Mobile app lets grocery shoppers give feedback on new products while they shop

A new mobile app has been launched to enable CPG companies to get instant feedback on new product concepts from target consumers while they are grocery shopping. uSamp, the developer of the mobile app, said this will slash the time and money spent on testing new product ideas.

While food marketers have been using online consumer panels to provide feedback about purchase intent for new product concepts, uSamp’s mobile concept testing app enables CPG firms to engage with hundreds of target shoppers via their smartphones in real time and at the point of purchase, said uSamp’s vice-president of product innovation Justin Wheeler.

He added that more than 380,000 consumers in the US and 100,000 in the UK have downloaded uSamp’s app to their smartphones and agreed to participate in real-time market research projects.

How the app works

Here’s how works. If a cereal company wants feedback on some potential line extensions, using templates provided by uSamp, it can quickly load up a range of concepts and questions onto the platform and then identify shoppers in uSamp’s database that it wants to approach. uSamp’s database collects more than 180 attributes from demographic data to purchasing behaviour.

When these shoppers visit a grocery store, they receive a push notification on their mobile phones asking them to take a look at the new cereal concepts on their phones as they shop in the cereal aisle.

Wheeler said the kind of feedback that companies get about purchase intent when people are standing in the aisle versus a focus group is very different. “It is out of context when they are at home sitting on the sofa or at a focus group in a hotel.”

The concept testing app can help brand managers narrow down options rapidly and cost-effectively at the early stages of the product development process so that the right products are put in front of the focus groups later on, said Wheeler.

The app can also be used at every stage of the product development process. “To start with, you could do early stage screening of your product concepts with hundreds of online panellists for an early read, and then once you have honed in which ones have the most potential, you can then pitch these to cereal category buyers in real-time as they stand in the aisle,” Wheeler explained.

In the next stage, the company could send prototype products to people in their homes for evaluation and gather instant feedback.

Wheeler said CPG clients, who have been working with uSamp on perfecting the tool for about a year, are excited about its potential to help them gather insights more cheaply and quickly from larger groups of target consumers.

One popular feature of the concept test platform is the Shelf Score index, which measures intent to purchase. “Shelf Score is designed to give companies instant access and an early reading on consumer sentiment about new products and brands,” said Wheeler.