Measuring Omni-shopper Habits Brings Together Nielsen and The NPD Group

Shifting consumer behavior has left many retailers and brands wondering how to develop the perfect formula for successfully engaging shoppers.

To that end, data analytics firms Nielsen and The NPD Group recently announced a joint investment to better measure omni-shopper habits and gather insight into consumers’ needs.

“[The joint investment] creates the holistic view of what is going on,” said Marshal Cohen, who serves as the chief retail-industry adviser at Port Washington, NY–based The NPD Group. “Nielsen does a great job of tracking some of the businesses that we don’t track, and we get into certain categories and industries that they don’t track.”

To understand the omni-shopper, brands must examine the consumer mind-set that demands a new shopping experience. By combining their efforts, The NPD Group and New York City’s Nielsen are able to study the customer experience across industries and give brands greater insight into building retail strategy.

“We are bringing to the table a fundamentally new approach that starts with gaining a solid understanding of the omni-shopper, built to capture a consumer’s ‘share of life’ and end with a framework for clients that is truly future proofed,” John Tavolieri, Nielsen’s chief product and technology officer, said in a Feb. 21 statement announcing the joint investment.

Understanding the omni-shopper doesn’t end with developing options for consumers to buy online, on a mobile phone or at a store. Cohen explained that retail success lies in a brand’s ability to blend digital and in-store experiences to develop an omnipresence.

“Almost every retailer today offers an omni-channel experience,” he said. “This doesn’t guarantee success. What does guarantee success is when you see a retailer marrying the online experience with the in-store experience.”

Cohen also noted that bricks-and-mortar outposts remain an important part of the omni-shoppers’ experience as seen in the success of Target, Kohl’s and Costco during the holiday season. While the younger generation might find alternatives to purchasing high-ticket items, such as renting formalwear or trading goods, Cohen reminds retailers that the tactile component of shopping for apparel remains an important consideration for brands and transcends the generational gap.

“Take the pure-play online retailers—how many of them are looking to open up stores? Omnipresence works in both directions,” he said. “It’s not about age, it’s about the mind-set of the consumer that they want to be able to touch, feel, try on and experience it in a very different way than what online offers. It also adds credibility.”

With the change in traditional brand loyalty, establishing direct-to-consumer companies as a credible source for quality remains important. By giving a bricks-and-mortar experience to consumers as well as a strong digital presence, direct-to-consumer brands are able to move into a more omnipresent business model.

To develop a successful strategy for attracting the omni-shopper, Cohen urges brands and retailers to examine the new resources available to them as he feels that embarking on the task alone could prove unsuccessful.

“As retailers and brands try to navigate the challenges that today’s environment has brought forth, there are new tools, partnerships and alliances that exist to make their jobs easier and better,” he said. “It’s no longer good enough to read your own tea leaves. You need to look at the tea leaves that are surrounding yours to understand the whole story.”