Increase Sales at the Shelf: Phase 2, Aisle Flow

By September 15, 2012 No Comments

Third in a Four-Part Series


In the past two issues, we’ve been talking about our three-phase approach to understand your shoppers and generate insights to impact sales at the shelf — including CDTs, Aisle Flows, and Assortment and Arrangement research. 

This month we are focusing on Phase 2, Shopper IQ-Aisle Flow. An Aisle Flow study helps you understand the shopper-driven adjacencies and shopping flow of the categories in the aisle.

Why should I conduct an Aisle Flow Study?

An Aisle Flow study provides you a schematic on how to arrange the aisle. Once you have a strategic framework for how shoppers make decisions about which products to purchase and what criteria they use to evaluate them (such as from a CDT), a key next step is to apply the learning on how the shelf should be organized. It’s often best to start at the macro level, addressing such questions as:

  • Which categories belong in the aisle? Which ones don’t belong?
  • Which categories should be adjacent to each other? Which ones should lead the aisle?

We use both a rigorous quantitative approach along with qualitative input to provide you not only the “whats” but the “whys” behind them. It will provide you valuable input to create alternate arrangements for further testing.

When should I conduct an Aisle Flow study?

If the current aisle arrangement is not based on consumer needs and shopping habits, we suggest you conduct an Aisle Flow study. It’s best to conduct one once you understand the aisle’s structure and how shoppers make buying decisions in it (i.e. a Consumer Decision Tree study). This learning sets the stage so you can clearly articulate the categories in shopper language, and it provides you a broader context for interpreting the Aisle Flow findings.

If the aisle has had some significant changes recently, now would be a good time to conduct an Aisle Flow study. If new categories are being formed or if some are in decline, the overall flow may need to be updated.

How does an Aisle Flow study work? What do I get?

The data collection is a very intuitive and engaging exercise. Consumers virtually build an aisle and organize the categories based on their needs and what would make it easiest for them to shop. Shoppers are able to “throw out” categories that they feel don’t belong on the aisle as well as identify other categories that should be included in the aisle.


Based on these exercises, you will learn:

  • Which groups of categories are best shelved together and why
  • Which groups of categories should lead the aisle, and how the aisle should flow
  • Within the groups, how the categories should be arranged
  • Which categories belong on the shelf and which ones don’t fit as well

Can you give me an example?

A leading manufacturer with several entries in a large aisle wanted to better understand how to arrange it from a shopper perspective. We learned that, at the highest level, consumers think about the aisle by a chronology of consumption throughout the day.

Then, within each consumption time, specific adjacencies were identified for many of the categories. We learned that there are very few categories that are currently in the aisle that don’t belong there, but shoppers identified some niche categories that could be moved into the aisle.

This was valuable learning for the client, since it’s not how the aisle is currently arranged. This flow is also beneficial to the retailer since the categories leading the aisle are higher margin ones. We have seen that what leads the aisle leads in purchasing behavior. The next step is to create alternative arrangements based on the consumer input and measure the shopping impact using a ShopperIQ-Arrangement study utilizing virtual shopping.

“Decision Insight’s Aisle Flow approach provides the valuable shopper-driven input to create optimal aisle arrangements. It uncovers the broader context in which consumers shop the aisle and determines what should lead the aisle as well as the key adjacencies to enhance the shopping experience. Having conducted several of these studies recently, I can see the value-add they provide our clients.”
– Alex Sodek, Chief Research Officer, Decision Insight

Want to learn more or discuss your business issue? Please contact Leslie Downie at

Next month: Phase 3, ShopperIQ -Assortment and Arrangement