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Supermarkets as Instagram Inspiration

I often say that social media is a vast playground for research and exploration. Instagram is one the most recent platforms that has really taken off boasting 200 million Instagrammers capturing and sharing their lives every month7.3 million U.S. daily, 51% of the Class of 2014 uses it daily, with an 85% increase in usage amongst global teens between 16-19.

Knowing how visual arts, design and fashion tends to be a major focus for users of the platform, I was curious to explore how Instagrammers engaged with Supermarkets: what they expressed both in their posts and photos, exploring what drove them to share with their networks, if there were any major differences across regional aread and what other insights we could gather from the media:

Here are some that really stood out to me:

This Brisbane Blogger wrote “ I’m loving my new supermarket! It’s super fancy and I made friends with the people in the butcher,” on the pots above. Her fans remarked at how she makes the ordinary seems extraordinary while others said they had trolley envy. There is something about this photo that captures her excitement about a fresh start.  Woolworths is the largest supermarket/grocery store chain in Australia and she tagged them in her post.

This traveler thinks the Moscow hypermarkets are uber classy.

While this Tesco shopper saw another frightful angle to this innocent sign post.

Turf City Shopping Mall Singapore? One particular tag “#SupermarketAdventures” documents the delight and fun that shopping can be especially when it comes to weird veggies, foreign products and well, biking inside the shops.

Meanwhile, this supermarket in the Philippines offers a complimentary cutting service for fresh produce. How neat is that?

I also spotted lots and lots of selfies, shots of beautiful produce and people posing outside the stores. But what really struck me about most of the posts, with all humor aside, was how many people expressed their love of grocery shopping. Whether it was the new mom shopper who said this was the most exciting thing she did all week and was happy to be out, or the late night male shopper reveling in the mostly empty store, over and over again there was a joyful sentiment revealed in most of these messages. One that seemed to cherish if not relish the moment in the store, the displays and colors.

How can we utilize this inspiration to make the purchase journey more delightful, worth capturing?



Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at or @Literanista.




Meet us at the Corner of Consumer Insights & Innovation

Are you looking for deeper understanding of your customers wants, needs, and values? Are you looking to act on those and create innovative products? You are in luck! You will get a deeper understanding of what drives consumer behavior with new innovation research technologies to connect with consumers in a meaningful way at Consumer Insights Canada this September.

Plus, an added bonus, one pass two event, join us under the same roof at the FEI Toronto, which brings together the best-of-the best in innovation, r&d, product development, commercialization, marketing and strategy from leading Fortune 1000 companies to be enlightened and inspired.  Register for either event and have access to the other! Double the content, double the sessions, double the speakers, double the insights, double the value – Don’t miss out, register today!

Consumer Insights Canada 

September 29-October 1, 2014

The Ritz Carlton, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The team behind the World’s Best Insights Event – The Market Research Event, and Shopper Insights in Action introduce The Consumer Insights Canada Event. Bringing the caliber of actionable content, inspiration and peer-to-peer networking you have come to expect to Canada. This is a 3-day experience focused on the power of insights in motivating smarter decision making.

FEI Toronto

September 29 – October 1

The Ritz Carlton, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

FEI is a global event brand that has become the annual meeting place of the most seasoned innovators across the globe. This year alone, over 1,100 of your innovation, product development, trends and R&D colleagues have already attended one of the FEI portfolio of events in Boston, Munich, or Venice. That’s why we are so excited to extend the FEI experience to Toronto this Fall- a city that exudes all the elements essential to the FEI brand- creativity, ingenuity, diversity, and passion.

We hope to see you this fall in Toronto!



Recapping #Shopper360: Highlights and Tweets

English: Navy Pier seen from the top of the Jo...

Navy Pier seen from the top of the John Hancock Building. Chicago, IL. (Photo: Wikipedia)

The three-day Shopper Insights in Action 2014 event took place last month at Navy Pier in Chicago and featured a host of leading speakers. The event offered numerous opportunities for networking and discussion about making insights more actionable. Joanna Gueller summarizes one of the speakers, Kit Yarrow, in her article.

