Valio collaborates with Crowst on qualitative shopper insights

When competing in a crowded product category where both domestic and foreign brands are active, how do you stand out? How do you understand what goes through the minds of your customers? Customers who find themselves in the unenviable position of deciding from a swathe of products on the shelves. How do you understand what guides their choices and what they perceive as missing? To truly understand a shopper, you need in-depth shopper insights.

True shopper insights means walking in the shoes of your customers. You need to understand their pain in order to truly serve their need. These shoes come in all shapes and sizes. There are many questions to answer: ”What products caught your attention and why?”, ”What products did you consider?”, ”What did you decide to buy?”. These are some of the questions that Valio, Finland’s leading dairy and drink products producer, seeks answers to. Valio has kicked off collaboration with Crowst, focusing on the Ambient juices category.

Different shoppers, different needs

Shopper insights mean different things to different people. It could mean aspects such as tracking shopper movements within a store (using cameras) to understand the path they take to your product category, shop-alongs where you observe and probe shoppers’ purchase decisions in stores by shadowing the shoppers, retail sales data analytics to understand correlations between product categories and so on. Context plays a big role in defining what insights you derive from your shoppers.

Hörppy juice drinks from Valio
Grandi® juice boxes from Valio

Each method has its own value in understanding the overall shopper puzzle. Valio values a scalable qualitative way to get into the minds of consumers and get a sense of their thought process. In the Ambient juices category, Valio’s own products include Valio Hörppy and Valio Grandi®, both well recognized brands in Finland. Valio Grandi® especially has been a household brand for over 50 years. With intensifying competition, these products are fighting for shelf space and shopper mind-space. Additionally, the category has seen the introduction of several new products and product types in recent times.

Thus, in order to take the shopper context into account and enable sourcing quality data with depth, it is critical to get the consumers in front of the product shelves at stores to see and learn how they perceive the category in general. Another critical aspect of a shopper study is to identify your “target” shopper accurately and meaningfully, so that you get a true assessment of your sweet-spot consumers.

It is hard to define the category to a consumer in an online questionnaire. Consumers don’t think the same way as the industry. Hence, we need to go with them to where the products are sold and then follow what interests them and what they would buy, opens Jarno Rautio, Consumer Insight manager at Valio.

Re-defining shopper insights with Crowst

In May 2022, Valio started to collaborate with Crowst to adopt a new way of gathering shopper insights. With access to tens of thousands of Crowst’s mobile app respondent base across Finland, profiled according to the segments that are of interest to Valio, a shopper insights program was launched. The insights contained a quantitative understanding of the context of the shopper:

  • Who they are?
  • What are their motivations to buy?
  • What is the role of the category in their lives?
  • What are the core values they associate with the products? and so on…

This set the stage to dive deeper into a qualitative assessment of their in-store behaviour.

In-store assessment at scale

The identified, screened, and selected consumers, during one of their routine shopping trips, document their in-store experience using the Crowst mobile app. This includes capturing pictures of products, shelves, offers that caught their attention and a qualitative description of what triggered their interest. Combining the two data stories: context of the consumers with their in-store experience helps create a holistic image of the consumer including:

  • What motivated customers to buy certain juice brands?
  • How much of that influence was in stores vs. their own preset motivations?

Naturally, the program also helps sourcing insights that enable forming a more concrete understanding of the on-shelf context, covering own brands, competing brands and retail execution in general.

”We wanted to try something different than our traditional methods, and Crowst represented an interesting, new approach to address the questions we had in mind”, continues Rautio. ”We are very pleased with the insights we gathered. We are able to understand much better the future direction of this category and reflect those insights into our future brand and product development. Moreover, this approach helps to get a deeper understanding of what elements in the products drive customers’ choices and how we can leverage that to our benefit”, adds Patricia Holmström, Category Manager at Valio.

”Thanks to their modern approach and understanding of the DNA of shopper insights, Crowst enables drilling down deeper with customers, supporting strongly our brand and new product development”.

Patricia Holmström, Category Manager at Valio

”Thanks to their modern approach and understanding of the DNA of shopper insights, Crowst enables drilling down deeper and faster with customers, supporting strongly our brand and new product development” concludes Holmström.

Assessing in-store shopper experience through a combination of quantitative understanding of their motivations and a qualitative in-store shopper view, especially at scale, allows you to continuously map the evolving preferences of consumers. Thus, you get a continuous and direct window into the decision making of your shoppers and tap into that sentiment to deliver the right product at the right price at the right place.

If you wish to know more about our thinking on shopper insights and how we can help you, have a look at our article on Shopper Insights. Contact us to talk further.