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This guest blog was authored by Brian Czarny, Chief Marketing Officer of Factual, a leader in location data.

This year, we assisted dunnhumby with their 2019 dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index: Convenience Store Edition by providing high-quality location data to help with market analysis. Capturing real-world visits is one of the most important retail KPIs today, as channel and media fragmentation is elevating competitive pressures and making it increasingly difficult for brick-and-mortar retailers to grow or even maintain visits. By delving into the data we provided, dunnhumby was able to compare Share of Visits between convenience stores that ranked in the top quartiles and those that ranked in the bottom. Ultimately, they were able to determine that Share of Visits does not differ much across the top two and bottom two quartiles of stores. In fact, they were the same at 14.4%. With the initial results in hand, the RPI analysts wondered: Why was there so little difference between the quartiles, given that almost every other performance measure favored the top performers?


Although Share of Visits data doesn't necessarily provide definitive answers on why the quartiles are so similar, the analysts hypothesized that the Convenience channel has a dual nature and preference patterns are split across emotional and functional drivers. While dunnhumby had previously found that in the Grocery channel, what people think and feel aligns nicely with what they do and how they shop, Convenience proved to be different. It is less clear why some Convenience retailers capture visits through a connection with the customer while other retailers mainly attract functional shoppers and quick trips with their numerous locations. In other words, emotion wins the day for some, but true convenience wins for others -- the sheer number of stores can be effective at capturing trips for gas, a cup of coffee, or getting milk for your morning cereal.

After comparing Share of Visits to other attributes, analysts concluded that there was no correlation between Share of Visits and Assortment, Store Experience, Ready-to-Eat, Private Brands, or Price. However, all stages of the Marketing Funnel and conversion rates were significantly correlated with Share of Visits, which further highlights the importance of location data in measuring and forecasting performance.

These location-based findings supports dunnhumby's initial hypothesis that shoppers do not need to love their retailer to pay it a visit. But it does raise a question: if the retailers who have more of an emotional connection with their customers continue to grow their footprint, will there be increasing pressure on the more functional retailers? To find out, he analysts grouped regional Convenience retailers into two buckets -- More Convenient and Less Convenient -- and analyzed whether either group had a higher Share of Visits. It turned out that there was a statistically significant difference. The Convenient group saw a 15.6% mean Share of Visits while the Less Convenient group saw a 12.7% mean. This is simply association and not causation, but it does suggest that as regional retailers expand and increase their geographical footprints, they could put pressure on the larger incumbents.

If simply having convenient locations becomes less of an advantage for larger retailers, then emotional connection will begin to play a larger role in determining customer preference. In fact, dunnhumby is beginning to see this happen as smaller retailers continue to expand, winning both the emotional and financial battle. As the market and consumer preference evolves, retailers big and small will have to stay on top of the game and leverage the highest-quality data and technology to help them better understand, reach, and engage their customers.

Memories of panic buying may be fading here in the UK but have resurfaced elsewhere1. The near constant threat of another wave of Covid-19 may yet prompt another round of hyper demand. Whilst there is little hard evidence to determine the underlying drivers of panic buying2, there are numerous theories that the retail industry may benefit from exploring.

Feroud Seeparsand, dunnhumby's Senior Consumer Psychologist, outlines some likely theories to explain the 'why' behind the 'panic buy' and some implications for retailers to prevent it reoccurring in future.

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The dunnhumby Consumer Pulse Survey is a multi-phased, worldwide study of the impact of COVID-19 on customer attitudes and behavior. We surveyed more than 27,000 respondents online in 22 countries, with interviews conducted for Wave one from March 29 – April 1, for Wave two from April 11 – 14, and for Wave three from May 27 – 31. Due to the rapidly unfolding crisis in North America, dunnhumby conducted Wave four from July 9 – 12 in the U.S., Canada and Mexico only. Here are highlights from the study:

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In a series of posts published earlier this year, we covered the results of the dunnhumby Customer Pulse – a global study designed to explore changing consumer mindsets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over three waves, conducted between March and the end of May, we polled thousands of people from more than 20 countries on subjects including supermarkets' responses to the outbreak, the economic outlook, and how their shopping behaviour had changed due to COVID.

At the beginning of September – three months on from the previous wave and with supply chains stable and the changing nature of lockdowns – we wanted to revisit the Customer Pulse to see what, if anything, had changed. Below are some of the standout findings from this fourth tranche of research.

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Are you looking to increase your contactable Customer base? How much money are you losing on incorrectly identified Customer communications? Throughout our 30 years of big data experience working with clients across industries around the globe, we have found that maintaining contact through relevant Customer engagement is a crucial component of putting the Customer First.

Essential to preserving contact data is ensuring that you have the most up-to-date information from your Customers; not an easy task. On average, people in the United States will move an average of 12 times in their lifetime. United States Postal Service data indicates 14% of the population change addresses annually. As email contact has grown, it's important to note that, on average, 30% of people change their email addresses each year. This is driven by ISP or job changes, or just to stop being spammed. As people move away from home phones to primarily mobile devices, phone numbers are stabilizing as consumers maintain the same numbers through physical moves.

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It's a well-worn phrase by now, but it's true that the COVID-19 crisis has drastically altered the global retail landscape. Here in the Asia-Pacific region, a majority of markets are now looking past the panic of the first wave and towards the future. In this series of articles, we'll explore how grocery retailers must adapt to a more omnichannel reality to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

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Article originally appeared on Forbes.

My company recently produced a report on the state of the food retail industry, and in studying that sector, we discovered something that we hope will make food retailers stand up and listen. We learned that the nation's top grocery chains have found a way to focus on both short-term financial performance and investment in long-term consumer engagement. The latter is considered an insurance policy for the future — a sobering thought in the new year.

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Last March, when we realized the potential impact that COVID-19 might have on all aspects of our lives, dunnhumby launched a survey to understand how the virus would affect consumers food shopping habits. It was designed to help our clients better meet the needs of their Customers by seeing the impact of the virus through their customers eyes.

Little did we know at the time that one year later we would still be dealing with the impact Covid-19. This study presents the results of the sixth global wave of the study and the seventh wave for the United States. Other waves were conducted in March, April, May, July, September and November of 2020. This wave was conducted in February 2021.

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Retail leaders must objectively understand how their business currently considers Customers before trying to set a more Customer-centric direction and focus. There are some formal assessment methodologies, like dunnhumby's Retail Preference Index (RPI) and Customer Centricity Assessment (CCA), which offer detailed evaluations of a business' capabilities, strengths and weaknesses based on Customer perceptions (RPI) or global best practices (CCA).

The approach outlined below is not intended to replace these formal tools; rather, these observations are intended as a kind of 'toe in the water' to help retail leaders form early hypotheses and points of views. These are rules of thumb, heuristics culled from global experience. Later, leaders might use these observations to informally check progress from time to time as a way of assessing whether the "program in the stores matches the program in our heads".

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In the first episode of Customer First Radio, Dave Clements, Global Head of Retail for dunnhumbyand David Ciancio, Global Head of Grocery for dunnhumby kick off the series by discussing what it means to be a truly Customer First business, share which retailers and brands today embody a Customer First mindset, and examine how Customer First materialized during the pandemic with retailers.