Retail Interest

Retail Case: How important is getting 1st recommendation from store personnel?

by Jimmy Ho on 11/13/2017

Getting products displayed on shelves is critical, but the recommendation made by store personnel can also be highly influential – they appear to be the most reliable and knowledgeable person in the store. We will ask the store personnel for recommendation when we have little or even no understanding of the products. Knowing how they actually introduce your product is not easy. But, under the cover of mystery shopper, it will give you the moment of truth as this recent nationwide Infant Milk Formula mystery shopping program in HK shows.

(Nationwide Infant Milk Formula in HK covering 51 Chain Drugstores: Mannings and Watsons)


  • Not all the store personnel will take time to understand the customer – one-third of store personnel (19 out of 51) did not ask the shopper any questions during the conversation. They simply made their own assumptions and then recommended a product.



  • Nearly two-third of store personnel were unable to highlight the Advantage/ Benefit of the product while recommendation – Only one-third of them can highlight the Advantage or Benefit of the recommended products (ie. “Organic formula”, “Hydrolyzed formula”, “Close to breast milk”, “Easy to absorb”, “neutral” etc). The remaining only mentioned that the recommended products are ‘popular’.
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  • Store personnel may have their own preference when recommending products – when prompting for a recommendation of Infant Milk Formula product targeting 6 months old baby, 3 brands (Mead Johnson, Friso and Wyeth) appear to dominate, accounting for nearly 80%.



  • Nearly two-third of store personnel will recommend more than 1 brand – around 62.7% of store personnel will recommend more than 1 brand when making recommendation, average 2 brands in total.



With real time checking on how store personnel recommend brands and products, we can better understand sales performance – and how to improve it. Recommendation tracking can also inform on the relative gain/loss between own brands and competitors, and improve understanding of overall category trends over time.