What are Behavior Labs?
Rajeev Sharma
May 10, 2022

Real-world “Test & Learn” Collaboration Platform

A “lab” is a place to discover new facts and test new ideas. Behavior Labs from VideoMining (VM) are designed to be just that – to discover new facts about in-store shopper behaviors and test new ideas for influencing shopper behaviors. However, this “test & learn” environment is not simulated or virtual but consists of real stores with behavioral insights from real shoppers on real in-store trips.

Behavior Labs Program (BLP)

Behavior Labs consist of a set of stores carefully selected in partnership with a retailer along with the AI-powered behavioral analytics platform from VM that is deployed based on a specific need. The patented analytics platform enables retailer-specific shopper insights and in-store testing with precise behavioral feedback.

A Behavior Labs Program (BLP) with a specific retailer helps in learning about shoppers from that retailer or in addressing brand-specific questions from the behavioral responses, providing insights not feasible through just sales or survey data. The program helps in rapidly testing new ideas including ones that are brought to the retailer by CPGs, enabling accurate fact-based evaluation. The test and control stores are dynamically selected for each project from a large pre-qualified set of “lab” stores to meet the objectives of the specific A/B test or custom study.

BLP enables better collaboration between CPGs and the retailer using the “test & learn” process for improving sales performance and building shopper loyalty. The program help in aligning all retail strategies with the shopper, ultimately benefitting them with a better in-store shopping experience.

Learning in Real Stores

Action speaks louder than words. Insights through shopper surveys or simulations can be helpful but cannot accurately capture how shoppers actually behave in-store as they make their purchases, influenced by a multiple of factors and store conditions. Leveraging real stores and data from actual in-store behaviors, Behavior Labs are designed to help incorporate the true “voice of shopper” in any aspect of category or brand strategy. It can help detect and quantify shopper “friction” that results in lost sales, such as a hard-to-shop category, unattractive assortment, pricing barriers, poor packaging, out of stock, crowding and other purchase barriers.

Testing in Real Stores

Testing in actual stores allows the presence of all the “real world” factors that can impact performance that is impossible to recreate in a virtual reality (VR) simulation or surveys. To truly evaluate the worthiness of a new idea, you need to “observe” behavioral responses of shoppers in their natural setting. By incorporating all the conditions that can lead to the success or failure of a new idea, in-store test results can be much more reliable.

The resulting feedback goes far beyond just sales data, pinpointing the performance along the path to purchase “funnel” and revealing specific insights for improving engagement and conversion rates. Very often simple implementation tweaks (e.g. changing placement, adding signage) can turn around a struggling idea into a commercial success. Further, the implementation process used in the in-store tests through BLP can help in evolving a “playbook” for optimizing the complete “path to purchase” for a wider rollout.

Behavior Labs help understand the holistic impact on shopper behavior from new product introduction, promotions, secondary displays, planogram resets, signage, trial adjacencies and packaging changes.

Behavior Labs Network

CPG manufacturers and their agency partners (design, marketing, merchandising) can access a growing network of Behavior Labs from VM that go beyond the retailers that participate in VM’s decade-long industry shopper insights programs in Grocery and Convenience channels. Building on experiences with 100s of custom studies and tests in all channels – the Behavior Labs network is meant to cover all channels including Mass, Drug, Dollar, Club and selected specialty retailers like Pet and Liquor. For retailers that are already in the shopper insights programs, the metrics from Behavior Labs can be indexed to the industry numbers, providing additional insights from benchmarking and shopper trends from 1.6 billion+ in-store trips tracked annually by VM.

Examples and Case Studies

Here are seven masked examples of how both retailers and CPGs leveraged VM’s behavioral analytics to successfully address a variety of issues, as it is conceived for Behavior Labs.

