Our innovative retail and dining clients need to be more than in tune with the latest trends
They need to be one step ahead of the trends as they unfold. That’s why we focus on getting clients the high quality insight they need to truly understand their customers and the competitive landscape, both in the UK and overseas. From customer satisfaction surveys and profiling to location planning for retail success, our research helps clients identify and position their business for profitable growth opportunities. We also use bespoke software and tools to help clients make the right strategic and tactical decisions.
Our solutions in this area
Monitor performance of stores. Know what customers are saying. Know what's important to them. Focus on improving key elements of the experience.
Find out who your customers are; how they use you; what their attitudes and opinions are towards your brand.
Where does your brand fit within the competitive set of your category. How do you compare to others. What's the landscape look like!?
Where next? Plan your outlets and store locations for places they're most likely to succeed.
How are your stores performing? What's happening on the ground? How is the store roll-out / refurb programme progressing?
Bespoke research designed to answer specific business questions and guide decision making
Menu Optimisation Suite
Does your menu work as well as it could for your customers? A suite of tools to help you maximise ROI through menu design.
Voice of the Non-Customer
Maximise £ sales opportunity by identifying reasons for non-purchase
Maximise future £ sales opportunities by delivering retail experiences to inspire your customers
Some of our featured work
Understanding the customer journey and service style preferences in Casual Dining
When eating out we have different needs around how quickly we want our food to appear in front of us, often dependent on the location, occasion and circumstances. There’s an increasing appetite for a ‘fast-casual’ dining approach where customers have more control over the speed and style of service they receive, but typically they have to do a bit more of the work themselves eg. leaving the table to order as well as serve themselves for certain elements of the meal. Our client was keen to understand the relevance of a fast-casual approach to its existing full-service customers and set up a trial in some of its restaurants. Through a series of qual Accompanied Dining Trips and quant on-site interviews we were able to compare the two service styles directly in terms of relevance, revisit intention and overall brand impact . The insights generated gave the business a clear idea of whether to, and where to, roll out the fast-casual approach along with granular feedback around improvements needed at each key touchpoint across the customer journey.
Thinking big, keeping focussed
Usage & attitudes in Casual Dining
Our client was looking to build future strategy for two brands within its portfolio, based on strengthening brand equity and fixing brand issues among relevant segments of guests for each individual brand. We employed a traditional U&A approach online to generate broad market understanding with an in-built ‘deep dive’ on the two specific brands in question. The outputs provided clear market segmentation and targeting strategy; guidance on brand positioning opportunities and how this would translate in menu changes as well as clear media and communications guidance – all ultimately translating into a strategy that would attract new guests, bring back lapsed guests and build loyalty among existing ones.
Please Sir - I want some more
Food benchmarking in Casual Dining
Keeping the menu refreshed is critical to the success of any casual dining restaurant brand. Not only does the menu need to look good, but it needs to feature dishes that really taste good, as well as genuinely deliver to customer expectations. We regularly spend time putting customers in front of the chefs on-site for a major family-oriented casual dining chain to monitor and benchmark the performance of completely new dishes as well as renovated recipes. By pre-recruiting customers and potential customers into the restaurant for controlled product testing we help identify the winning (and losing) dishes and give the development team the steer they need to keep their customers coming back for more.
Alive and kicking
Understanding the role of stores in a multichannel world
The rapid rise of online shopping and the reported problems in the high street are creating doubt about the future role of retail stores and their benefits to consumers. Our client – an appointment booking technology company – wanted to understand consumers’ perspectives on the ever-changing retail landscape. In particular, what the benefits of stores are compared with online shopping and what would drive people to stores more often. The opportunities from the research were very positive for our client in terms of the level of interest in using their online technology. Our client’s customers and prospects also learnt how to maximise the benefits of stores for their customers. Thus a win-win-win-win all round!
As a consequence, we co-hosted a global webinar with our client’s CMO, which can be accessed here: http://go.bookingbug.com/modern-consumer-2018-webinar-recording.html
Fast not Furious
Understanding opportunities in Fast Casual dining
As a nation we are rapidly embracing a ‘fast-casual’ approach to eating out and have seen a plethora of restaurants and eateries popping up which offer an attractive combination of contemporary décor, modern menus, efficient and informal service and affordability. Our client wanted to tap directly into this opportunity by launching a new Fast Casual brand into the UK (the brand exists already in other markets). We engaged in a comprehensive programme of research involving three core strands: an early phase of desk research to understand the UK market and the potential opportunity; qualitative consumer work-shopping to explore the broad proposition in detail and refine it for the UK market in terms of relevance, positioning and tone of voice; a final quantitative phase to generate confidence around the intended launch plans into specific areas of London in the coming year... watch this space!
