VR helps Kellogg's improve new product shelf placements

18 June 2020 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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Accenture and Qualcomm have developed a VR solution with embedded eye-tracking to help Kellog’s put ideas on the shelving of its new products to the test. Kellog’s used the technology to determine that placing its new Pop-Tart Bites on lower shelves would result in around a 20% reduction in sales.

Shelf management is not a new concept to retail small business owners. At its most basic level, it's the practice of managing existing shelf space to more efficiently stock products. In recent decades it has taken on a whole new level of psychology-based social engineering, however. The placement of certain retail products on certain shelves is proven to improve sales, depending on their colour, size, shape (such as fresh vegetables or fruit), as well as their correlation to other ‘related products’ they might be purchased in combination with (beer and crisps for example).

At the same time, it is often theorised that products which are placed on certain parts of a shelf – like at the beginning of an aisle – see their performance inhibited. A customer needs time to adjust to being in an aisle, so it takes a little time before they can decide what to buy. Such is the perceived importance of a products shelf placement that companies often engage experts just to help them decide where they should be placed in a store, and how to make the most of that position once the product is there.

To that end, when foods giant Kellogg’s launched a new variant of its famous Pop-Tarts line, the cereal specialist turned to consultancy Accenture and technology firm Qualcomm to develop a solution which would help with its shelf management. Qualcomm creates intellectual property, semiconductors, software, and services related to wireless technology, while Accenture is a multifaceted advisory firm which has rapidly strengthened its design and marketing wings in recent years. The two firms’ collaboration subsequently provided Kellog’s with a unique and innovative solution: an immersive virtual reality experience.

Based on Kellogg’s real-world need to test the shelf placement, assortment and pricing strategy for its Pop-Tarts Bites launch, Accenture worked to design a scenario that showcased consumers in a full-scale, simulated store, enabling them to move through the space, shop, pick up products and place them in carts. The resulting scenario features embedded eye-tracking software, which provides info of what the shoppers are looking at, for how long – providing deeper insights into purchasing behaviour. Kellogg’s was also enabled to alter several variables of the set up like placement to quickly measure the impact on purchasing.

As expected, different placements of the product did indeed make a huge difference. If the Pop-Tarts bites were placed on a lower shelf, rather than a higher shelf, where customers are used to finding newer products, sales of the new product would drop by 18%. Meanwhile, eye-tracking data showed that the presence of Kellogg's new Pop-Tarts Bites drew attention to other Kellogg's products on the shelf.

Jenny McDaniels, Senior Manager Strategy, Kellogg's, commented, “The methods resulted in a higher contextual understanding, enabling a holistic solution. As VR continues to expand, Kellogg's remain keenly interested in the future of buying behaviour across different categories. ”

The results of VR testing demonstrated the major opportunities technology offer to analyse buyer behaviour. Technology like VR can enable store owners to reduce the scale and cost of their market research, while increasing its speed, by implementing eye-tracking and VR testing. Like Kellogg's, they could subsequently generate much more data on buying behaviour to perfect their holistic merchandising strategy in future, maximising sales.