There's one element of human nature that makes researching shopper intentions a minefield: people often don't do what they say.
That's as true online as it is in real life. In a panel at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) 2012 Re:think annual conference in New York, Bob Bowman, Unilever Shopper Insights Manager, observed: "It's important to understand not just what people say online but what they're actually doing," with so much information about and so many shoppers from so many different sources.
To resolve the confusion, Unilever partnered with the online analytics firms Compete and Cymfony and the research agency Rubinson Partners to determine "how digital influence changes the purchase funnel."
Research objectives included:
- Understanding how consumers' online interactions influence store choice and product choice.
- Helping direct both online and bricks-and-mortar marketing initiatives.
- Evaluating how such high-level issues as health-and-wellness and the economy affect shoppers.
- Providing thought leadership to customers and provoking meaningful conversations about the future of digital.
CybrTrak is a program developed by Rubinson Partners and described by Joel Rubinson, the firm's President/founder, as a "CPG shopper insights-to-action platform that listens to conversations via social media monitoring and analyzes what shoppers do in terms of their digital shopper planning behaviors."
In other words, it's a service that differentiates intent from action. "From this ‘say/do' model," Rubinson continued, "Unilever is able to construct shopper marketing programs for their retail customers that create shared growth by providing information and solutions that shoppers seek as they plan their meals and their shopping trips."