Target Boycotters: More Bark Than Bite?

Target Gender Neutrality


On August 7, Target announced that it would be removing gender-based labels in the Toy, Home, and Entertainment departments of their stores, and Americans were quick to blow up their favorite social media channels with statements of support or anger.

If we’ve learned anything about the Internet, we know that whenever someone is willing to share an opinion, there’s another person willing to mock that opinion.  One man took it upon himself to pose as a Target customer-service agent to “help” the myriads of angry Facebook-ers.


Target Troll


Thank goodness InfoScout is in the business of measuring behavior and sentiment rather than expressing it.  It could have been us on the receiving end of that help.

With waves of individuals claiming they would never shop at the retailer again, we used InfoScout’s real-time visibility into Target and its competitors (online and offline) to determine whether actual shopping behavior mirrored the online proclamations.  Early data indicates that the boycott claims propagating Facebook and Twitter may have been more emotional release than reality, as Target’s share of shopping households and trips remained at a general flatline.


Target Shopping Over Time


It could be that the instantaneous nature of posting on social media captures fleeting emotional spikes rather than lasting sentiments – proclaimed boycotters’ momentary anger may have been quickly replaced by the convenience of shopping at one of Target’s 2,000 nationwide stores.

It Wouldn’t Be The First Or Last Time A Social Media Rant Ended Up Being Inaccurate In Retrospect.


Jaden Smith Tweet


InfoScout provides real-time insights into the path to purchase.  Contact us to discover how a new generation of shopper & consumer insights can be applied at your company.

Apple Pay Adoption Losing Steam

Earlier this year, InfoScout teamed up with PYMNTS to begin tracking the adoption of Apple Pay.  At last week’s Retail Reinvention conference in Chicago, CEO Jared Schrieber shared why Apple executives should be concerned.

First, consider the changing profile of shoppers capable of completing an Apple Pay transaction.  As we get farther away from the iPhone 6 launch last September, we see a growing population of Apple Pay eligible shoppers who are upgrading their devices based on the timing of their mobile plans rather than the desire to own cutting-edge technology.  The shrinking percentage of iPhone 6 users driven by innovation has resulted in a rapid decline in the share of users willing to sample Apple’s new means of payment.


Apple Pay Adoption Bell Curve

Apple Pay Attempters


The latest survey results reinforced data from March, indicating that Apple needs to increase education and awareness among its consumers to become a relevant player in the world of payments.  “Very few Americans understand why they should even consider using Apple Pay.  They don’t have a problem with their current payment methods, so why fix it?,” Schrieber noted.


Survey - why Apple Pay is not being tried


Read more in the Full Article published on the PYMNTS website, and contact us if there are business questions you’d like to answer via the nation’s largest purchase panel.


Kraft’s Macaroni Recall: Early Numbers Indicate Sizable Losses

Mac with metal

On March 17, Kraft issued a massive recall of 6.5M macaroni & cheese units after consumers reported finding metal pieces in the boxes.  With purchase metrics from ~250K panelists and our mobile-survey capabilities, we jumped at the opportunity to determine the impact the news had on the Kraft brand, its competitors, and the category.

In the first seven days following the announcement, the number of Kraft macaroni & cheese shoppers dropped 21% from three weeks prior.  We surveyed shoppers who bought the Kraft product after the announcement, and among them, only 37% had heard about the metal in the boxes.   Combine the relatively low recall-awareness among Kraft faithfuls with the sizable drop in the brand’s household penetration, and it’s fair to say that recall-aware shoppers decided to take their money elsewhere.  Which brands benefitted most from the lapsed 21% of shoppers?  It certainly wasn’t Kraft’s competitors – the entire category dropped 14%, indicating a strong degree of synchrony between Kraft Mac & Cheese and the macaroni & cheese category.




In order to respond effectively and immediately, brands and retailers need real-time awareness of how health-related news impact shoppers’ decisions.  With the recent announcement of the avian flu outbreak and Blue Bell recall, marketers should ask themselves whether they have actionable data to optimize their company’s response.  Contact us today to find out why InfoScout has been called “the next revolution in shopper insights” by the largest companies in the game.

