The UK spirits shopper journey is highly complex, with more points of shopper interaction than ever. Over the last few years, convenience culture, Omnichannel shopping, eCommerce, ROPO and other shifts have added complexity to the journey from discovering a brand to purchasing it. Shoppers demand experience, convenience and brands they know and love and suppliers need to keep up. With this increasingly complex shopper landscape, it’s getting more and more challenging to effectively target shoppers with marketing and connect the dots between hundreds of possible influential touchpoints, including ATL media investment, social, digital, in-store ads, at-shelf activation, loyalty programs, and more. This increasing intricacies between first and last touchpoints make tracking the P2P (path to purchase) difficult for marketers, as they are left to deal with big data and little clarity.
As a global company, Pernod Ricard covers different brands, categories, and markets. Combined with worldwide online and offline points of sale, tracking customers’ behaviour is even more challenging. Recently, the UK team decided to launch an extensive path-to-purchase study to map the steps of the shopper journey and support Pernod Ricard teams to act on shopper needs and behaviour. This was a joint project between Pernod Ricard UK, Centre of Excellence Consumer and Shopper insights and The Absolut Company (TAC).
The UK team started by asking key questions: Who is shopping where and why? What are their motivations? What are their needs? What touchpoints are they being exposed to and which has the most influence? No stranger to Pernod Ricard consumer and shopper insights projects, the boobook team were ready to take on the study and find answers to these questions. We reached out to the project lead in the UK, Laura Morisot, a Shopper and eBusiness Insights Manager, to find out more.
“My job is to represent the voice of shoppers within Pernod Ricard UK and doing a piece of research of this kind was critical to making that possible. We always try to make business decisions with our complex, omnichannel shoppers in mind to meet the goal of providing the right product at the right time in the places people need them,” Laura begins.
Though Laura and her team had a catalogue of historical shopper studies, they lacked a consolidated, in-depth view of the UK market and path to purchase. “We had a few pieces of research on different areas of interest, but nothing that gave us a clear picture of the UK shopper landscape and where our brands fit in. We wanted to feel the pulse of the shoppers and understand them and their journeys better,” explains Laura.
The comprehensive research consisted of three main phases and stretched over the next year and a half:
In this qualitative phase, we wanted to get a first view of the P2P (Path to Purchase) and differences between brand categories (whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, flavoured liqueurs, ready-to-drink, etc.)
The channel mapping phase consisted of a significant online quantitative survey (N=6000) to profile how different shoppers are buying spirits for different occasions, including how they navigate channels, retailers and online/offline, and their varying missions and needs.
The extensive online quantitative survey (N=5000) profiled the touchpoints shoppers are exposed to along their path to purchase, including identifying those which have the most impact on the end purchase.
Given that the study ran during the COVID outbreaks, it required flexibility. “The fieldwork happened in stages, allowing us to avoid UK lockdowns. It gave us more time to tackle the data phase by phase and really draw out learnings and engage teams, which was precious,” says Laura.
She doesn’t see COVID as a big hurdle. “It’s fair to say that the last few years have been atypical, but there’s mounting evidence that many of the shifts Covid caused in shopper behaviour are indicative of longer-term trends which are here to stay. This fact, alongside how we mitigated Covid impact as much as we could during fieldwork, means we’re confident these insights will be valid for years to come.”
The UK team had clear goals before launching this project. Of course, they also had assumptions. “This research re-affirmed some internal assumptions and historical strategies which previously had arguable points. We have renewed confidence behind these strategies, they were the right thing to do and we need to protect and expand them.”
Laura brings up two particular examples of unexpected insight. “One of the biggest learnings was around e-commerce shoppers, especially the difference in the profile of Amazon shoppers versus those shopping with the traditional grocery retailer’s online offerings. We used that understanding to evolve our strategy and communicate it to retailers. Another important revelation was understanding the difference in behaviour and touchpoint influence between standard and premium plus spirits shoppers. This gives us opportunities to target our shoppers more effectively and work with our retailers to optimize their displays and activation,” shares Laura.
After this comprehensive research, the challenge of sharing it with the business began. “Your research and insights can be the best-in-class, but if people aren’t engaged and inspired by the output they often end up being useless. We took a multilayered approach to delivering this project to make sure the right teams received the right information at the right time and in the right way. We worked with boobook on a series of successful webinars and followed up with workshops, consolidated “packs” on key topics and bespoke decks for strategic retailers to enable collaboration and allow them to get value from the findings too. We’ve had great internal and external traction behind the study and are really seeing the value of it. Even now, nearly 12 months on from the first delivery, we’re uncovering new insights within the data and bringing it to new partners,” shares Laura.
Over the last few years, Boobook and Pernod Ricard developed a strong relationship and an ongoing collaboration on many studies in different markets. There is a learning curve whenever you work with a new market or a brand, but boobook was ready to soak up all the information and go an extra mile.
Finding the correct answers to the critical business questions is boobook’s mission. Explaining complex things in a simple way is boobook’s expertise. “Nicole is a very experienced presenter. She walks people through the key insights with such ease and clarity. Considering this was a very complex project, she explained it through engaging storytelling making it accessible to everyone in the team,” says Laura.
Following this project, Laura has acquired invaluable knowledge about UK spirits shopper behaviour and their journey to purchase. We were curious to hear what advice she would give to the companies that are considering doing a P2P study. “In projects like this, there’s so much information that it can become quite abstract. Try to find relatable, real-life examples to back your data story. In our team, we always start our conversations with the reality that every one of us is a shopper, we can see ourselves or someone we know in every data point. That, and come with an open mind, shoppers are real people with interesting and complex drivers and motivations so prepare to be surprised,” Laura concludes.