The current pandemic has fundamentally altered shopper behavior. Behavioral shifts are multi-dimensional with many expected to remain as we all work through this crisis. To help contextualize these impacts, we have used our shopper behavior expertise to provide insights for future strategic discussions when your planning horizon shifts to a more, longer-term focus. Here is our perspective on potential behavioral impacts on merchandising.
In the pre-pandemic world, the average shopper would engage with 12-15% of the 100+ available displays in a typical store. Displays are primarily perimeter based and clustered near higher traffic zones (end caps, Dairy) or in transition zones with average purchase times ranging from 10-30 seconds. The combination of these factors usually causes shoppers to stop, dwell, and aggregate around displays, particularly larger ones.
However, our recent in-store observations since the pandemic outbreak shows social distancing is “overriding” traditional display behavior as shoppers try to maintain a safe distance among each other. This task mindset is dramatically reducing browsing which is impacting display engagement. Standalone displays in high traffic areas have been observed to be shopped less and now become traffic flow encumbrances. Endcap engagement is down as shoppers look beyond the displays to the next aisle to ensure proper distancing requirements.
THE NEW NORMAL
While social distancing impacts on merchandising should lessen as the pandemic subsides, merchandising must fundamentally change in the new normal to address its lingering effects. Store level merchandising strategies will need to facilitate a shopper’s ability to effortlessly maintain a “safe” shopping distance. The days of a high volume of perimeter displays that cause higher shopper density & dwell times will be far less effective.
HOW TO WIN
As you start to move past this current challenging period and look at what things you need to do to “win” post pandemic with merchandising consider the following:
LET US KNOW IF WE CAN HELP
Explorer has several tools to assess early-stage designs via VR as well as in-store observation/survey tools to assess any in-store merchandising ideas you are considering.
Marc Inkol is the founding partner at Explorer Research. Prior to founding Explorer Research, Marc has twenty years of experience working for tier one companies such as Maple Leaf and Kraft.