Sharing means caring
The importance of keeping certain items on your menu on customer perceptions of value for money
Some of us love to share our food and some of us hate it. But either way, when it comes to casual dining in a pizza restaurant, you need to offer your customers the choice of a sharing size, whether they end up choosing it or not. We spoke to our client's casual dining customers in depth, in store and online to understand how valuable the sharing pizza was to them and predict what they would do if faced with a series of different price and availability scenarios when eating out. The outputs enabled our client to move forward with a menu that now offers all the choices and value their customers expect at prices that make sense commercially for the business.
Drivers of choice for car ferry travel on the IoW
IoW residents got the chance to tell us about the pros and cons of living on an island and more specifically about what matters most to them when it comes to travelling across to The Mainland with a car. Our client was keen to hear about what Islanders want from a car ferry service in terms of the broader on-board experience as well as understanding ticket types and pricing options. A series of qualitative focus groups were conducted with residents living in different areas of the Isle of Wight to understand the motivations and barriers around their choice of route as well as brand, highlighting clear opportunities for future development for one of the main IoW ferry companies.
Putting the 'mmm...' back into the menu
Making your menu pretty as well as proftable
Finding the menu design that sells the most profitable dishes and looks good at the same time. In casual dining it’s a difficult balance getting your menu ready for an update that appeals aesthetically, sends the right brand message and sells the dishes that maximise profit margin. One of our casual dining clients found themselves in this very position and so we put their menu through its paces using elements of our staged Menu Optimisation Suite. Combing qual, quant and eye-tracking we identified the optimum menu design for visual appeal, navigability and likely impact on purchasing and commercial KPIs. The winning design route is now helping to satisfy appetites across the full restaurant estate.
Beauty is in the eye of the shopper
Will a 'shop within a shop' work for mainstream beauty?
Shopping for beauty products is a very personal and emotive experience. It's not as simple as 'grab and go' even in the context of 'value proposition' and it is vital that shoppers feel comfortable enough and inspired to try out new products while effectively browsing in-store in this category. Our client, best known for clothing retail, wanted to understand how to enhance its offer in the beauty and cosmetics area in store and whether gains could be made through a move to a 'shop within a shop' design.
Our mixed-method approach combining qual and quant research, both in-store and online, proved the concept was well-received by customers and could generate incremental cosmetics spend. We went on to test out five different design concepts among a value-driven but very discerning and carefully segmented target audience. We were able to single out a clear ‘winner’ with realistic and actionable recommendations for design improvement prior to concept launch and full store roll-out.
Keeping Little Tummies Happy!
Kids menu and food bench-marking in Casual Dining
A major family-orientated chain was reviewing its Kids Menu offer and needed to understand how several newly developed dishes performed against the current counterparts among the target 5-11 year olds. The Kids menu design also needed a refresh and so we employed a creative two-pronged solution: creative workshops with Mums to understand Kids’ food choices and decisions to feed into the menu design plus interactive quantitative food tasting sessions with the children in-restaurant. Clear winning dishes were taken forward for full-scale development and a new menu design generated to coincide with and complement their launch.
'Down with the Kids'
Understanding the Schoolwear market
As a leading player in the Schoolwear market our client was keen to understand the process its customers go through in terms of supplier choice as well as their current purchase behaviour, requirements, motivations and experiences.
Initial exploratory tele-depth interviews with customers were used to inform a larger quant survey which engaged both customers and non-customers in a detailed feedback exercise. The research was able to generate the necessary insight and actions for our client to be able to forge stronger and better relationships with its existing and potential customer base.
The heat is on!
Menu design, navigation & eye-tracking
We all like it to be easy to find what we want on the menu when eating out. As part of an initiative to make the whole dining experience for its guests more enjoyable, we worked with one of the leading casual dining chains to help them assess a new simplified version of their menu. They wanted to tune the level of spiciness of the dishes on the menu to better fit with customer desires as well as ensure it was easy to navigate and, quite literally, identify the ‘hot spots’. Qualitative design workshops with guests led to a new menu being developed – both in format and in design approach. Eye-tracking follow-up sessions then enabled us to check that guests were able to navigate the new menu and find the right dishes ... and at the right spice!
Music to the ears
Assessing the impact of music in the retail environment
Creating the right environment for both customers and staff in store is undoubtedly a goal for all retailers, but just how much does music contribute to the experience and is it really worth the investment? We gave one of our trade retail clients a real understanding of what both their customers and staff thought of their in-store radio, and whether it genuinely made the shopping experience or sense or the workplace any better, or indeed any worse. A combined qual and quant approach allowed us to take our research to a level that generated clear guidelines for our client around optimising the approach to the radio, the music and the DJ across their store estate – ultimately seeking to improve the experience of all those who find themselves in and around their stores.
