Mobile News Mix

Major Retailers Will Shutter 3,500 Stores in 2019. Here's How Retail Research Can Understand What Comes Next.

Posted by MFour on Mar 19, 2019 6:00:00 AM

“Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” was a hit ballad for Whitney Houston. “Where do disenfranchised shoppers go?” is an increasingly important question for retail-sector market research as store closures continue to disrupt consumers’ familiar purchase paths. Each round of closures is an inflection point that puts displaced shoppers’ spending and brand loyalty up for grabs.

To win the battle to retain or pry away disenfranchised shoppers after a location closes, brands need fast, reliable data and insights into exactly who has been displaced, where they’re going now, and why they’ve taken that path. The stakes are high, with 3,500 store closings expected this year, according to RetailTouchPoints.

To find, connect with and understand these displaced customers, your best way forward is to combine observational mobile location-visitation data and mobile survey data.

Start with a validated, first-party market research panel that’s large and diverse enough to represent relevant populations of the disenfranchised. Once you’ve taken that crucial step, here are tips on how to proceed.

First challenge: Identify the displaced consumers.

  • Solution: Always-on mobile location tracking records and archives 500,000 daily visits by opted-in consumers to the top 1,000 U.S. retailers, plus an additional 250,000 daily visits to other commercially-significant locations such as entertainment venues and transportation hubs.
  • Result: Researchers quickly identify consumers who have made past visits to now-closed stores and can continue to observe their movements for changes in path-to-purchase patterns. 

Second challenge: Understand where displaced consumers are landing.

  • Solution: Continue always-on tracking of validated disenfranchised shoppers in the weeks or months after a store closure, closely observing for any changes in their brick-and-mortar store-visitation patterns.
  • Result: Obtain location insights into what they do next. 
  • Insights Opportunities:
    • Who remains loyal by switching to another store in the same retail chain?
    • See who’s in play by comparing pre-closure and post-closure visitation patterns. Those who are shopping around are important targets for further inquiry into how they can be influenced.
    • Identify shoppers who have switched loyalties as a result of a store closure and are now shopping mainly or exclusively at a competing store that’s a short distance from the one that closed.
    • See which displaced shoppers have stopped visiting any store in the category. Are they shopping online instead? And at whose eCommerce site?
Third challenge: What’s the “why” behind affected consumers’ observed post-closure visitation patterns? 
  • Solution: Mobile surveys targeted specifically to validated consumers in each behavioral segment - new store, same retailer/switched to a competitor's store after closure/trying different stores/stopped shopping at brick-and-mortar stores in the category. 
  • Result: Useful consumer understanding that helps drive actions and decisions on a number of fronts.
  • Insights Opportunities:
    • The data and insights could inform a variety of marketing efforts, including advertising, discount offers, upgrades of retailers’ apps and online-stores’ attractiveness and functionality to capture dropouts from brick-and-mortar stores.
    • Retailers also can inquire and gain insights into which products and product categories are most important to disenfranchised shoppers as they decide where to go now.

Many other retail problems and opportunities that require fast, trustworthy data will benefit from advanced mobile research solutions. The key inputs that power all these research situations are a large, top-quality, first-party consumer panel that’s engaged and willingly opted in for behavioral tracking as well as surveys.

By coloring observed location data with surveys, and validating the surveys with location data, researchers can gain insights they need to help their brands and clients succeed amid the disruptive changes impacting the retail industry.

Topics: mobile tracking, mobile data, survey data, market research panel, purchase path, always-on data, observational data, retail research

Gen Z Is Even More Diverse than Millennials, and it Takes a Mobile Research  App To Reach Them

Posted by MFour on Feb 11, 2019 1:55:56 PM

Pew Research Center’s recently published series of deep dives into the demographic characteristics and social views of American Post-Millennials (also commonly known as Gen Z) is worth a look for consumer insights professionals. With the oldest Gen Zers moving into post-adolescence, they most certainly are on marketers’ and market researchers’ radar as a key cohort of consumers whose characteristics, lifestyles and attitudes demand understanding right now and on into the future. Among other things, Pew notes, this is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history.

The oldest Post-Millennials, who are turning 22 this year, are getting college educations and/or have begun to enter the work force.  Also, the Gen Z multitudes who are still in their childhood are driving a great deal of purchasing by their Millennial (ages 23 to 38) and Gen X (39 to 54) parents. Pew’s studies continue to compile data documenting similarities and differences between these generations.

The defining demographic reality of the late 2010s, in which the oldest Gen Zers and the youngest Millennials are coming into their own as young, independent consumers, is the dominance of smartphones as the pervasive tool consumers of all ages use to learn about products and services, buy products and services, and express and widely circulate their opinions about products and services.

But almost incredibly, only 54% of consumer insights professionals who responded to GreenBook’s most recent GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) report said they are using “mobile first” surveys to obtain consumer data. What’s worse, “mobile first” is not the kind of mobile research the industry should embrace. It fails to reach consumers in their true comfort zone, which is the mobile app. As eMarketer has documented, mobile consumers prefer the app environment by six to one over accessing and exchanging information on the mobile web,” which is where “mobile first” research takes place.

