FSP uses a range of different consumer research techniques depending on the needs of the client. These include both Quantitative and Qualitative research.
Quantitative research (e.g. in centre, on street, online interviews) is appropriate when assessing current or historical behaviour (e.g. do you visit, have you visited).
Qualitative research (e.g. focus groups, mini depth interviews) is more effective when wanting to look at current or future behaviour. It’s a useful technique when more detail is required than a structured survey will allow. For instance, Quantitative research will establish whether someone currently shops at a location and what they do when they get there, whereas Qualitative research will allow in depth probing of the reasons for shopping (or not shopping) in a specific location and their reaction to proposed improvements.
FSP believes in using quality consumer research to identify solutions to tenant mix and leasing issues. We work with ‘best in class’ local research providers to understand customer performance, shopping trends and retail markets. Membership of the Ebeltoft network of international retail consulting businesses also allows FSP to call upon native retailing expertise when necessary. This enables FSP to deliver clear, actionable, independent and relevant advice based upon detailed retailing insight and sound consumer analysis.
FSP does not offer a ‘one size fits all’ approach and will develop an appropriate solution to meet each client’s specific requirements. Some may involve both Quantitative and Qualitative research – the two, if used correctly, complement each other well
Quantitative techniques include:
Intercept surveys are short, high volume questionnaires that capture visitor postcodes along with responses to 3 or 4 KPI questions (such as visit frequency, spend and Net Promoter Score). These are used to establish bespoke shopper catchments and provide a cost effective snapshot of shopper behaviour and attitudes. The outputs from the surveys are used to establish:
- Catchment area, including a range of standard demographic data
- Shopper profile
- KPI performance vs benchmark locations
They can also be used to track changes in shopping habits and to measure marketing effectiveness.
In the last three years, FSP has collected over 424k responses to intercept surveys across the UK and in Europe giving an unrivalled knowledge of consumer behaviour.
FSP employs Shopper Surveys to provide a robust base of supporting evidence for strategy development. Results quantify current shopper behaviour and can include additional topics such as use of competing centres or awareness of centre marketing. The typical sample size is between 500 and 1000 respondents depending on the size of the location. The questionnaire generally consists of around 20 questions plus demographics and is drafted by FSP in collaboration with key stakeholders
Questions in a typical survey would include:
• KPIs - Visit frequency, Dwell time, Spend, Net Promoter Score (Satisfaction Index)
• Use of individual stores/conversion to purchase
• Method of Arrival
• Use of leisure/catering in relation to shopping offer
• Marketing Awareness and response to Centre promotions/events
• Centre/town attitudes – response to sequence of statements
• Propensity of shoppers to purchase online
• Alternative shopping destinations used
Responses are benchmarked against those at similar locations providing detailed insight into relative strengths and weaknesses of centre performance and opportunities for improvement.
FSP has collected 26k responses to detailed shopper surveys in the UK and in Europe in the last three years, providing detailed insight into consumer behaviour and attitudes.
FSP also has substantial experience in carrying out online surveys. These can either be sent out to an existing customer database or responses gathered from consumer panels. Respondents can be pre-screened to ensure they fit specified criteria (e.g. an interest in soft furnishings, household income above a certain amount) and quotas can be set to ensure the required geographic spread is achieved. Online surveys provide a useful tool for engaging with lapsed shoppers who by nature will not be captured through in-centre / on-street research. The maximum questionnaire length is generally around 15 questions plus demographics and would be drafted by FSP with input from the client team.
Previous FSP projects that have included online research have included quantifying responses to focus group outputs for a major shopping centre development and current usage of and attitudes towards products being developed by a major soft furnishings company.
Qualitative techniques include:
Focus groups enable in-depth investigation of consumer attitudes. Topics can include why participants don’t use a particular centre, requirements for town centre improvements, use and perceptions of competing centres, reaction to proposed new facilities / proposed improvements / recent developments, reaction to design / architecture, views on the environment, branding and preferences for particular shops. Their success depends on the selection of coherent groups of participants who share specific demographic characteristics.
FSP typically sets up 4 to 6 Focus Groups (of 8-10 participants) comprising both Promoters and Detractors of the current shopping provision. FSP experience is that the debate between these groups provides particularly useful insight to the attitudes of local shoppers. In order to reflect the attitudes of different lifestyles (e.g. pre-family, family, post-family) and the different levels of access to the subject and competing centres, separate focus groups are typically held for blue collar and middle class residents.
An example group make up would be:
A moderator unobtrusively guides the discussion but takes no direct part. The topics of interest are defined by the client in response to FSP/Client suggestions. These unstructured but carefully moderated discussions provide a rich fund of useful information.
Mini-depth interviews are a variation on focus groups – each respondent gets to talk as much as in a full scale group but the time involvement is much less. Each interview is a 10 to 15 minute one-on-one conversation between an experienced moderator and a shopper who has already been screened as fulfilling the required characteristics. Mini Depths are particularly useful when there is a specific area to be explored.
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