Business Objective: Develop a seamless workflow for implementing a new category approach to retail partners by innovating an existing go-to-market strategy. 

Business Functions Impacted:Silk shot-2

Category Management

Business Situation: A national breakfast foods manufacturer was looking to streamline their go-to-market strategy and augment research capabilities in order to develop more customer-specific, data-driven category and product recommendations for key retail partners. They wanted to create a seamless workflow from start to finish that would allow them to work more efficiently—saving them time and money, while gaining deeper, customized insights. They decided to leverage virtual reality to create and evaluate two different aisle concepts—as well as variations of each option—to understand which execution would be most successful in building aisle sales and enhancing the experience for the shopper. 

The team had 4 main goals:

  • Shake up a stagnant category
  • Improve aisle browsing
  • Drive impulse buys
  • Open consumers consideration set
ShopperMX™ Approach

The client leveraged InContext’s enterprise mixed reality retail optimization platform, ShopperMX™, to visualize concepts within a virtual environment, evaluate them by developing customized research programs with multiple targeted qualitative and quantitative tests, and then present their findings in immersive VR to gain buy-in with retail partners.

Phase 1: Identify Leading Concepts 
The client’s category team leveraged ShopperMX™ to visualize each of the potential scenarios in a virtual retail simulation using our extensive library of products, environments and assets. This meant that concepts were developed to-scale, and inconsistent or unrealistic dimensions were identified early and fixed. The client was then able to narrow down two leading concepts (Concept A and Concept B) that they wanted to further evaluate using a customized research study. 

Phase 2: Learn Which Elements are Driving Change
The client worked with InContext to conduct an online, quantitative, monadic virtual shelf test with 3 cells (1 benchmark + 2 test cells; one with size variety and one with flavor variety). Using a large representative shopper sample, they hoped to identify which concepts, or elements of concepts, would drive change and positive sales impact, resulting in a best-in-class recommendation.  

  • Benchmark: Current aisle flow
  • Concept A: Need-state segmentation. SKUs are arranged by need states
  • Concept B: Occasion-based segmentation. SKUs are arranged by occasion

Phase 3: Localizing the results with ShopperMX™ Indicators
In addition to determining an overall winning strategy, the manufacturer wanted to provide specific, data-driven recommendations to each retail partner. Using ShopperMX™ Indicators, the winning concepts from phase 2 were tested within virtual stores representing the manufacturer's top customers, taking into consideration the various assortments for each. The client was able to provide customer-specific insight into sales performance and shopper perception within weeks.

Phase 4: Presentation & Sell-In 
The manufacturer team met with each retail partner to share the compelling sales and shopper insights gathered from InContext’s virtual simulations, custom research and ShopperMX™ Indicators.

With the use of VR images and videos, and an immersive virtual store walk-through, the data and insights were brought to life.

Key Takeaways

Insights were delivered on 3 concepts from 11,000 unique respondents in half the time of a traditional research study—saving on costs. The brand was able to gain sell-in with retailers without the need to build full physical concepts, driving modular insights for a more local perspective, and allowing both the retailer and manufacturer to collaborate on the decision-making process.