London Revisited: ‘Research is creating new knowledge’ Neil Armstrong

 

Another day in London, another early start: but this time I had spent the past two weeks writing up and analysing the data, rather than just collecting it, and so I felt more confident in my research. This enabled me to ask my Body Shop contacts the questions that were really key to my research findings rather than questions purely about The Body Shop and ethical trading in general.

Top Tip: When on a placement like this, it’s best to know your own data inside out, as well as the background of the company. This makes the time spent there more productive and rewarding.

Firstly, I met the Customer Relationship Management team – their job is to analyse qualitative data about customers, such as what products they buy and when. Although both came from a mathematical background, they mentioned that they had worked with Geographers before as statistics is a key part of any Geography degree.

Personally, I find statistics fascinating but I’m not that mathematically minded, so they kindly offered to help me with any statistical analysis for my dissertation – I have taken their emails just in case!

Later in the day I met another mathematician; an international commercial analyst who evaluates incremental sales, impact of rival brands and profit margins. As well as this they undertake anything that needs a statistically minded person, such as space optimisation in stores! The main reason I was talking to the mathematician was to hear about promotions that The Body Shop put on. I was told that to drive sales and footfall in the store and shift volume of the more profitable items there are 3 main types of promotion:

1. Increase overall spend of customer (such as, spend £25 and get £5 off)

2. Cross category promotions, to encourage customers to try new things

3. Non-money promotions (such as pushing an ingredient and the benefits of it, in the case of The Body Shop this could be one of the community fair trade ingredients)

This is interesting as cost is coming up as one of the bigger barriers preventing young women buying ethical products. Also, when discussing the Western culture of special offers and deals it was clear that the mathematician thought this was important too.

After lunch I met an international researcher who explained that there are 4 pillars of research: consumer research, brand research, product research and store research. Unfortunately, most of the Body Shop’s own research is confidential and so has to be cleared before I can look through it. But I gained an interesting insight from what the researcher could tell me. Following a survey conducted 3 years ago an attitude-behaviour gap was found: customers all claimed to care about The Body Shop values but not all of them bought the products with those values. Also, customers’ own emotional responses to the brand are seen as just as important as the media influence. These findings are extremely relevant to my research.

I was quite nervous showing my research to the international researcher, as she is clearly an expert in this field, but she seemed impressed and called my work mature – so that shows promise!

My research is going well – I’ve completed another focus group but apart from that I’m at a lull in data collection until September when I can target university students to fill in my questionnaires! Next week I’m at The Body Shop Headquarters in Littlehampton, so hopefully that goes as well as today did – I’ll let you know!

 

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