One of the key aspects of both the Lean Startup Challenge and my UX class is getting out of the building. When creating a new product or service, it’s important to get to know your audience/customer segment, and it’s not enough to just assume you know the customers because they’re like you. For the Lean Startup Challenge, getting out of the building mostly means doing customer interviews. Not just grabbing people on the street and asking them questions, but actually using your network to find people who you know are already part of your customer segment and scheduling time to interview them. For my UX class, getting out of the building can also be field observation.
So with that in mind, Phil and I went to a small grocery store in our neighborhood at 2pm today (Saturday) to see how people shop for food. We made the following observations:
Customer type: We noticed that around 70% were solo shoppers, more women than men. Women outnumbered men around 2 to 1. Of the couples who shopped, they seemed to shop collaboratively and consulted each other on the items they purchased. The majority seemed to be between the ages of 30 and 40. Most of the older shoppers were women. There were not many shoppers with children; we only saw one or two children and they were young in age.
Shopping habits: We thought we’d see many people shopping from lists, when in fact, only around 10% were using a grocery list. Since the store is small, around 75% of shoppers were using a basket rather than a cart. Neither the baskets nor the carts were typically full. People seemed to spend the most time in the produce section, and they would typically spend about a minute deliberating on an item. They would look at and consider that item, but also scan around it before making their decisions. Not many people were shopping in the ethnic foods aisle, however there were a number of shoppers with an unusual combination of items; one lady had a plastic produce bag completely full of limes. Another man had very little in his cart, and the majority of it consisted of different types of meat and many bottles of vitamin water. Another guy was carrying one item along with an armload of lemons. It made me wonder what their diets were like or what they were planning on cooking.
We feel that most people use this store as a means of replenishing perishable items like produce and eggs on a more frequent basis. The overall pace in the store seemed relaxed, no one seemed to be rushing, and we estimate that people probably spend around 30 minutes in the store. Tomorrow we’re going to go to Jewel to see how it compares. Since Jewel is a much bigger grocery store, we expect to see some different patterns.