What Is an ‘Accompanied Shop Visit’ In Qualitative Research?

If you receive paid market research participant invitations, you may have heard the term ‘accompanied shopping’ to describe a specific kind of research activity you can take part in. In case you were wondering what it meant, there is no great mystery.

Some people say the British high street is in decline, but shops are still where most retail businesses make their biggest sales and profits, even today. In any typical high street or shopping mall you will see similar clusters of shops, such as boutiques, supermarkets or pharmacy-cosmetics outlets… often there are lots of shops in one area selling pretty similar categories of goods to one another.

So, what makes the difference to you as a consumer, when you decide between them whereabouts to go and spend your money? Of course there are a range of factors including price, convenience, and knowing you can get what you want – but with crunched credit and squeezed margins, advertisers and marketers have never been more keen to understand exactly what it is that can motivate you to go in and spend in one shop, whilst passing by the one next door.

Accompanied shopping trips are when a researcher tags along beside you, whilst you try to behave and respond as ‘normally’ as possible on a typical retail experience. Of course the experience is inevitably constructed to some degree, because you will be asked to think about and explain certain actions and activities as you do them – things you probably don’t even think about normally, especially in typical everyday shopping for inexpensive consumer goods.

Because these things are sold in such high volumes however, understanding exactly what makes you decide between one brand and another is of priceless value to marketers. What first caught your eye in that display fixture? What stood out? What did that packaging suggest to you – about the value, quality, attractiveness of the item? The researcher will be discussing and probing as you move around the store, and may also want to interview you in more depth over a coffee before or after, to really get to the heart of what makes you choose in the way that you.

Taking part in an accompanied shop is great fun, because the people normally recruited tend to be those who love to shop anyway! And if you enjoy shopping, then going shopping with someone who is genuinely interested in what you are doing and why and encouraging you to reflect on it and discuss it, never mind actually paying for your time in so doing, is a fantastic experience! Yes, you heard that right, market researchers will pay not just your shopping costs in many cases, but also always pay a reward for your time – typically between £30 and £60 for an accompanied shopping session with interview, lasting for a couple of hours in total.

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