Our client operates a retail store in an airport in China, selling duty free goods to visitors.
Most visitors are domestic travelers, who are not normally expecting to be able to buy duty free goods
Sales are not as strong as expected, but it was not clear whether expectations needed to be adjusted or whether there was some remedial action that might be taken to bring sales up to expected levels.
The problem was vague enough that we decided the best approach was first to do some watching and listening to get a better sense of what was going on with travelers. So, we did a small amount of qualitative research with a few travelers and spent several days in the airport observing what travelers were doing.
With this background research, and through interviews with onsite management, we were able to develop several hypotheses about what was affecting sales and how they might be improved.
We then tested these hypotheses using very targeted quantitative research – targeted at specifically testing the hypotheses rather than generally surveying travelers through the airport.
The RIGHT Answer
Among the hypotheses advanced to understand what was happening in the airport were some proposed by those actually managing the operation at the airport that, if true, would have required considerable investment in communications, store redesign and brand assortment.
The facts of the research suggested that there was a fairly straightforward reason why sales were not meeting expectations and that a relatively small investment in targeted communications would most likely improve sales.