POV: Literally Through The Eyes Of The Customer

I was interested to see that the season premiere of this year’s “Undercover Boss” featured Mitch Modell, the CEO of one of our local sporting goods retail chains. In promoting the show, Mr. Modell made a number of appearances on area media to discuss the experience and what he had learned. In reflecting on it all, he observed that being put on the front lines (in disguise for those who haven’t seen the show) of his retail operations, transformed the way he looks at his business and gave him a new sense of appreciation for the integral role that his sales associates play in shaping the customer experience. This sounds a lot like what we learn for clients when immersing ourselves in retail ethnography and other observational research.

Getting a true read on what the customer thinks and how he or she is treated has always been a key element of marketing research. In the past couple of years, SLRG research teams have conducted a series of retail shop alongs and intercept research for retailers, sporting goods companies and other clients that rely heavily on gaining a better understanding of the customer experience. In a June 2012 Media Post item, I wrote extensively about how today’s micro video recorder technology makes it quite easy and unobtrusive for a team of researchers to embed themselves in a customer facing environment and using a combination of observational and qualitative interviewing techniques, gain valuable insights. You can read that piece, here. Also, look for an article on some similar research that we conducted for a leading golf equipment company in the December issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review. We’ll be sure to post that story on www.sportsandleisureresearch.com and link to it in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.