By Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis
COO & Head of Insights, Retail Doctor Group

It has been two years since Covid first hit, and retailers are still caught in a whirlwind of unexpected trends and crises such as supply chain issues, shaky consumer confidence, the Metaverse and the ever-changing consumer behaviours.

The pandemic has overturned retail, drove the closure of physical stores, and resulted in vulnerability for the future of the in-store experience. These abrupt movements have left numerous retailers scrambling to effectively serve customers. Digital-first and omnichannel retailers have revolved more easily, however, retailers that focused on physical store and face-to-face engagement have struggled to respond.

To overcome these emerging challenges, research is a starting point for just any retailer. Organizations that prioritised research and insight-driven strategy could quickly reimagine their approach to create a distinctive customer experience and thrive in today’s environment.

Great innovation and creative thinking start with research and insights-driven strategy. Research, Strategy and Planning go beyond simply spotting trends in the retail industry. It’s more about understanding why consumers do what they do, and how they do it. That way, you can shift to a strategy that’s proactive rather than reactive and anticipate the next change in the market more efficiently.

Analysing not only the market trends but also consumer insights and human behaviour is critical if you want to set yourself up for success. In the end, “the market” is made up and is driven by humans. This was the unified experience amongst the excellent finalists of the independently judged Australian Retail Innovators Awards 2022.

Let’s dive into some success stories of some of our stellar Finalists where research and strategy have led to innovative retail solutions.

  • Barbeques Galorestrategically utilised insights into consumers’ emotional drivers to create a unique and omnichannel loyalty program. The program creates a loyal connection to their customers at each stage of the journey by targeting the sense of togetherness and the meaning of the BBQ experience to people. This has generated impressive trading results.
  • Anytime Fitness vigorously researched into their target customer to understand their behaviours, attitudes, and values. The brand recognised that emotional fitness is now just as important as physical fitness for most Australians in the post-pandemic world, with the same-old representation of a “healthy” body (slim, toned and tanned) no longer appealing to their audience. From there, the team was able to create a truly differentiated brand campaign, “Any Body, Any Time” that sets the brand apart from their competitors, focusing on promoting individuality and inclusivity.
  • Kmart embraced cutting edge AWS Cloud technology to deliver a leading customer experience and streamline its supply chain management. With vigorous research and adoption of technology, the retailer successfully removed the online queuing feature on the website on peak days and launched an ‘online exclusive’ range of homeware and furniture.
  • Muffin Break responded remarkably to their recent consumer insights research that highlighted an opportunity for convenient in-home consumer products, by launching at home muffin mixes. The launch of the new products has led the retailer to close the convenience gap and remain relevant with the customers whether it be at home or in-store.

For the future, research remains a pivotal part of the best retailers’ growth trajectory as they aim to continuously explore the power of research and insights to enhance the customer journey and turn challenges into opportunities.

The next normal is still taking shape, and customer expectations will continue to shift. Retailers that focus on research and consumer insights will continue to thrive and will strengthen their ties to customers. So, if you want to step up your game, gathering consumer insights is the step that comes after market research. It analyses why things are happening and gives you a lot more information to base your next move on.

At RDG Insights, with the use of consumer neuroscience, we help retailers and brands predict what is expected in 2022 and beyond. More importantly, we articulate what retailers and brands can do to be on the front foot to deliver what their customers need both on a functional and emotional level.

Find out more about how our experienced experts and proprietary Limbic Insights™ methodology have helped clients connect better with their customers here!