‘Big brother’ methods used in retail sales market research

Shoppers behavior is recorded by in-store cameras.

April 6, 2010 04:28
1 minute read.
Shoppers behavior is recorded by in-store cameras.

Shoppers behavior is recorded by in-store cameras. 311. (photo credit: ron friedman)


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Commercial espionage is gaining ground in Israel as a way of battling fierce competition in the retail sales market.

“The world of market research is gradually becoming dominated by ‘big brother’ methodologies,” said Dr. Iris Kalka, the owner of Tel Aviv-based Kalka Research, a firm that offers market research and consultancy services to a variety of Israeli companies. “People might not know that they are being observed or followed.”

In the cut-throat world of retail sales, companies require hordes of information to keep ahead of the competition.

Firms like Kalka’s help retailers get into the heads of buyers and potential shoppers.

Compiling information based on observed behavior and combining it with post-purchase interviews, Kalka can retrace the decision-making process that takes place in a buyer’s mind, from the moment they pass the display of the establishment to the cash register.

She then uses the information to advise clients how they can better meet the consumers’ desires and, ideally, increase purchases.

Kalka told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Israelis have been quick to adopt new technologies that make the collection of information faster, easier and more objective.

“With the infiltration of video cameras to the public space, it is all too easy to follow consumers. New Web content extraction engines, in addition, each day draw fresh data on what consumers are saying about brands and about their shopping patterns,” she said.

But observation is just part of the process, Kalka said, and to truly get into the mind of the shopper, the old-fashioned interview by a sensitive and trained researcher is still key.

“While we adopt new methodologies inspired by new technologies, we do not necessarily abandon old methodologies,” she said.

During a busy day at Rishon Letzion’s Kanyon Hazahav, the Post followed Kalka, hand-held monitoring device in hand, and heard about the rapidly developing world of commercial espionage.

The full article will appear in the upcoming issue of the Metro supplement that comes with the Friday paper outside of Jerusalem.

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