84.51° White Paper Sounds the Alarm on Shopper Research Methods

Organizations have long relied on consumer research to identify what influences consumer behaviors and buying patterns. This allows the organizations to tailor their products, strategies, and marketing efforts to align with the preferences of the target customer base. However, what if the shopper research that is so important to organizations has a fundamental flaw? 

A new study by 84.51°, a leading retail data science, insights, and media company, reveals that companies might be basing major business decisions on data that is flawed because the research is targeting shoppers the wrong way. 

The objective of the study was to determine how sample quality impacts research outcomes by comparing different sampling methodologies and found significant discrepancies between self-claimed and behaviorally-verified surveys. 

A high majority of surveys rely on self-claimed sampling, which can be inaccurate and unreliable. The eligibility of respondents in such surveys is not verified through objective first-party data or behavioral evidence. Instead, the respondents are asked common questions such as their age, occupation, shopping habits, etc. The accuracy of these surveys is highly dependent on the respondent’s ability to accurately remember and report their shopping habits resulting in uncertainty about whether respondents’ memories reflect their true buying behaviors.  

The shocking results of the 84.51° study reveal that 75 percent of self-claimed respondents had zero purchases in the category they claimed to purchase, and 60 percent were incorrectly placed in the wrong buyer group. 

This shows that traditional research sampling is prone to inaccuracy and often includes respondents who do not qualify for the study. The results for faster moving categories showed even more concerning with 85 percent of respondents having no category purchases. 

According to the study, a better way to conduct shopper research is to include behaviorally-verified respondents as it offers significant advantages in terms of more accurate insights. Such respondents are identified by analytics of actual purchase behavior from transaction data such as loyalty cards. An added advantage of incorporating behaviorally verified respondents is that you get to minimize responses from bots, bad actors, and click farms.

(Zivica Kerkez/Shutterstock)

One of the reasons why self-claimed respondents lead to inaccurate results is that these survey takers are overly keen to pass the screener and in trying to do this they tend to claim shopping at double the number of retailers for a specific category compared to behaviorally-verified respondents. Around 43 percent of self-claimed retailers claim they shopped at 4+ retailers, while this percentage is only 19 percent for behaviorally verified respondents.

The issues with data integrity are also alarming as self-proclaimed respondents are the worst offenders of failing data quality checks such as random attention checks and speeders – respondents who complete surveys too quickly suggesting they are not reading the questions fully. 

The 84.51° white paper should set the alarm bells ringing for companies that use traditional methods for shopper research as using flawed data could be hurting their bottom line. The groundbreaking study calls for better research and data quality standards industry-wide. Brands that can recognize the value of behaviorally-verified respondents would be in a better position to hear the voice of actual customers verified by data.

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Author: Ali Azhar