This study was conducted using InfoScout’s proprietary receipt-capture technology, which tracks over 150K shopping trips a day from nearly 250K active panelists.  Our ability to survey people based on their purchases give us unprecedented visibility into the why-behind-the-buy.  Check out our website for more info on our data and solutions. 

iPhone versus Android: What Your Phone Says About Your Shopping Habits

The phone you carry says a lot about you.  Some might argue that the sparkly sequinned case you have around your phone says even more, but here at InfoScout, we promise to never judge you.  We will, however, leverage our panel of 250K mobile-powered participants to explore the relationship between phone choice and purchase behavior.

We recently attended a conference where a retailer claimed that 80% of their shoppers had iPhones based upon the web traffic they see by mobile device type.   Rather than using website visits as a proxy for in-store visits, we decided to quickly measure the real-world shopping behavior of our consumer panelists.  With the understanding that the average American is 12% more likely to be carrying an Android phone than an iPhone, we were able to determine the following:


Smartphones Preference, Fast Food


It shouldn’t be a surprise that restaurants and grocery stores that cater to more affluent buyers are more likely to see iPhone carriers making purchases.


Smartphones Preference, Grocery


Smartphone Split


We also analyzed the iPhone and Android breakouts in head-to-head comparisons of top stores within a few retailer channels.


Understanding shoppers’ phone preference is just the tip of the iceberg for InfoScout.  In addition to our real-time visibility into purchases across all categories and channels, we collect demographic, psychographic, and survey data to help us build the most comprehensive understanding of US shoppers, their buying behavior, and the motivations driving their actions.


 About our data:

This blog study includes data taken from over 7-million receipt submissions by 150,133 iPhone users and 108,673 Android users of InfoScout’s Shoparoo and Receipt Hog mobile apps. Special thanks to the team at App Annie for helping us normalize the ratio of iPhone-to-Android phone users in our panel to the true census ratios reflected in this study.  To learn more about InfoScout’s data and solutions please visit

InfoScout Turning Heads for Effective Big Data Management

We do shopper insights pretty darn well at InfoScout, and our clients love the way our real-time capability gives them visibility into today’s purchase data today. With over 225K active panelists, InfoScout collects data from more than 150K shopping trips daily. That’s about 15X the amount of trips provided by other leading shopper panels, and with our 98% month-over-month panelist retention rate, we’re constantly evolving our practice of managing vast quantities of data.

How do we do it? BriefingsDirect, a B2B-focused podcast, interviewed a few of our folks to learn how we manage so much data so effectively.  Check out a few excerpts below, or Listen to the full podcast or Download the full transcript.

Novel Consumer Retail Behavior Analysis From InfoScout Depends on Big Data Chops from HP Vertica

Transcript of a Briefings Direct podcast on how a consumer research and data analysis firm is gleaning marketing data from customers’ sales receipts.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Podcast Series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.

Our next innovation case study interview highlights how InfoScout in San Francisco gleans new levels of accurate insights into retail buyer behavior by collecting data directly from consumers’ sales receipts.

In order to better analyze actual retail behaviors and patterns, InfoScout provides incentives for buyers to share their receipts, but InfoScout is then faced with the daunting task of managing and cleansing that essential data to provide actionable and understandable insights.

We’re here with Tibor Mozes, Senior Vice President of Data Engineering at InfoScout.

We’re also joined today by Jared Schrieber, the Cofounder and CEO at InfoScout, based in San Francisco.

Gardner: Jared, let’s start with you. We don’t often get the option of choosing how the best data comes to us. In your business, you’ve been able to uniquely capture strong data, but you need to treat it a lot to use it and you also need a lot of that data in order to get good trend analysis. So the payback is that you get far better information on essential buyer behaviors, but you need a lot of technology to accomplish that.

Tell us why you wanted to get to this specific kind of data and then your novel way of acquiring it, please.

Schrieber: A quick history lesson is in order. In the market research industry, consumer purchase panels have been around for about 50 years. They started with diaries in people’s homes, where they had to write down exactly every single product that they bought, day-in day-out, in this paper diary and mail it in once a month.

About 20 years ago, with the advent of modems in people’s homes, leading research firms like Nielsen would send a custom barcode scanner into people’s homes and ask them to scan each product they bought and then thumb into the custom scanner the regular price, the sales price, any coupons or deals that they got, and details about the overall shopping trip, and then transfer that electronically. That approach has not changed in the last 20 years.

With the advent of smartphones and mobile apps, we saw a totally new way to capture this information from consumers that would revolutionize how and why somebody would be willing to share their purchase information with a market research company.

Gardner: Interesting. What is it about mobile that is so different from the past, and why does that provide more quality data for your purposes?