Socio-Cultural Shifts:

Gueller discusses the three shifts that Kit Yarrow mentions in her discussion, the first being technology. She mentions that for the first time we believe new is better and we are becoming early adapters. The second point Yarrow makes is that individualism is increasing and evidence of this is seen in the fact that one in three millennials owns his or her own business. The third point she bring up is emotionality and the feeling of losing control that makes consumers feel anxious.

Connecting with Shoppers:

Gueller also summarizes Yarrow’s five ways that brands can connect on a deeper level with shoppers.

1. Focus on the shopper, not your brand

2. Ramp it up

3. Overcome the trust deficit

4. Communicate to be heard

5. Technovate

Macro-level Challenges:

Howard Telford discusses three challenges in the drink industry in his recap of the event.

1. Using big data more effectively- Brands must do a better job understanding and interpreting data in order to effectively create change. Data is becoming more powerful but it is crucial for the data to be seen by the right pair of eyes.

2. Retail vendor collaboration is vital – The relationship between retailer and brand was a common thread in the case studies seen at the event. This relationship can also maintain growth through information sharing.

3. Understand Challenges in Consumer Decision Making- Data can identify trends and acting rapidly helps utilize those trends. Understanding the shopper mission is difficult because it is changing.

Tweet Tweet: Here are some of the best tweets from #Shopper360





About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at



What You Should Know About the Revolution of the Data Slaves

Peter Vander Auwera, Independent Thinker – Creator – Sensemaker at SWIFT/Innotribe, presented Revolution of the Data Slaves at the 14th Annual Shopper Insights in Action Conference earlier this summer.

He notes that the exploitation, surveillance and co-veillance of online user data and offline behavior will lead to a massive protest of users reclaiming the control over their data. We are witnessing the end of the Century of Self, where users are only seen as targets for immediate satisfaction of their primitive desires. Users want to escape this form of data slavery, and stand-up in a new renaissance of higher ideals. Explore the revolution of the data slaves below to:

- Understand today’s problem of data slavery
- Appreciate the need for privacy-by-design
- Join the call for a higher self experience, expression and participation


Fast Follow-up: Scott Friesen: ULTA Beauty


Fast Follow-up: Scott Friesen: ULTA Beauty

Capsule has spent an enormous amount of time in the beauty aisle. This is not because a majority of our staff is female, nor do we employ an extraordinary number of cross-dressing men (other than one of the founders).

We have spent time in the beauty aisles of our major retailers because of the qualitative research we do. In that time, we’ve had the chance to pair our work up with many forms of quantitative data to gather further insights into human behavior in this particular part of retail. After talking to Scott, we found the most elegant pairing in the qualitative we do with the quantitative he provides.

In the world of beauty, the word “sexy” is seldom, if ever, referenced when talking about analytics. When Scott talks about it, he refers to it not as an object (noun) but as a behavior or discipline (verb). There are so many intriguing things about where this goes, starting with the fact that Scott is remolding the language inside ULTA Beauty, which will have lasting impact.

Then, when he goes into what this means for an organization like ULTA, his examples of using this discipline to reverse engineer where (likely to buy loyally) customers of certain brands reside in the US, by county — we’ve just entered supermodel arena of sexy (without Adobe Photoshop). The outcome? If you have a beauty brand and have a chance to sell through ULTA Beauty, you’ll not just have revenue opportunity but you’ll learn from Scott and be better targeted in your marketing efforts in all markets.

So, now you might be wondering where does this come from and what else did you miss at Scott’s presentation?

Here are some interesting facts and my interpretation.

1. Scott started college majoring in biology and now applies those analytical skills to natural systems. This crossover from looking at organic systems to business systems is a fantastic career path.

2. Scott sharpened his analytic incisors inside the corporate rotation program at Best Buy where he also finely tuned his beliefs about quantifying human behavior. As a hometown retailer, we have tremendous respect for the BBY training grounds and how that’s applied to other (non competitive) retailers.

3. He seeks truth in everything he does and believes in the outcomes that are based on quantifiable outcomes. Truth is a great horizon word for inspiration and hopefully direction, nice to hear it coming from analytics in beauty.

