Market Research at the DS Smith Impact Centre : Tracking Shopping Behaviour

The holistic studies, which DS Smith conducts in cooperation with renowned market research companies, provide authentic insights into the buying behaviour of shoppers and their experiences with brands at the point of sale.

At the DS Smith Impact Centre in Erlensee, brand manufacturers can have their packaging and displays scientifically tested for advertising effectiveness. All aspects of the shopper experience can be investigated - from the design of packaging and displays to their placement and the effectiveness of multi-sensory approaches.At the Impact Centre of DS Smith, eye-tracking studies enable brand manufacturers to obtain authentic insights into shoppers' buying behaviour at the point of sale and thus validate packaging and placement decisions.

In contrast to conventional market tests in supermarkets or chemists, the test persons can be observed in the realistically simulated retail environment of the Impact Centre without disturbing factors by means of eye tracking and video recordings and can be asked about their test purchases, habits and preferences in individual interviews immediately afterwards. The offer of DS Smith is met with great interest by brand manufacturers such as GlaxoSmithKline. As it is possible to carry out the shopper analyses both under constant test conditions and with far less time and resources.

Our Impact Centre offers an exclusively available, standardisable and at the same time realistic retail environment and thus ideal conditions for market research studies

 - explains Martin Greb, Creative Consultant and Impact Centre Manager at DS Smith.

"At the facility of DS Smith in Erlensee, brand manufacturers can examine the effect of their products, packaging and displays at ease and under constant conditions, excluding the public and competitors. During the test purchases, the shoppers' eye movements and the duration of their gaze are recorded using eye-tracking glasses. In addition, video recordings document the behaviour of the test persons. The evaluation of the data in combination with a subsequent survey of the shoppers provides reliable information on a wide variety of questions. The prototype with the highest market potential as well as the optimal placement and presentation on the retail shelf can be determined in this way. The display and packaging strategists of DS Smith cooperate closely with renowned market research companies to develop, conduct and evaluate the studies. It is usually the brand manufacturer that selects the institute.   

Recently, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) took advantage of this opportunity. At the Impact Centre in Erlensee, the global healthcare company investigated which packaging variant on the shelf helps the shoppers to orient themselves more easily or makes them pick up toothpaste more frequently. Ralf Matje, Insight Manager at GSK, is enthusiastic: “At the Impact Centre of DS Smith, we can carry out field studies faster and with fewer resources than in real retail markets. The location offers everything we need for our market research - from the characteristic shopping atmosphere of a typical retail environment to the necessary technology and facilities for interviews.”

There is no need for the elaborate approval procedures as required in traditional market tests in the retail sector. The same applies to the ongoing customer activities and the associated disruptive factors and restrictions. “The Impact Centre also shows clear advantages over only virtual shelf tests, which considerably limit the multi-sensory experience of the brand,” emphasises Anja Röhrle, Marketing and Communication Manager at DS Smith. 

Because here the test persons can perceive displays and packaging with all their senses, just like in a real supermarket.

The realistic retail environment, including warehousing and logistics, visualises all touch points of product packaging and displays: from the packaging process through warehouse logistics to the sales floor. According to Greb, a visit to the Impact Centre gives brand manufacturers the opportunity to find new approaches for optimisation and innovation within their supply cycles. “The basis for this is the extensive knowledge of packaging trends and developments in retailing we provide them here," explains the Impact Centre Manager. In his view, the psychological buying habits of the shoppers and their behaviour at the shelves play a decisive role. “Therefore, we are all the more pleased to be able to offer market research studies at the Impact Centre and thus create additional added value for our customers,” Greb says, “since the sales areas in retail trade are limited and the variety of products is growing inexorably. Those who know where and how shoppers are most likely to choose their own product have a clear advantage.”