Danielle Pinnington: “Understanding shoppers is vital: M&S amongst others need to be more creative.”


Having spent 12 years as a researcher specialising in the world of NPD and branding, Pinnington rose to the position of Deputy MD at Research International before joining Incite Marketing Planning as a Board Director. In 2004 she founded Shoppercentric which provide brand owners and retailers, including Travis Perkins, Coca Cola and Philips with the perspective that drives shopper marketing and retail strategies. Now she leads a team of seven staff including an ex head of research at M&S and a director with a decade of experience of providing shopper insight for Sainsbury‘s and Cadbury. In the cosy surroundings of Mayfair‘s Charlotte Street Hotel, we let Danielle get a few things off her chest.

The big four supermarkets are ‘under pressure‘ according to grocery analyst experts Kantar Wordpanel but they are fighting back. Sainsbury‘s are set to see their convenience offering outnumber their supermarkets for the first time by the end of the year and Morrison‘s will crank out over 100 smaller ‘M‘ stores across the UK by the beginning of 2014. This growing trend could prove vital to the big fours fortunes. We discuss the growing trend of supermarket convenience stores and how the big four are adapting to their new locations – just round the corner from where you live.

“We‘re getting a sense that supermarkets are recognising that they need to be more tailored in what they are doing. When Tesco launched Extra/Metro originally, it was as if they simply squished it down from a standard supermarket planogram”, she says.

“But what you‘re seeing now is they are taking stock from what the local requirements are; whether that‘s catering for different cultural needs or reflecting the fact there isn‘t anything local in the area for miles around – so you can almost see the thought ‘let‘s start selling some local produce. Let‘s have an area where you can buy local jams etc. and support the local community.‘

“My interpretation would be that that is because they are giving local managers more opportunity to flex, they are recognising the benefit from having a more local planogram. Co-op have always done it, and it‘s taken the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury‘s longer to catch on. But you‘re starting to see it flex more as they are chasing the convenience sector – and that will only work well if delivered against the local needs. I think you‘ll see more and more of it, particularly in London.”

According to the ONS report in July on the retail industry, sales volumes sold by retailers rose by 3 per cent as the industry experienced growth for the third successive month and Pinnington believes that talk of the high street being dead is far too premature with British entrepreneurial spirit so prevalent in the UK.

“The development of Click & Collect could help with high street regeneration. We‘ve got a very entrepreneurial retailing industry so talk of the high street being dead is way too premature and we‘re seeing some really great ideas and innovations out there.

“The high street will look very different but the biggest challenge is understanding what shoppers want and how to tailor an offer to fit them. Mobile could be used to bring people through loyalty initiatives. It‘s difficult because shoppers‘ needs will change depending on what you present to them. It tends to still feel that retail is about: ‘We‘ve got all these ideas and this is what we should do. Rather than, ‘What do shoppers want and how can we create and change our offer to better meet their needs.‘”

It is hardly surprising that Pinnington is so focussed on the customers‘ experience – her company is called ‘Shoppercentric‘ after all…

Citing an example from 2004 when Asda and Tesco launched TV s