4. His lifelong mission is to move our culture in the direction of fact-based decision-making versus the current state of gut reactions based on limited facts. Culture changing efforts are best started with language (the currency inside corporations and Scott’s move of changing the popular misperception of analytics being a noun is a great start.

5. When working on the entire system to achieve his objectives in an organization he uses a stack of components to identify the weakest block and goes to work there first. These tie nicely back to the organic systems we see in biology and the place where Scott started his higher-level learning.

You may not have heard these in Scott’s presentation; these came from an interview after his session. Hopefully this gives you more depth of knowledge into the way Scott is thinking about the analytics behavior inside the modern retailer.

Thank you Scott for sharing at the Shopper Insights in Action conference.

Reach out if you’d like to hear more.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
Capsule Design


The Trend Commandments for Edgy Retailers, Brands, Researchers

Trend-watching is a perennial buzzword for brands and retailers, but rarely is its full power harnessed successfully. This presentation for the 14th Annual Shopper Insights in Action conference outlines the “trend commandments” to follow for success in identifying and taking advantage of industry trends.

Shared by: Jen Grant, SVP, Director of Brand Planning, 22squared (@jengrsnap) and David Yeend, VP, Planning Director, 22squared (@davidyeend).


Getting Ahead: Retail Innovation & Evolution

“You’ve got to do something different if you want a different result. We need to evolve” – Keynote Sir Terry Leahy. This sums up a lot of what we heard last week at the 14th Annual Shopper Insights in Action Conference in Chicago.

We also learned that how you tell the story is just as important as the story you’re telling, shopper messaging has to be 1) transparent/honest and 2) simple, how to use technology to simplify the consumer experience and so much more

Sir Terry Leahy, Former CEO, Tesco:

“Consumers want trusting relationships, they don’t want cold, transactional interactions.”

And now, we cannot wait for The International Shopper Insights in Action Event in Edinburgh.


Get Ready to Innovate at SIA International:

• Taking the Beer Category Further with Tesco
Jan Solta, Shopper Marketing Manager Off-trade, SABMILLER
Jiri Zeman, Category Development Manager, SABMILLER

• Winning Category Vision: Making it Happen
Anders Fisker Olesen, Global Head of Category Excellence, ARLA FOODS

• Closing the Purchase Decision Gap through Shopper Centricity
Richard Tolley, Joint Consumer and Shopper Lead, KANTAR RETAIL EUROPE
Steve Hildebrand, Director, KANTAR RETAIL EUROPE

• Bringing Shopper Insight into Reality
Kim Brown, Category Manager Meat, Fish & Poultry, SAINSBURY’S SUPERMARKETS

• Understanding Omnichannel Shopping and How it Impacts the Evolution of Category Strategy
David Tittensor, Category Director, WARBURTONS

For the full speaker list and programme information, download the brochure.

Plus, Stories Shared by:
• Heineken
• The Coca-Cola Company
• SABMiller
• Dansk Supermarkets
• Starbucks Coffee Company
Reckitt Benckiser
• WM Morrisons • Swarovski
Arla Foods
Bacardi-Martini Corporation
• Campofrio Food Group
• Kerry Foods
• Sanofi
• Tetra Pack
• And more….

The International Shopper Insights in Action Event is the most integrated, cross-market shopper agenda focused on strategy and activation.


Fast Follow-up: Liz Berman: Safeway



Fast Follow-up: Liz Berman,
Director of Portfolio Strategy, Safeway

With a background at Pepsi Co, Liz Berman brought the best of CPG marketing to retail private brands in Safeway. Her insights were shared across a keynote panel discussion and a more intimate track session at Shopper Insights. She is pushing out from the bubble of private brands into new land where some have gone but few have remained, premium lifestyle category private brands (Ex: O Organics).

The private brand idea has tremendous history in the US and Europe. Going way back, Sears and Roebucks was all private label brands — you could get a kit house delivered by train from this iconic retailer. Europe has, though, seen the highest level of private brand share, perhaps due to the philosophy of Marks & Spencer and their role as a leading UK retailer.