Schrieber: There are two reasons in particular. The first is, instead of having consumers scan the barcode of each and every item they purchase and thumb in the pricing details, we’re able to simply have them snap a picture of their shopping receipt. So instead of spending 20 minutes after a grocery shopping trip scanning every item and thumbing in the details, it now takes 15 seconds to simply open the app, snap a picture of the shopping receipt, and be done.

The second reason is why somebody would be willing to participate. Using smartphone apps we can create different experiences for different kinds of people with different reward structures that will incentivize them to do this activity.

For example, our Shoparoo app is a next-generation school fundraiser akin to Box Tops for Education. It allows people to shop anywhere, buy anything, take a picture of their receipt, and then we make an instant donation to their kid’s school every time.

Another app is more of a Tamagotchi game called Receipt Hog, where if you download the app, you have adopted a virtual runt. You feed it pictures of your receipt and it levels-up into a fat and happy hog, earning coins in a piggy bank along the way that you can then cash-out from at the end of the day.

These kinds of experiences are a lot more intrinsically and extrinsically rewarding to the panelists and have allowed us to grow a panel that’s many times larger than the next largest panel ever seen in the world, tracking consumer purchases on a day-in day-out basis.

Gardner: What is it that you can get from these new input approaches and incentivization through an app interface? Can you provide me some sort of measurement of an improved or increased amount of participation rates? How has this worked out?

Schrieber: It’s been phenomenal. In fact, our panel is still growing by leaps and bounds. We now have 200,000 people sharing with us their purchases on a day-in day-out basis. We capture 150,000 shopping trips a day. The next largest panel in America captures just 10,000 shopping trips a day.

In addition to the shopping trip data, we’re capturing geolocation information, Facebook likes and interests from these people, demographic information, and more and more data associated with their mobile device and the email accounts that are connected to it.

Listen to the full podcast or Download the full transcript.

Apple Pay: What’s to Blame for the Slow Adoption?


slow apple pay

At Innovation Project 2015, InfoScout shared heavily-anticipated findings from our Apple Pay Adoption Tracker survey.  Why have shoppers been slow to switch from traditional payment methods? What are Apply Pay adopters saying about their experiences? Discover the data that caught the attention of VentureBeat, Business Insider, and others.

Apple Pay Adoption: Improving, But Still A Long Way To Go

85% of iPhone 6 owners in the U.S. haven’t bothered trying Apple Pay, study claims

Black Friday Top Sellers – Brand Equity Trumps Affordability

While Thanksgiving Day has been gaining steam as a legitimate calendar contender, Black Friday is still widely recognized as retail’s biggest day.  This year’s Friday shoppers brought their brand preferences with them to the stores, and the line defining the weekend’s top performing products shifted away from economy brands and toward trusted items.

Products from companies with lower brand equity, like Emerson and RCA, lost momentum on Black Friday after showing promising early sales indicators on Thanksgiving Day.  Apple, with a brand rating of 9.5/10 and remarkably positive sentiment to its credit, gained a significant share of sales across all retailers.



How did one company manage to get four of its products in the Black Friday top ten?  To what extent can brands with higher equity rely more heavily on customer loyalty than on reduced prices?  Should economy brands consider investing in their image to help offset the need to sell so many items to make up for lower margins?  As is the case with most worthwhile data, more answers yield more questions.  Find out more about how InfoScout’s unique approach to shopper insights makes brands better marketers.

Data methodology:
InfoScout panelists submitted 180k+ receipts over the course of Black Friday. The data includes purchases at all major retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Macy’s, JC Penney, Kohl’s, GameStop, RadioShack, and others.  For more information related to our data and panel representation, visit our data page.

Retailers Face Heavy Deflationary Headwinds this Holiday Season

Powered by over 170,000 consumer panelists, InfoScout’s real-time read on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sales indicates that early reports of a strong holiday shopping season for America’s major retailers may be inflated.

With consumer electronics dominating the list of best sellers at Walmart, Target, Best Buy and even Kohl’s, these retailers now find themselves exposed to the deflationary pressures of the gadget industry.   Last year, consumers were exposed to exciting new products, and shoppers swarmed in to seize the new must-haves like the iPad Air, Beats Headphones, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.  As an industry that relies on innovation, the relative lack thereof in 2014  has left American shoppers unwilling to spend more for only minimally improved versions of their favorite products.  With their top-selling items now on-shelf at reduced prices, retailers will need to sell many more units than last year to keep pace with sales from the 2013 holiday season.

