Editor’s note: Malakai De-Morgan is shopper insight manager, Mondelēz International, U.K. Gavin Holt is commercial director, Join the Dots I InSites Consulting, U.K. Jonathan Barrowman is CEO, Gorilla in the room, U.K. 

Multinational snacks and beverage company Mondelēz International partnered with insights agency Join the Dots I InSites Consulting and virtual reality (VR) market research platform provider Gorilla in the room, to understand the extent to which shelf-ready packaging and merchandising impacts shopper behaviors at in-store fixtures.

The key challenge in this study was to replicate a realistic shopping experience and test multiple fixtures with a quantitative sample in order for Mondelēz International to make a sound business decision. 

Traditionally, 2D pictures of planograms or on-screen computer-generated imagery (CGI) simulations have been used; however, it is widely acknowledged that these aren’t realistic representations of a supermarket shopping experience. In this instance, there was concern that lack of context at the point-of-purchase wouldn’t deliver real-world insights. 

Conducting a large-scale face-to-face study in-store was also considered to be logistically challenging and cost-prohibitive when gathering quantitative data on shopper preferences.

At Mondelēz, we [Malakai De-Morgan’s team] continue to look for ways to test and learn hypotheses through agile research approaches. With this project, we’ve been able to combine shopper feedback using VR alongside capturing behavioral data, to not only confirm our hypotheses but change investments into the shopping environment to drive category growth.

Together, Join the Dots I InSites Consulting and Gorilla in the room designed a VR study for Mondelēz International that would:

  • Establish an optimal planogram presentation in supermarkets through fixture testing.
  • Capture quantitative data insight in a realistic shopping experience.

To achieve these objectives, VR stimulus was integrated into a mobile-first survey which respondents completed at home using their smartphones and cardboard VR views. In a world-first approach, behavioral data indicating attention was captured within the VR experience and combined with explicit survey data to deliver new insights. Three-sixty videos of the target shelf were filmed in a supermarket aisle when the shop was closed. Three different fixture planogram presentations were created, and in post-production CGI changes were made to labels and product prices. 

Three hundred people were recruited to complete the survey from The Snack Chatan online research community of U.K. shoppers run by Join the Dots I InSites Consulting, for Mondelēz International. During the survey, respondents were prompted to insert their smartphone in the VR viewer and, after a 30-second VR experience, they were automatically returned to the survey to select the products they recognized from the VR shelf.

Join the Dots I InSites Consulting jumped at the chance of combining the latest thinking in virtual reality with its own platforms, to explore the different behavioral triggers that impact shopper behaviors in confectionery. The results helped provide an additional layer of understanding to Mondelēz unique to this approach.

Across the different planograms tested, there was a significant role demonstrated by brand color in capturing shoppers’ attention as well as the ability to aid ease of shopping and therefore subsequent purchases.

The insights from this innovative shelf test have enabled Mondelēz International to prioritize investment into shelf-ready packaging and confirm merchandising principles into supermarkets. 

Adding behavioral data to mobile quant studies is a step-change for the industry with real-world insights, helping Mondelēz to make confident investment decisions.