Shopper Communication, Channel Execution, Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio

The Cognitive Map

Is it obvious where your product is located in store?

We thought we’d start this weeks offering with a little quiz.  Where do you think the products below are located in store?

Uncle Ben’s Rice Time Pots?

Lynx Attract For Her Body Spray?

Itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins?

The answers are at the end of the blog.

What annoys you the most about grocery shopping?  Long queues – possibly?  Out of stocks – probably?  When they move products around – definitely.

Why does this irritate us so much?  Well, most of us have developed a cognitive map of the main store(s) we visit.  If we asked you where milk was located, you would be able to tell us easily.  Some of you may even write your shopping list in the order of the store?

Either way, we all have some form of cognitive map of the store that we have built up over time.  This allows us to navigate and find what we want fairly easily.  Until…they move things around.  This isn’t just a minor inconvenience on that visit.  It means you have to re-set your cognitive map.  The more products that are moved, the more you have to recalibrate, and it takes a few visits to properly do so.  This is all extra effort.

So, why are we talking about this?  One of the biggest FMCG trends over recent years has been the proliferation of choice.  With more choice comes more complexity.  What makes this even more acute is the trend of category blurring. A lot of new products take properties from more than one category.  And a lot of new products are from brands that are established in one category moving into a new category.

In many cases it is not obvious to the shopper where a product is going to sit in store.  And if it isn’t clear where the product is, will they spend time hunting it down?  Probably not.  So your product is reliant on a chance encounter, which if you have invested a lot of money in launching the product, is a massive risk to success.

So, how can you increase the chances of getting on the shoppers cognitive map…?

Visually prime the shopper.  Establish crystal clear visual cues for the product, so the shopper knows what to look for.  These visual cues work in 2 ways.  Firstly, they act as a shortcut to brand recognition – quite important when you are 1 of 200 on shelf.  Secondly, they act as a memory association.  The visual cue triggers a connection the shopper already has with the brand.   Helping your communication work through the line.

The Innocent example at the top of the page shows this working in practice, through the aqua & purple variant cues.  Sure, no shopper is racing around the store looking for aqua & purple, but when they do see it, they have a connection already implanted in their head.

Build the Product Path.  Tell the shopper where to find you in store in your above the line communication.  Uncle Ben’s Rice Time Pots advertising says ‘find it in the Pot Snacks aisle’ (there is your answer to the first question).  Here it is crucial to be specific.  Don’t say ‘chilled section’, that doesn’t narrow things down.  Say exactly where in the chilled section you are.

Spotlight the Product on Shelf.  In aisle, direct the shopper to exactly where you are.  Again, just having a generic ‘new product’ sticker is not enough.  Be specific and be visual – either well branded or with an actual picture of the product on POS material.  You can’t find something if you don’t have a picture of what you are looking for in your head.

By the way, all this is even more important online, where you can be hidden on Page 5 of a vague drop down menu.  At least in store, you might get seen by chance.

So, think about the product launches you are working on.  Is it obvious where the product is going to be located?  And, if not, what are you doing to get on the shopper’s cognitive map?

Answers (note – locations are based on our local Sainsbury’s store)

    1. Uncle Ben’s Rice Time Pots = Pot Snacks aisle
    1. Lynx Attract For Her Body Spray? = With male deodorants, in the middle of the Lynx male range
    1. Itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins? = With popcorn (good luck finding them…)

Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.