lead to tangible actions. Iona Carter

Director e: Iona has over twenty years of experience in shopper and retail research. She joined Shoppercentric in 2006 following several years leading shopper insight with Research International, most recently as Head of Retail and Shopper.

Sharon Hodgson

Director e: Sharon’s career started at Ipsos where she was instrumental in establishing the agency’s first Retail division. She led the Retail & Shopper specialism there for 10 years, also heading Ipsos’s Shopper Centre of Excellence for Western Europe. She left her role as Managing Director of Retail & Shopper Research in 2009 to join Shoppercentric.

Kristen Davis

Director e: Following several years as one of our Associates, Kristen joined us a permanent team member in 2010. She has significant experience in consumer trends and future thinking, including previous roles as a Trends Forecaster for Initiative Media and a Qualitative Director for Hall & Partners.

Lisa Hutchinson

Marketing & Operations e: Lisa has recently joined the team and brings with her 14 years’ experience in marketing and administration roles. She is responsible for project managing WindowOn... and promoting our industry presence.


WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014

Penny Ericson

Director e: Penny has extensive experience in brand & consumer, sports marketing /sponsorship and media research (agency & client). Previously Head of Retail at IPSOS, she is a full member of the Market Research Society and ESOMAR.

Danielle Pinnington

Founder & Owner e: Danielle spent her first 12 years as a researcher specialising in the world of NPD, branding and sales volume estimation. She rose to the position of Deputy MD at Research International before joining Incite Marketing Planning as a Board Director. Here her specialisim in shopper began to develop. In 2004 she took the decision to break out of the generalist agency world and set up Shoppercentric – and she hasn’t looked back since.

Susie Spencer

Director e:

Prior to joining Shoppercentric, Susie was Head of Research at Marks and Spencer and has over ten years of experience in shopper insight. She also has significant experience in brand and advertising research.

Claire Pearson

Director e: Claire has 10 years insight experience gained at Tesco, Cadbury and Sainsbury’s. It was during her time at Cadbury that she became a shopper insight specialist. Claire returned to retail in 2010, heading up a Sainsbury’s insight team guiding business and property strategy.

We lead the way in shopper research Shopper Insight... We work with the widest range of methodologies available; qualitative and quantitative, traditional and technological, pre-store and in-store. It’s our experience that allows us to pick the most appropriate methodologies to answer each brief. We work as interactively as possible with our clients, so regularly workshop our results with a wide client team to turn our insights into action streams. Whether the brief is about shopper behaviour or promotions strategies, fixture layout or range evaluations – our ambition is always to help our clients deliver bottom line growth.

Client Training... We design tailor made, interactive training sessions to deepen understanding of shopper insight. We use a variety of theory and practical exercises to really engage clients in how shoppers think right through the shopper journey. We explore a full breadth of key research techniques, where and how they are best used and how to best apply real shopper insight within the business.

Trends Research... We are proud to lead the way in Shopper Insight in the UK. We are continually conducting our own trends research on current industry related issues and are very happy to be able to share our findings and opinions at We are also invited to speak at a number of leading industry conferences each year. If you have recently seen us at an event, you can download our speaker charts from the website too.

Please visit for the full story WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014


thelastword... We thought we’d let our clients have the last word by telling you what they think of us... A very clear piece of work. This is the first piece of research I actually understand. Customer Insight Manufacturer

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the whole [workshop] session was great and enjoyable. Manufacturer that’s one of the clearest debriefs I’ve ever seen – and I’ve sat through plenty. Category Controller Manufacturer Thank you so much for such a compelling and inspiring proposal- it looks fabulous and is really clear in terms of the scope and deliverables. Head of Insight Manufacturer Everytime I present your data internally it is always well received – the team have real confidence in Shoppercentric’s expertise. Shopper Insight Manager Manufacturer We have definitely been implementing changes based on the learnings from the recent shopper research that you conducted. Brand Manager Manufacturer 18

WindowOn... Issue 19, March 2014

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