Although the GRIT report barely mentions mobile-app research, forward-looking marketing and consumer insights professionals at major brands, market research firms and advertising agencies are increasingly aware of and on board with the mobile-app research methodology. They recognize the speed, timeliness and quality of data collected from a first-party consumer panel of mobile app-users, and can see that it’s the pathway to research success in the Smartphone Era.

Scores of major brands and firms partner with MFour, often with the specific aim of reaching Millennial and Post-Millennial consumers, the leading adopters of mobile app activites (although Generation X and Baby Boomers are also rapidly making up any generational gaps in mobile app use).

Look at this visualization of MFour’s panel characteristics and judge for yourself the kind of coverage and engagement you can expect when you need to reach consumers in the key 18- to 49-year-old age groups. Pew notes that Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history – 52% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic, 14% African-American, 6% Asian and 4% other.  When it comes to consumer panel diversity across Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z, MFour an Surveys On The Go®are already there.

In the 2010s it has become a watchword among most consumer insights professionals that Millennials, Hispanics and African-Americans are “hard to reach” for market research. But if you’re smart enough to connect with them through an advanced mobile research app, that simply isn’t so.

Topics: african americans, millennials, market research, Gen Z, hispanic consumers, consumer panel, mobile consumer panel, mobile data, mobile consumers, Pew Research Center, demographic representation

Just How Big Was Black Friday? We Followed Shoppers from Store to Store to Find Out.

Posted by MFour on Dec 5, 2018 12:13:32 PM

Black -1

Retailers’ and product manufacturers’ bottom lines hang in the balance on Black Friday. We followed validated, first-party consumers from store to store during their buying journeys on the big day, and here’s some of what we discovered:

  • Consumers did their part for retailers by going bargain-hunting instead of going to the gym.
  • With their refrigerators stuffed with Thanksgiving leftovers, they understandably avoided grocery aisles.
  • Faced with those leftovers at home, they were not entirely averse to eating out, especially at chains commonly located in shopping malls.
  • However, as KFC can attest, quick-serve meals featuring poultry with biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy can be a hard sell the day after Thanksgiving.

Here are some highlights that can be observed on MFour’s consumer-journey visualization tool, Path-2-Purchase® Platform. It continuously tracks the daily location visits of 2.5 million first-party U.S. consumers who have downloaded the Surveys On The Go® mobile research app. Members doubly opt in to allow location tracking via their smartphones across 12.5 million locations, enabling them to receive in-store and after-visit survey opportunities for location-based research.

The figures compare observed retail visits on Black Friday, Nov. 23, with the average number of visits to each retailer or restaurant over the five previous Fridays from Oct. 19 to Nov. 16.

  • About those absences from the gym: top fitness chains experienced drop-offs of 20% (at Anytime Fitness) to 66% (at Equinox). LA Fitness was in the middle with a 38% decrease in foot traffic.

Instead, shoppers flocked to the stores en masse, and many retailers saw foot traffic soar by factors of two, three, four and five over their recent Friday averages. However, to see those results you will have to wait for in our 2018 Black Friday Study webinar on December 12th at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern (which you can register for below). In the meantime, here are some other insights we gleaned from Black Friday:

  • It was a more normal Friday at club stores: Costco saw a 12% increase and Sam’s Club a 10% boost.
  • If working off calories in a gym wasn’t on most consumers’ agendas, they were certainly thinking about getting active in the future: Dick’s Sporting Goods boosted its foot traffic 483% above recent Friday norms, and Bass Pro Shops enjoyed a 474% upsurge.
  • It was generally a down Friday for quick-serve restaurants, with Taco Bell, McDonald’s and Subway off 13% to 19% from their recent norms.
  • But some restaurants that typically are inside or in close proximity to malls succeeded in refilling stomachs that had gotten over their Thanksgiving heroics. Johnny Rockets (278%), Cinnabon (147%), Sbarro (89%) and The Cheesecake Factory (55%) were busier than their usual Friday.
  • And chicken didn’t seem quite so alluring as usual after a day of poultry overload. KFC’s foot traffic was down 41% and Chick-fil-A was off 19% from recent Friday averages.
  • Grocery stores were down, with Albertsons, Kroger and Winn-Dixie stores averaging an aggregate slacking off of 31% from their recent Friday norms.

While it’s well worth targeting, tracking and observing demographically profiled consumers’ visitation patterns, there’s more to be done to understand their motivations and their shopping experiences. The key is being able to locate and survey them in real time, during or just after a shopping visit. That will be the subject of “Black Friday Consumer Study – the `Why’ Behind the Buy,” a webinar MFour is offering Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern. To sign up, just complete the form below.

 

Topics: mobile research, black friday, geolocation, Path-2-Purchase™ Platform, mobile data

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