FEATURE8 July 2020

Decoding cravings

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South African retailer Woolworths wanted to know what South Africans are eating – and why – and turned to a chatbot for answers. 

Brownies - decoding cravings

Food retailers are under more pressure to compete than ever before – their rivals are no longer simply other retailers and grocers, but also new players and gig economy companies such as Uber Eats.

South African retail company Woolworths wanted to understand what is driving people’s new food preferences so that it could develop new products, change the format of its stores and promotions, and approach price from a new perspective.

“We needed to have a deeper understanding of how South Africans engage with food, ” said Charlene Van Zyl, head of customer at the company.

Approaching the research using methods reported after the fact, such as traditional food diaries, wouldn’t have been effective, as engagement tends to fall off when customers no longer enjoy completing them, said Van Zyl, speaking at the IIeX Europe conference in Amsterdam. Additionally, the brand wanted to dig deeper into people’s motivations around eating.

Woolworths worked with Kantar to develop an approach aimed at understanding more about why consumers ...