Partner Series

By analyzing consumers' shopping patterns, new research is indicating brand loyalty is on the decline, as a preference for favorite brands is replaced by a preference for lower price.

Computer scientist Rajeev Sharma and colleagues have started a company, called VideoMining, around some new software they've developed to analyze these kinds of shopping trends. They use the software to put together a top-down view of how people shop and what they buy.

 

The data revealed several facts about our shopping habits: Shoppers prefer wider aisles when they shop; women take a lot longer to shop than men; and, except in a few brands tested, brand loyalty is not always strong.

"What we're finding in some categories, people are going to the store and making up their mind right there," Sharma said. "You can see people coming in, going between brands and picking up the product based upon price."

The multitudes of products available for purchase at any given shop are constantly vying for a shopper's attention. Studying how shoppers choose between convenience, good deals and good service in any shopping decision can help store owners and brands figure out the best way to serve their customers.

"Basically, what VideoMining does is use software along with cameras mounted on the ceiling of stores to track shoppers as they move around the store and create data that helps us understand how shoppers are shopping," Sharma said in a statement. "It's all about capturing human behavior so you can really understand it over a long period of time."

The software anonymously tracks a store's traffic patterns, showing which areas of the store get the most attention from shoppers. It can also show how long it might take a shopper to decide between two competing brands of a product, let's say a type of cola. This is called the "moment of truth" and can be affected by everything from price to personal stress.

"By providing the data to retailers and manufacturers they can customize and design the stores and the shelves and the products to match the shoppers' interest," Sharma said.

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