How To Do A Store Check
- Wann ist ein Store Check sinnvoll?
- Wie wird ein Store Check vorbereitet?
- Wie wird ein Store Check durchgeführt?
When considering entering the FMCG market with a new consumer brand, we advise our clients to start with the conducting of a Store Check. Recently, we have visited Iran and based on our experience, we have prepared several key points that will guide you in trying or preparing for such a significant task.
Why is it important?
Well, please do take a moment to consider how a new packaging design project might look like without such an analysis. Which design direction to follow? How to position the brand? How to stand out from the competition? Which is the competition?
Without an understanding of the context within a package or a brand must communicate and engage, such project would be performed with a virtual blindfold on!
Both, the company producer and the agency assigned with the packaging design project, need to tap into the market and explore around to feel and see the dynamics and find a suitable place for the new brand to position, differentiate and stand out.
In the stores your brand will start its journey, making a first contact with its consumers. That is why every agency first needs to understand where your most important sales would be made.
Which stores to visit?
First, cluster the stores which you plan to visit into types. Sales channels vary and our brand communication should be adapted accordingly. Exploring how the potential customers would interact with the brand in different surroundings is vital for the packaging design.
Is your new brand going to be distributed mostly in modern or traditional trade? What is the ratio between the two channels in your target country market?
Create a list of all store types – from wholesale or small local markets in the neighbourhood, to larger retail stores and chains.
How to prepare?
Once you have created the list, go on a mission to visit some of these stores to get a feeling about the place. There are specific preparation points to be considered upfront. For example, when you visit small stores, it is better to ask permission to look around and eventually make photos. Usually, the store owners could be very understanding and support your quest, as long as you are open to your reasons why you want to investigate around.
On the contrary, most supermarkets will not allow you to do store-checks openly. Probably in such cases, you might need to be prepared to work in a more secretive way. Therefore, it is useful to carry your smartphone and record your findings or notes as if you were making a call.
Distribution channels can be extraordinary and unique to different markets, and the displays may significantly vary between store types.
Also, as part of the preparation, create a checklist to go through when going around the isles in the store. Define upfront what criteria you would be basing your research. Then, you are ready to enter the store well-equipped with the right tools for a successful mission.
When you are in the store:
First, note down how the shelf is filled:
- Are products displayed by product types, or blocked together as brands?
- Would there be an opportunity to create ‘colour blocking’?
- Is there a need to create a strong range design that can easily outline your brand when among all the others and displayed by variety?
- Are the packs placed high, at eye level, or down the shelf? Keep in mind that the eye-level or higher positions score higher attention points.
- Where should your brand be positioned, next to the competitive packs, is it on the left or the right? If your consumers read from right to left, packs placed on the right will often have a visual advantage over others, and vice-versa.
Finally, make a note of how many facings are given to each A-brand and private label. Such a disclaimer gives the design team a notion of the ‘stand-out’ challenge. It also gives them an idea if there is an opportunity to make a repeating design or not.
You may also devote some time to observe the shoppers in the store. It is a good idea to watch how people explore or purchase the category. Is this category mostly purchased on impulse or is a more thought-of purchase? Such knowledge also influences the design approach. Impulse purchase products tend to have bold and quite outstanding designs that catch the eye quickly and communicate instantly, with more colours or shapes, with clear icons etc. On the other hand, more reflective purchases tend to use more benefit communication or ownable printing techniques to awaken the senses or reassure consumers of their choice.
Looking at the people who shop your category also helps you redefine and confirm your target audience, their gender, age, preferences, attention focus etc.
In conclusion, store checks could be eye-opening and instrumental in defining your design language and direction. There is much more to gain from conducting such an exercise than skipping it. It is worth the time and the investment.
About the author
Raya Drenski has more than ten years of experience in business development, while working in the fields of branding, communication and design. This experience helps her in achieving strong and productive collaborations with clients, which eventually lead to profit and growth.