Shape Emotional Responses to Sell More Food

August 11, 2010

find ways to differentiate on the selling floor, especially with high-gear savings mode still prevailing.

The arms-length relationships of retailers and CPG may soon bend at the elbow to build closer bonds – with each other, and in the end with shoppers. The common goal: find ways to differentiate on the selling floor, especially with high-gear savings mode still prevailing.

These aren’t likely the warmest or most sincere embraces, but they’re born of mutual interest to deliver what consumers would spend on when they generally don’t want to spend. To achieve this, B2B partners provide what the other side needs (such as more coordinated beverage and snack promotions between Pepsi beverages and Frito-Lay snacks). PepsiCo has been able to do more of this since buying its two biggest bottlers earlier in 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Beyond the fundamentals of keeping in-stock and promoting, there is growing trade interest in the science of eye tracking and neuromarketing for when shoppers come upon products, prices and merchandising at the shelf – as well as in-store TV, in-store radio and in-store kiosks. This science helps CPG to develop packages that truly stand out, and retailers to create impactful item flow and presentation. The more visible items are, the more recognizable, the more memorable, and the more they can sell. “The last two years have seen a surge in [the use of eye tracking]….Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, ConAgra Foods, Heinz, Kellogg and Procter & Gamble all use it,” wrote Brandweek recently.

That’s a positive trend, in our view at The Lempert Report because the food industry still suffers an enormous amount of product performance failures. Too few products ‘speak’ to shoppers, and elicit the emotional reactions that compel purchase. 

In our opinion, the retail sales of food products has become too much of a data-driven, functional exercise as practiced by most – with too little focus on the emotional sales triggers that could help land items in the carts of mission-driven shoppers. The use of eye tracking and neuromarketing could go a long way toward closing this gap. Still, both CPG product and package developers, and most retailers fall short of the Stew Leonard’s or Trader Joe’s engagement standards at the shelf. If more operators truly celebrated food and the shopping experience the way they do, entire categories could benefit.

Meanwhile, North American consumers will ring up $740 billion of transactions in self-service kiosks (such as DVD kiosks) in 2010, notes new research from IHL Group. As popular as these convenient, engaging devices seem today, “the rise of consumer mobile devices will have an adverse effect on many new kiosk installations within the next two years,” said Greg Buzek, IHL Group president. “The information kiosks will soon give way to the kiosk in the consumer’s pocket, with many consumers already doing price comparison shopping and reading reviews while at the shelf.”

The more consumers try to gain the upper hand with product and pricing knowledge, the more pivotal is the understanding of their emotional reactions to many controllable elements in the retail environment.