The list of best selling products in each of Walmart’s top holiday categories is remarkably unchanged, with slightly better offerings at predominantly lower prices.


Target carries a similar assortment of products to Walmart and therefore faces similar deflationary headwinds this holiday season.   Sales of iPads had accounted for such a large percentage of Target’s holiday sales in 2013, that the retailer will have to steer shoppers towards other products in 2014 in order to overcome the large year-over-year price reductions.


Even the highly innovative Amazon has struggled to improve upon its Kindle Fire offering from last year.   In fact, consumers are trading down this year from 7-inch to a 6-inch display at a much lower price point.


It should be no surprise then that average basket values appear to be down across almost every major retailer compared to the year prior.  Early data coming in from InfoScout’s panelists’ shopping in stores on Black Thursday & Black Friday indicate that only Macy’s has managed even the slightest gain in their average transaction.  While this data is just a preliminary read, it is derived from more than 42,000 shopping trips reported thus far at the retailers below.


To stay on top of America’s shopper journey throughout this retail holiday season, be sure to subscribe (above) for real-time updates.

(Author’s note:  Special thanks to Ben Ahn & Bret Weinberg for their real-time reporting.)


It Takes a Hurricane to Stop Hawaiians from Buying Fish, Pork, and Beer

As sophisticated as my Sales & Marketing Specialist job title sounds, I will forever be a simple island boy at heart. Long before I was crunching market-research numbers at InfoScout, I was a pidgin-speaking, slipper-wearing, opihi-picking kid growing up in Kauai.

Prior to Hurricane Iselle’s strike on August 7th, the last big storm to hit Hawaii was Hurricane Iniki back in 1992. I was 11 years old at the time, and while I’m able to remember really obscure details of the event (like my dad picking me up from soccer practice the day before and saying something fatherly, like, “Storm’s coming”), I don’t remember doing any stock-up shopping before the storm. Now, with data from America’s largest purchase panel at my fingertips, I decided to analyze Hawaiians shopping habits in the weeks and days leading up to Hurricane Iselle.

First, it’s helpful to understand how islanders were shopping before the preparations for Hurricane Iselle began. Would it be stereotypical to guess that three of the top categories where Hawaiians out-bought the rest of the nation were Fish, Pork, and Beer? Maybe, but check out the comparison below between the weekly grocery purchases of islanders versus the rest of America.


Not surprisingly, the Pork and Fish categories saw some of the most significant declines (39% and 35% respectively) in the final days before Iselle as shoppers shifted their attention and wallets toward emergency preparation. Beer saw only an 11% decline because, you know, necessities. What did increase, however, was the percentage of Hawaiian households purchasing Water, more than doubling in the week before the storm. As the hurricane drew nearer, islanders also out-bought mainlanders in what are typically camping-related product categories such as Batteries, Paper & Plastic goods, and Sports Drinks.


I’ve always told friends how Costco has changed the dynamic of the Hawaiian potluck (what with their fancy pop-in-the-oven-for-immediate-deliciousness items). The massive store chain has always been a go-to locale for stock up trips, outshining every other retailer in terms of amount spent per shopping trip. Though most retailers saw increases in spend per shopping trip just prior to Iselle, Costco’s shoppers opened up their wallets the most, with average trip spending increasing by nearly $18 there. Costco’s dominance as a stock up destination for its shoppers was even more evident just prior to the hurricane.

Spend Per Shopping Trip by Retailer


In 1992, I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the storm’s destruction, but as the hurricane left the island without electricity, I was really excited to have an excuse to use a battery-powered flashlight every night. Prior to Iselle’s strike last month, Duracell and Energizer basically split the lead for share of Hawaii’s Battery dollars, but in the final days before the storm, Duracell decisively decimated its competition. The numbers in this section are even more impressive than the alliteration.




What drove shoppers to purchase Duracell so heavily in the final seven days before Hurricane Iselle? Does Duracell’s recent “Storm” TV campaign deserve the credit? Or, how about their in-store “Be Prepared” displays? Was it the TPR promotion Duracell was running at a couple key retailers that made all the difference? And how many questions can you ask in a row before losing the attention of your audience? While we can’t answer that last question, the team at InfoScout can help you answer all the others and more through our unique combination of consumer panel purchases and associated shopper surveys. And, if you’re still reading, we’d welcome your comments and questions at!