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Inside Retail & Wiser Solutions

Crowdsourced shopping: the secret weapon in optimising in-store FMCG sales

In the fiercely competitive fast-moving consumer goods industry, keeping up to date with competitor activity at the retail store level is even more critical than the raw data of shipments to retailer warehouses and wholesalers. 

The secret weapon? Crowdsourced mystery shopping where consumers nationwide monitor in-store activity and report back to a central source for analysis that can be vital in shaping manufacturer campaigns, especially at key peak-sale seasons such as the upcoming Christmas-New Year period. 

In the post-Covid world, there is evidence consumers are less loyal to brands than before – and with the current cost-of-living crisis impacting Australians, the perception of value for money is shaping consumer behaviour, especially decision-making at the point of sale. 

“Now more than ever, brands need to be aware of how consumers view their products on shelves in stores – how they are merchandised, how they are priced and especially how shoppers are reacting to promotional activity,” explains Laurie Wespes, VP Apac with Wiser Solutions, a global specialist in commerce execution. 

“It is critical for FMCG companies to be proactive, not reactive,” says Wespes. 

An invaluable tool in understanding consumer behaviours in the grocery aisle is the deployment of crowdsourced mystery shoppers which Wespes likens to the “eyes and ears inside stores” for brands. They provide real-time, affordable insights into merchandising, what is happening on store shelves, shoppers’ behaviour, promotions by competitors and other intelligence almost impossible to curate without in-store visits. 

“Crowdsourced mystery shoppers can support a brand’s field teams capturing critical data at scale.”

Wiser Solutions creates Share of Visibility reports by assembling data and feedback from crowdsourced mystery shoppers, segmented by categories, sub-categories, manufacturers, brands, promotional mechanics, and even pack types. 

Likewise, promotion intelligence data compares and assesses the share of voice brands have in retailer media, monitoring catalogues, newspapers, emails, websites, social media, and circulars. 

“It is important for brands to understand their share of voice and to track ongoing and historical promotions,” says Wespes, who has teams specialising in vetting and analysing promotions.

To illustrate the impact of crowdsourced shopping Wespes and her team have shared the results of research undertaken in the snacks and treats category of supermarkets in Australia ahead of the festive season – which is timely given manufacturers and retailers alike are already well preparing for the next Christmas-New Year peak. 

“The battle for visibility – both in-store and in retailer media – is fierce for manufacturers battling in the snacks and treats categories as they all try to win shoppers’ hearts for seasonal gifting and entertaining occasions,” she explains.

Underpinning the value of detailed research and analysis, here are three quick examples of how the measurement of competitor behaviour in a category by Wiser Solutions can identify insights into behavioural trends. 

  • In December 2021, salty snack brands tended not to increase their in-catalogue exposure from mid-November to December, however, their share of in-store display tripled during that period, with customers driven into stores by off-location promotional investments made to increase their share of visibility in-store. 
  • In the confectionery category, the winning manufacturers were those who activated festive and gifting assortment which helps them benefit from a large share of visibility in-store and catalogues alike. In December 2021, chocolate accounted for 70 per cent of catalogue space in the gifting and seasonal segment. 
  • Below-the-line investments reflect the willingness of shoppers to trade up over the festive period, so manufacturers should rethink their mix of displays and catalogue ads to achieve a higher share of premium brands. A Wiser Solutions study during Christmas 2021 found that 60 per cent of shoppers planned to upgrade to premium snacks to impress their guests.

“Strategy is awesome, but…”

Andrew Campbell, MD at Heineken Lion, says FMCG companies might adopt awesome strategies for rolling out and promoting new products. “But the best strategy in the world doesn’t really count for anything unless it’s being executed properly.”

Sometimes manufacturers or brands can find themselves “flying blind” in terms of what is happening in stores, so using data compiled via crowdsourced shopping can make a huge amount of difference in determining if strategies are working. 

“Wiser closed that gap for us and allowed us to see what’s being executed not only by us but also by our competitors.”

“It’s a super fast extension of our team and our eyes and ears,” adds Nick Jones, head of category & shopper at Frucor, another company to use data compiled by Wiser. “It has allowed us to get our hands on real-time data from real consumers in real-life environments.

“These are real insights leading to real actionable results.”

To learn more about Wiser Solutions’ retail execution solutions, take a look at the company’s website