Friday, July 17, 2009

ASDA Asks Customers What They Want

Ever want to tell a retailer exactly what you want to see in a local store? If you live in the UK, you can now give a major retailer direct feedback about what you do and don't want on store shelves.

ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart) sponsors a "Pulse of the Nation" e-panel of customers to find out which new products they're interested in seeing in their local ASDA stores. As its press release explains, "Pulse of the Nation is sponsored by Asda but owned and operated by the market research firm TNS which operates in over 70 countries worldwide and does research in almost every country of the world." Consumers must apply to join the panel; once they become members, they're entered into a monthly prize drawing as a reward for participation.

According to a WSJ article, ASDA is sending panel members photos of potential new products (as selected in the Far East by its buyers) and asking which should be stocked in a neighborhood ASDA store.

I like the panel idea, although as a former retail manager (and a shopper), I know that people don't always know what they'll like until they can pick it up, read the label, and check the size or color. Even if people don't buy a product today, they might decide to buy in the future. Needs are always changing, and panel members' votes could very well vary from day to day and season to season. Still, Pulse of the Nation is a very promising concept for bringing the voice of the customer into retail merchandising decisions.

I wonder: Will ASDA let the panel know members voted on a particular item? And will it abide by the panel's votes as the final decision on what will be stocked?

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