The private brands typically bring exclusivity (which hopefully turns into loyalty), higher profit margins and leverage when negotiating with national brands. Today, there are more opportunities for private brands to explore new territory because others haves gone there. While Sears is a historic leader with powerful brands like Craftsman, Diehard and Kenmore, other modern retailers like Target, Walmart and Trader Joe’s have made the most hay from private brands in recent decades. Whatever the case, the idea of private brand is evolving.

Of late, Safeway has been making some interesting moves as Liz and her team are applying the expertise of CPG to a scrappy retailer situation.

Here are some insights from an interview after her session:

  1. Knowing the difference between a private brand that drives loyalty and one that is the outcome of loyalty is essential. There are many situations where loyalty has other reasons and origins, but the private brand sees the fiscal results. Obviously, designing private brands to drive loyalty will have a greater impact on your role as the leader of your pay grade.
  2. As the private brand we can and need to be nimble in categories, whereas national brands need to keep factories running. We can fill in the gap left for a highly specialized option for consumers; we know the categories in retail with lower innovation, change or new product development. These are the areas where we can make an impact for our shoppers.
  3. Commodities are our friends. We know when a category is facing commoditization when shoppers are telling us price is the only reason for a decision between options. Therefore, we have an opportunity to enter the category with something that a national brand wouldn’t dare because it would infringe on existing sales. We may not be the primary innovators, but we can certainly spark the need for innovation and keep national brands sprinting forward.
  4. And, to tie it back to the subject of the conference, data and analytics are the driving force behind Safeway decision-making. Seeing the numbers and seeing through the numbers allows Safeway to identify opportunities where national brands may not be looking.

For context, the house of brands she is managing. Her emphasis has been around the lifestyle brands on the right and specifically, “O Organics,” “Open Nature” and “Eating Right.”

Liz Berman gave us a look from the chair of someone coming out of a Yale Undergrad and the Harvard Business School graduate program. She gave us a glimpse inside where she sees private brands going, if you couldn’t see it already from the brands they have been launching, improving and advancing in the past few years.

Thank you Liz for sharing your perspective at the Shopper Insights in Action conference.

Reach out if you’d like to hear more.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
Capsule Design



Shopper360: The Future of Retail: AT&T


The Future of Retail: Defining its Pure Purpose Paul Roth, President of Retail Sales and Service, AT&T Inc.

Paul Roth asks the large, complicated and challenging question, “will retail exist in the future?”

His answer: Yes.

But, the question still lingers as we depart from a conference about shopper insights. It’s an undeniable truth that dramatic change in retail is on our horizon, but – like most horizons – it’s hard to determine the distance and certainly challenging to navigate the right path.

AT&T has come a long way.

Few brands still exist with as much history in and around technology as AT&T; a history all loaded up on a large ship, moving slowly and deliberately into new markets. Consider the fact that AT&T was once a monopoly, easily compared to the US Post Office, now they are an adaptive retailer and telecom company (retailer placed first intentionally). Just consider taking a person from the beginning of last century and putting them into an AT&T store, they would likely identify them as a retailer first, telecom second.

Now, laurels in any tech related field lack the strength to hold a toddler, so they’re certainly not intended for a big brand to rely on. Hence, we hear the movements Paul Roth was pushing for and the places he was directing AT&T retail operations.

It started with listening, cautiously working towards understanding and structuring a plan for change.

What were the findings from research? How did the team at AT&T implement the new retail design experience? The top four expectations (and a bonus expectation) from shoppers were these:

1. Knowledgeable staff

Future of retail exists and is relevant, but it must be experiential. We have the physical need to touch, interact and feel the offering presented before us. And, we expect a subject matter expert to help us.

2. Personalized experience

“We are evolving from a phone store to an experience store.” Per Paul Roth, this movement is essential for survival. What makes retail fun? Instant gratification. This is the largest driver in retail. Going beyond a phone store means they present designed moments like the “personal theater” experience.

3. “Expert desk” tech-support

“Retail is the best place to tell a story that is complex, new or a high involvement purchase.” Large lifestyle-changing innovations are better presented in a retail environment and personalized manner as AT&T has designed. Home automation is certainly a great area of opportunity for AT&T to take a leadership position.”