  1. Evaluating Digital Shopping Assistant (A Mass Retailer): A digital kiosk was being tested by a mass retailer to help with the beauty products aisle. VM behavioral data showed poor usage and impact. But along with the evaluation, the behavioral data showed that even though the kiosk was in a high traffic area, it was being encountered after shoppers visited the relevant categories. Changing the position to a less busy area but the right side of the aisle dramatically improved the performance with overall lift of 10% in sales for the represented products providing the ROI to justify the kiosks. This led to a wider rollout of the kiosks while also incorporated other specific improvements from the insights on the demographics and behaviors of kiosk users.
  2. Impact of Multiple Displays on Conversion (CPG with at a Grocery Retailer): A beverage CPG wanted to understand the impact of having multiple in-store locations for a beverage category—from warm shelf to natural/organic to open-air coolers—on overall conversion. VM behavioral analytics revealed that more locations actually improved conversion for that beverage category (unlike some other benchmark categories). Shoppers greatly preferred additional location options and were more likely to buy on impulse. This provided the CPG fact-based evidence to prove the value of placing its product in specific (multiple) locations around the store, creating a big win with that retailer.
  3. Understanding Shopping Patterns of Pharmacy Customers (A Drug Retailer): A chain store drug retailer wanted to understand how the Pharmacy customers interact with the rest of the store: Do they visit other aisles after drop-off & pick-up? VM behavioral deep dive of the pharmacy customers, showed that pharmacy visitors rarely stray from their primary path to pharmacy. The retailer subsequently tested new store layouts and merchandising strategies near pharmacy waiting areas to reach the key shopper segment.
  4. Category Reset Evaluation for Shoppability and Conversion (A Grocery Retailer): A major grocery retailer leveraged VM behavior analytics to evaluate 16 major reset in the previous year to understand the impact the resets had on category shoppability and conversion rates. The analysis showed that 40% of the reset decisions would have been reversed if the additional behavior KPIs were utilized for the evaluation. VM analysis also attributed 3.9% overall financial impact to the imperfect reset decisions using only sales data without considering the category shopping experience and walkaway rates.
  5. Testing a Solution Center (A CPG with a Mass Retailer): While testing a CPG’s “meal solution” end-cap concept at a mass retailer, in the accompanying intercept surveys, 73% of shoppers stated that they use the display regularly, yet VM behavioral data showed that only 7% of shoppers actually picked up items from the end-cap! VM data also showed that those who engaged with the end-cap just picked up an individual item rather than the intended meal combo. The insights were used to tweak the messaging and also change the location of the end-cap to provide the right exposure that eventually made the concept successful.
  6. Evaluating Packaging Re-design (A CPG with a Grocery Retailer): A major repackaging for a popular food brand was launched after successful VR tests. After the re-branding, the sales dropped substantially. The insights from VM behavior data revealed that the packaging was not engaging shoppers – even after they got over the initial confusion. In fact, there was barely any interaction with the new features highlighted in the packaging. In-store testing before the launch would have helped in changing the poor outcome.
  7. Shopper Decision Process (A CPG with a Convenience Retailer): A CPG wanted to understand the combined shopping decision process for Snacks and Food Service buyers in Convenience; what are potential areas of growth and cross-purchase opportunities? VM behavior analytics help build multi-category CDTs for different dayparts. Among the key discovery was the fact that Sweet Snacks is considered with both Fresh Bakery and Food Service, which have more buyers than any other group in convenience. Learning this, the client pursued strategies for capturing this large buyer base with new displays and packaging options.

In Conclusion

Today both retailers and their CPG partners are under increasing pressure to find innovative ways to convert precious store traffic into buyers, while also continuing to invest in omni-channel strategies. Everyone seems motivated to try a wide variety of levers in marketing, merchandising and store design to enhance shopper experience and improve sales.

However, not having accurate ROI measurement and real-world “test & learn” capability handicaps the progress. New investment decisions are too risky without establishing a clear ROI.

Behavior Labs can really help both retailers and manufacturers meet their strategic needs for standardized ROI measurements and a flexible “test & learn” platform. A shopper-centered collaboration with fact-based behavioral insights can help unlock the opportunities in the changing retail landscape, creating better in-store experiences and conversions.

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