Intercepts are a qualitative method of research, carried out ‘in-situ’ with consumers. They tend to be quick, no more than 7-8 minutes, and are an extremely useful way of gaining lots of insight in a very time and cost effective way.
Customers are approached, usually whilst they are carrying out or completing a shopping journey – perhaps browsing a fixture or exiting a shop – and are asked to take part. Some eligibility questions may be asked upfront and customers may be offered a small incentive for taking part (though this is not always the case). The number of intercepts that can be achieved will vary depending on the research topic but 10 to 20 per day is a reasonable range.
Unlike interviews, intercepts are intended to be more conversational in nature. Though the researcher may follow a rough discussion guide, the structure and content of each intercept is malleable and will largely be determined by how the discussion evolves.
There are lots of benefit of using intercepts in-store to answer a research question:
– MOMENT OF TRUTH
You can gain rich ‘Moment of Truth’ customer feedback by intercepting them during or shortly after an experience.
– UTILISE STIMULUS
You can utilise stimulus, such as example signage or product prototypes, to prompt feedback and better understand reactions.
Compared with a quantitative interview, you tend to have a less structured schedule allowing respondents time to clearly explain, in their own words and in rich detail, their reactions to the topic.
– SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
You can get a feel for the language used to talk about the topic – what words and terminology do customer’s use?
You can use the insights developed from intercepts to inform further stages of research. You can identify key areas to focus on, what language to use and recognise any gaps in understanding.
We have a wealth of experience conducting intercepts at Marketing Sciences Unlimited. Here are my top tips for conducting great intercepts:
1. DON’T BE AFRAID OF BEING TURNED DOWN
No one likes to be told ‘No’ but the more customers you ask, the more chance you have of success.
2. KNOW THE DISCUSSION GUIDE
Know what topics you want to cover in the time you have and the general order in which you want to tackle them.
3. BUT DON’T BE CONSTRAINED BY IT
You don’t need to follow the discussion guide line by line; instead follow the respondent’s stream of consciousness to allow for more open, dynamic and natural conversation.
You may also find that some questions are answered very quickly and consistently while others require more debate. The beauty of intercepts is that you can adjust your approach and the focus points of each interview as you go.
4. BE HONEST
About what the task will involve and what the respondent should expect – if you know it will take 10minutes, tell them upfront; if you want to video record them, mention it early on – you want respondents to trust you so you need to get off on the right foot.
5. BE AWARE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT
This is especially important if you are audio or video recording as noisy backgrounds (store checkouts/exits) can jeopardise the quality of your recordings; once you have ‘intercepted’ the respondent, pick somewhere quiet and close by to complete the interview.
A smile goes a long way; be open and approachable so customers are happy to stop and chat to you.
7. WEAR COMFY SOCKS
Intercepts are nearly always carried out on foot and if you are going to be standing up for a long period, make sure you’re comfortable!
Megan Knapp is a Research Manager in the Retail & Customer Experience team.Subscribe