Who pays the ferryman?
Understanding drivers of choice for travel to and from the IoW
How do Isle of Wight residents decide which passenger ferry route to take when travelling to the Mainland? This was a question posed to us by one of the main providers of passenger transport to and from the Island in a bid to improve their customer offer in terms of service, facilities, timetable, tickets and onward transport connectivity. Benefiting from having our own national field-force of interviewers we sent a few extra ‘shipmates’ across to the Island and spoke to hundreds of IoW residents in the key towns, as well as talking to passengers mid-crossing on the Solent. The results highlighted the key reasons people choose the transport routes they do as well as identified gaps and opportunities to be fed into the client’s broader planning process for customer improvement initiatives in the longer term.
Can’t cook, won’t cook?
Understanding the motivations and decisions along the takeaway customer journey
Working out what to have for an evening meal every night of the week is hard at the best of times, not least when you’re pushed for time, and that’s when a takeaway can take the strain out of the weekly meal planning. We helped one of our favourite casual dining brands get a deep understanding of the motivations behind ordering a takeaway as well as the decision-making process at all key points in the customer journey. Using a mixed qualitative and ethnographic approach we were able to pinpoint real opportunities as well as critical areas for focus for managing the takeaway business moving forward, against the backdrop of a thriving restaurant business.
Getting to the heart & sole
Understanding the outdoor footwear market
Those who love the great outdoors need the right shoes to really enjoy it at its best. The outdoor footwear market is an increasingly competitive place to be for some of the more traditional brands. So, the focus of this piece of research was to achieve a clear understanding of who’s buying what when it comes to outdoor shoes, as well as to assess relative performance of the main brands across a spectrum of outdoor activities. An online approach with embedded video response questions enabled customers to ‘talk directly to the client’ while ensuring we captured all the key desired metrics. By layering engaging customer footage and visual mapping with robust data we ensured full engagement from our client’s internal stakeholders. The outputs identified a credible and clear path through what emerged to be a surprisingly cluttered and confused competitor brand landscape.
Profiling shopping centre visitors
The insight team of some of the leading shopping centres in the country approached us with a problem. Their existing monthly tracking study profiled the nationalities of those visiting their centres, but they had a strong suspicion that the numbers they were getting did not match reality.
We began a monthly tracking study designed to cover all of the key details: place of origin, spend, group composition, reason for visit, age and gender etc. with the ability to explore key regions across the globe.
Our work confirmed our client’s suspicions – the mix of nationalities was far more varied than previous research had suggested, and the percentage of foreign visitors notably higher. We’ve conducted over 20,000 interviews in the centres and our work is now the primary data source on foreign tourism.
Going the extra (royal) mile
Identifying opportunities in luxury retail
Our challenge was to find out what opportunities there were to go ‘above and beyond’ customer expectations within the context of a multi-channel luxury retail environment. The focus was on understanding how existing and new initiatives could drive perceptions of ‘excellence’ and ultimately spend.
By talking to customers through an online platform and incorporating a mechanism for feeding in customer-led ideation, we were able to highlight the opportunities for this major luxury fashion retailer, leading to smarter investment planning.
Making sense of the pound
Understanding discount shoppers’ response to changes in price structure
Getting prices right in any retail setting is critical to its overall commercial success, but in discount retailing is undeniably top of the agenda. We’ve been helping what was one of the biggest single price discounters understand the response from shoppers to a change in its pricing structure; the potential implications on brand perceptions and share of spend. Qual group workshops explored different price tier options across different categories as well as understanding shopper response to alternative merchandising scenarios and potential branding implications. This dovetailed into pre and post store exit interviews to give our client the reassurance they needed to launch the new initiative across the estate.
Some of our happy clients
Don’t just take our word for it…
“Thank you for the presentation today. I thought it was an excellent piece of work which not only provides excellent insight into the JD customer, but also real areas of focus for the business to drive sales and profit."
"Thank you to both Josh and John for the excellent presentation you delivered yesterday. It provided great insight into the successes and challenges we are facing in Germany. It offers a solid platform for us to develop a clear action plan for future expansion."
"A true barometer of a smooth project for me is how ‘easy’ it felt and it felt easy from briefing, proposal, refinement, questionnaire design, fieldwork and presentation. The quality of the output is strong too, so all in all very happy! I will definitely consider you again for future projects."