Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Insights Interview: Q&A with Diana Powell, Conagra Brands

We sat down with OmniShopper speaker Diana Powell who is a Shopper Insights Manager at Conagra Brands, to discuss how retail is being disrupted.

How has retail been disrupted? 

Powell: In the food industry, traditional grocers are experiencing competition no longer just from other grocers, but from emerging channels of meal sourcing such as subscriptions, meal kits, offline and online wholesale/club stores, and hundreds of new delivery models.  Traditional brick and mortar stores are having to rethink how they do retail – with more ready-to-go options and elevating the shopping experience to draw shoppers in.

How has omnichannel impacted retail positively? 

Powell: We’ve been keeping a close eye on ecommerce and how it impacts shopping for food.  Shoppers view online shopping as complementary to their in-store experience and most don’t foresee it replacing all in-store.  Shoppers who are buying groceries in store AND online spend more overall than in-store only shoppers.

How is this new era of shopping everywhere impacting shopper insights? 

Powell: We must be ahead of the digital transformation to keep up with where shoppers are.  It’s not enough to just send the same old surveys to mobile phones, but we must find new ways to use cutting age big data to understand online behaviors that consumers don’t even know they are doing. Also, with the IoT, behavior and trends change faster than ever, so we need to update research and findings more frequently as to not lag in our reporting.

Additionally, in the food industry, we’ve also traditionally spent our time researching women. However, with equal proportions of men and women millennials doing the grocery shopping, we can’t have blinders to both genders!

How are shoppers shaping the future of retail?

Powell: In food ecommerce, there is a clash between the shopper’s perspective of value and the retailers when it comes to ecommerce.  Shoppers are used to shopping online for other categories (electronics, clothing, housewares, cleaning supplies, etc.) and when they shop online for these products, they are expecting to get great deals.  They have cost comparison sites and aps at their fingertips and are quick and savvy deal shoppers.  They apply this same thinking to their online grocery shopping and expect to find good prices and deals. 

However, food retailers think that because of the convenience of online grocery shopping, shoppers should be paying a premium.  They charge fees for pickup and delivery, charge higher prices for the same products, don’t integrate as many couponing options, and some even ask for a tip for the person delivering.  Shoppers are not willing to pay such a premium (only about $5) and therefore I don’t think we’re seeing the shift as quickly as it’s happened for other goods.  It will be fascinating to see how sites like and amazon, which are modeled to give shoppers great prices, will force the traditional brick-and-mortar- e-tailers to step up their price savings game.

Why is it important to link digital and physical shopper marketing? 

Powell: Even when shoppers are in a physical store, they are connected digitally.  Whether they are using their devices for shopping related activities or not depends on the minute! A buzz from their purse or pocket triggers a look, a distraction from the shelf, but also an opportunity to influence.  Of course, we must be mindful of respecting the shopper’s desires for how often/what we contact them about – making sure to give the appropriate value exchange customized to that shopper.

Where do you see retail moving in the next 5 years?  I’m excited to see a nice balance of the tangible and intangible.  I think retail shopping will become more immersive, experiential, and destination-based.  Offering the benefits that are near impossible to recreate. Perhaps even more analog, more customized. People have a desire to disconnect sometimes, and to return to the simple. Or on the contrary, offering high tech in-person experiences that aren’t possible in your own home is also going to happen.  I’m also excited to see the continuation of the tech explosion – with voice search leading the way for a lot of cool innovation.  Deliveries will be faster, subscriptions will grow, and brand loyalty may make a comeback when shoppers spend more time speaking to their devices versus searching through.

Don’t miss Powell’s session, “Knowledge is Power, If You Can Find It!” on June 20th at 3:40 PM in Minneapolis, MN. Use code OMNI17BL for $100 off the current rate:

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