By Brynn Winegard
Food Retailers: Moving Products From Farm to Fork Requires Consumer Brains to Make the ‘Buy’ Decision in Your Stores
Obvious and simple, right?
So why aren’t products flying, in mass quantities, easily, unquestioned off your shelves?
Authors, scholars, and retailers alike have attempted to understand how and why it is that the same consumers will answer one way in-person or on a survey and do something else at-shelf.
To their frustration, those serving consumers often found that consumers would respond to a survey or focus group question one way about a buy decision (e.g. “I would definitely buy that, for sure, yeah”), but would ultimately make very different decisions once they were standing at-shelf (“I didn’t even notice it there to be honest, I guess I decided I really wanted other stuff”).
The discrepancy between consumer self-reported survey data and actual shopper behaviour long puzzled the best of market researchers:
- Maybe the survey instrument was skewing responses?
- Maybe the statistical sample was unreliable?
- Maybe the focus group moderator asked questions the wrong way?
Why do consumers make different decisions at-shelf than they indicated they would on the survey or in the focus group? Something mysterious and interesting happens in the conversion between ‘prospective consumer who is self-reporting likelihood of a future purchase’ and ‘actual shopper who is deciding on purchase choice for themselves and family, in-situ, in real time.’
Who was lying, the data or the consumers?
Recent advances in brain science and a better understanding of how the human brain truly makes consumption decisions helped explain this mysterious phenomenon: as it turns out, survey responses are answered with a person’s (mostly) conscious brain, while shopping and purchase decisions are largely decided by the subconscious brain.
Continue reading this article on the Ontario Pork website.
Brynn Winegard also teaches the Schulich ExecEd program: