Our attention is constantly being pulled right, left and centre. Some research even suggests that the average attention span is now just eight seconds. If you’re a food brand trying to win the battle of the supermarket shelf, it begs the question: how do you make your product stand out on shelf for today’s modern, multi-tasking consumer?
Tessa Stuart is a self-styled ‘shopper stalker’. She works with food and drink brands like Innocent, Itsu and Graze. Her job is to understand consumers, their thought processes and behaviour when they’re browsing and shopping in-store. That means actually standing in supermarket aisles and interacting with real-life shoppers.
She observes them and asks about the products that are right there on the shelves in front of them and finds out what matters to consumers. Everything from the name to the packaging, to the design, size, labelling and beyond. She recently joined us on the Froghop webinar to dispense some expert advice on the best ways to stand out on the shelf when launching a new product.
Tessa has huge expertise when it comes to analysing shopper behaviour and what triggers them to buy a new product. Shoppers, she says, “shop fast, routinely, scan quickly and will navigate towards the products that they know using shortcuts and pack cues”. They know roughly the colours they are looking for and the product’s placement on the shelf (hence why shoppers absolutely hate it when shops move things around).
Make it easy for customers to understand
When it comes to launching a new product, her number one piece of advice is: “the shopper will default to their normal purchase unless you make it easy for them to choose you, so you need to help them get your product quickly.” In a nutshell, because you’re asking the shopper to take a risk on you, your first port of call is to make your packaging attractive enough to a) get their attention, and b) make them feel comfortable enough to deviate from their normal purchase.
But this, of course, is no easy feat. The important thing to note here, Tessa says, is “shoppers have very little time and attention”. Whether it’s texting while browsing, listening to music, squabbling with their partner, or grappling with their kids, you have a very limited space of time in which to catch their eye.
Attracting the attention of today’s shopper
The answer may seem simple, but it doesn’t make it any less important. You need to help the customer understand exactly what your product is. As Tessa says: “Consumers don’t really give a fig about your story at the beginning, they’re interested in what the product is going to do for them, and what they can do with it.”
Customers take cues from the types of packaging that you use, she explains, so your first goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to know what exactly what you offer as soon as their eye lands on it. Especially as supermarkets are often a confusing environment, with shoppers bombarded with messaging and information literally at every turn. So how do you get them to notice your product? Tessa says:
- Help people quickly understand what your product is. They won’t stand there and bother to puzzle it out.
- What’s the benefit to them? Convenience? Taste? Health? Whatever it is, spell it out.
- Give people something to remember your packaging by. Brand names take ages to sink in or be used by consumers – they recognise your brand by location, colour, shape.
Strong graphics, strong messaging and clear communication are all things you must also have in your artillery when launching a new food or drink product in a market that is highly competitive. This is particularly important given just how many new food and drink products are launched every year!
What to do to get your product noticed
It goes without saying, creating a product that is truly impactful and eye-catching – and getting it to sell, takes a lot of hard work. Luckily, Tessa has broken down exactly what you need to do to get your product noticed. This includes everything from what shoppers look for on the shelf, what puts consumers off trying something new and what makes them remember a brand and want to buy them again.