4. Integrated omni-channel

The Paul Roth motivational quote of the week, “you can be replaced by a mouse click if these things don’t happen – if you don’t make the shopping experience exciting and relevant.” Truth can be hard to hear, but certainly good to change your perspective.

Bonus: Being social

“We missed this coming. We use it in public relations and we use it for social good. We’ve previously looked at it as a public relations issue.”

We are always impressed by moments of transparent honesty such as this. Shoppers don’t express a “need” for you to be present in social, the brand has a choice to enter the conversation. The AT&T brand still has a long way to go to achieve the status as a “social” brand, but it should be expected considering how far they’ve come.

Paul Roth gave us a window seat view inside his decision-making, team approach and methods for moving AT&T retail into an experience-driven retail future. And there is plenty more to be discussed. His honesty regarding Apple, being a phone store first and next moving into social media was very good to hear. And, while he mentioned AT&T’s efforts were meant to live up to the brand promise “rethink possible,” it was Paul who lived up to the promise in his speech.

Hopefully there are more leaders at AT&T looking to move the business forward. The brand has ample heritage in a category where history is scarce; we need to desire a brand we can trust.

Thank you, Paul, for carrying the torch and showing us what you have done and plan to do at AT&T Retail.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal, Research
Capsule Design



Live From #Shopper360: Trends To Kick Ass in 2014 and Beyond

David Mattin of started his discussion with an exercise that involved two ideas and whether or not they were good ideas, and what trends they brought up. The first example was for Royal Caribbean and featured a live streaming balcony for passengers without a view and this showed the blurring of boundaries between online and offline. The second example was Jeans Online and their idea is to have a courier bring a customer jeans and wait while they try them on and the trend of convenience was seen. Mattin brought up that you are not the only judge of a trend and in order to spot trends successfully you must look through the eyes of the customer. Mattin’s key thought throughout he talk was that expectations that are being cultivated online are arriving in the offline world. He then brought up five trends and cited examples of each.

1. Point-Know-Buy- This trend started as point and know and is the ability of a person to take a picture of something and know what it is. An example of this is L’Oreal Color Genius in which a user could  take a  picture of themselves and it would analyze clothes that the user was wearing and picks make up that matched. To be able to Point-Know-Buy in an instant is going to be the future. Virgin Atlantic staff has now been using Google Glass to source passenger info and hence their experience. Will this lead to Point-Know-Serve?

2. Sweat Equity- Involves consumers embracing and participating even if its difficult in order to receive a product or service. One example of this is Peddler’s Creamery which has their ice cream churned by pedal power and customers are asked to create product in order to buy it. Another example is Mattel with their idea to give out wifi minutes in exchange for solving word puzzles.

3. Data Divinity-  Data driven personalization is growing rapidly and technology seen in Smart Homes is becoming more mainstream. An example of this is Klepierre, a company that has a body scanning corridor that offers digital shopping recommendations based on gender and size. Chune has a speaker that combines the tastes of a group to play crowd pleasers and works by going through playlists on peoples phones.

4. Instant Makers- Making something instantly is becoming more popular and satisfies consumers desire not to wait. Topshop and Yr Store combined to make an instant t-shirt printing in a store. Another example is Lip Lab which allows shoppers to customize lipsticks in under ten minutes. DNA 3D has a shoe design concept that creates a perfect fit by wearing shoes with sensors that measure a customers foot in order to make the best shoe.

5. Heritage Heresy- A brand is its history and this doesn’t speak to the customer the same way that it used to. We all have access to same idea and old demographic categories don’t mean as much its harder to package one group together than it used to be. Moet and Chandon a traditionally expensive champagne company set up a vending machine in their UK high street store and vended champagne at an affordable price. Doing so they threw out their previous brand history. The Four Seasons food truck is another example of throwing away the previous brand history and doing something completely different.

Mattin ended with an urge for the audience to apply these trends. He also mentioned that it is important to think about who are you trying to reach and how can you reach them with theses examples.

About the Author:

Ryan Polachi is a contributing writer concentrating his focus on Marketing, Finance and Innovation. He can be reached at