Paid focus groups and online surveys are the best-known methods of conducting paid market research. Though taking part doesn’t always involve just talking. Assisted shops, or the more snappily titled ‘shopalongs’, are an increasingly popular way of a brand gaining feedback and finding out why people shop the way they do. An assisted shop involves someone joining you on a shopping trip and learning about the decisions you make when shopping. Whilst a verbal explanation of the way you shop is helpful, actions often speak louder than words. Here are some guidelines on what you can expect if you take part in an assisted shop.
How do assisted shops work?
An assisted shop is very simple. A researcher accompanies you whilst you go about your shopping trip, observing what you do and the decisions you make, but without interfering. They may ask you some questions whilst you browse, but they won’t attempt to influence you in any way. By observing your shopping habits first hand, the researcher can capture all sorts of things that they might not have learned using another method of paid market research, such as a focus group or online survey.
What exactly are they trying to learn?
The researcher will closely watch everything you do in the store, from where you go first, the way you walk around the shop, what catches your eye, to making a purchase. They will observe the way you make your way around the shop, what is important to you about a shopping experience and whether the retailer is providing it, how you feel about the layout of the store, what you think the store is doing well and what you think it could do better. Creating a good shopping experience for a customer means you’re more likely to buy something from a well-organised, attractive shop than a messy, disorganised one – so this type of paid market research is very important to a brand.
What’s the format?
An assisted shop usually takes between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on the size of the store and how in depth the research is. The location of the shop you’re visiting will be chosen depending on how convenient they are for you, so you don’t need to worry about having to travel any great distance to take part. As with all paid market research, you will receive an incentive as a thank you for your assistance, which generally ranges between £40 and £150 – again depending on the length of the shopalong.
Assisted shops and technology
Assisted shops go a step beyond the usual interview-based market research methods. They replicate real life shopping experiences and allow your behaviour to be observed in the moment. Just as in every other area of our lives, this type of research has been affected by new technologies, meaning that you may not be ‘physically’ assisted on your shop, and may have a digital assistant instead. Using mobile technology to log customer journeys through pictures, videos, texts and checklists is becoming increasingly popular and may be a more effective method. You are likely to feel more relaxed and therefore act more naturally, giving the most authentic insights to the way you shop.