At-Retail Metric Studies Ramp Up for Spring

  • As industry anticipation has been building that key industry players might finally hone measurement tools to help craft a long-need at-retail metric, announcements from both Nielsen In-Store (the new unit of VNU), and POPAI regarding the next phases of their respective retail market research initiatives is heating up interest in the heart of the spring conference season.
  • As initially launched, the two groups' metrics efforts were both different and complimentary in their approach. The POPAI study attempts to study shopper engagement, showing not just where shoppers moved within a store, but also what they did right before they bought. It attempts to show the purchase "trigger", and so it seeks to measure response to marketing/advertising. The Pioneering Research for an In-Store Metric (PRISM), a consortium of advertisers and retailers led by P&G and Wal-Mart under the auspices of the In-Store Marketing Institute, made some progress on the counting issue last year. This system initially used infrared technology to track shoppers in stores, in an attempt to define "opportunity to see" parameters. But both initiatives are now evolving in scope–and remain complimentary not competitive in approach.
  • Speaking at conference at GlobalShop in Las Vegas in March, George Wishart, global managing director, Nielsen In-Store, announced that the PRISM consortium is now preparing for a May 07 launch of PRISM II, the second phase of PRISM. (Last Dec. 6, the Consortium named Nielsen In-Store division as its syndication partner.) Wishart outlined the essential differences between PRISM I and PRISM II. While the first PRISM initiative established that an in-store GRP could be constructed using correlation between sales and "opportunity to see", no useful data was mined–it was really more "a test of the system" according to Wishart. But PRISM II will, according to Wishart, "scale the initiative, provide richer data, and provide data at store level. " PRISM I, using bi-directional sensors, measured store traffic against sales; PRISM II will use bi-directional sensors plus "new technologies" (unspecified due to proprietary rights) to measure store traffic and also "in-store promotions" i.e. measurement of in-store displays, signage, digital messaging, etc. (But Wishart added that PRISM II is not about compliance testing per se. The system will attempt to measure what is in the aisles and on shelves in terms of promotions, but will not measure the "compliance" of a particular campaign or promotion.) Also key to PRISM II will be its 26-week duration, so that "seasonality" can be measured.
  • The May national rollout will involve F/D/M (food, drug, mass merchandise) retailers who are part of the PRISM consortium. (Original consortium members were Albertsons, Kroger, Walgreens and Wal-Mart and manufacturers 3M, Walt Disney, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Miller Brewing and P&G.) Consortium members will get data immediately, with syndication in 2008 as the ultimate goal.
  • PRISM I involved four retailers, in six markets. PRISM II has a goal of involving sixteen retailers. PRISM is still recruiting to meet that goal.
  • Wishart, in response to audience questions at his GlobalShop conference, said that shopper engagement measurement was not part of the scope of PRISM.
  • "We want to build the foundation first... and any shopper engagement study can "overlay over our data". Measurement of shopper engagement is indeed what POPAI (the Global Association for Marketing at-Retail) has in its sights. POPAI announced at GlobalShop that Shopper Engagement Metrics field trials have begun in the United States. With the first field trial completed in the United Kingdom, POPAI is expanding and applying lessons from their research in the US trials.
  • The key objective for POPAI’s research is to be able to provide marketing management and media buyers with measurements that are consistent with other advertising media; specifically how engaged shoppers are with the advertisements. POPAI and a coalition of manufacturers, retailers, media buyers and content creation agencies have collaborated to determine measurements and methodology, with the goal that the new standards will be measured on a continued basis via a syndicated source.
  • The ongoing project incorporates the use of technology including small cameras and video software to quantify levels of consumer involvement. The use of this technology will, according to POPAI, be able to count shopper entry, gage traffic flow, provide gender and age group statistics and classifications, and deliver measurements of where shoppers sustain visual contact throughout their store visit. This will allow retailers and marketers to gain access to details of what impacts the consumer. The software will also be used to develop thermal floor maps of shopper pathways illustrating hot and cold spots in the store and its relationship to the various in-store categories.
  • Marketing at Retail Audits will be carried out in each of the stores where a framework of different categories will be created in order to analyze, cross reference, and compare each individual item. Shopper Engagement metrics will be published in the public domain and will include GRP, Reach, Frequency, and Visibility/Engagement.
  • Dick Blatt, president and CEO, POPAI said “This is pioneering research, particularly the investigation into engagement visibility. POPAI has formed a new Industry Advisory Council which will do much to credential marketing-at-retail. It is a great opportunity to shape the way the industry is able to measure itself and to enable better planning and tracking performance.”
  • POPAI is seeking interested parties to join the Industry Advisory Council.
  • The Shopper Engagement Metrics trial is the first in POPAI’s multi-step vision to position the at-retail medium for the future. Other steps in the vision are to develop standard measurements for long term branding and Return on Investment.
  • Dick Blatt of POPAI has announced that interim results from the American field tests will be outlined at the POPAI Industry Leadership Conference, in St. Louis, June 7-8.
David Keene is a publishing executive and editorial leader with extensive business development and content marketing experience for top industry players on all sides of the media divide: publishers, brands, and service providers. Keene is the former content director of Digital Signage Magazine.