NEWS16 December 2021

2021 Business impact of the year for the UK

Awards News UK

UK – Emotional Logic has won Business Impact of the Year at the 2021 Market Research Society Awards.

Emotional Logic team

The company has been working with centre:mk, a shopping and leisure destination in Milton Keynes, since 2014. Over this period, Emotional Logic has transformed how research insight is applied within the organisation, embedding the voice of the consumer across all areas of operation.

Even before Covid-19, the UK retail sector was experiencing extremely difficult market conditions. The pandemic’s multiple lockdowns then led to shopper footfall drops of up to 98% and huge retail sales losses, estimated to be in the region of £22bn.

In those challenging market conditions, with budgets under pressure, research is often one of the first elements to get cut. Emotional Logic’s case study, however, proves that it shouldn’t be and demonstrates how integrating research into all aspects of business operations not only delivers competitive advantage, but also speeds up recovery from the pandemic.

The research programme revolved around a shopper segmentation based on behavioural science. This helps retailers understand not just what shoppers do and want, but also the motivations driving those needs. This is essential for predicting behaviour, something that is vitally important in a sector beset by rapid and dramatic change.  

Emotional Logic’s behavioural research data informs all aspects of strategic and tactical decision-making at centre: mk; for instance, evidence from the research was behind the decision to invest £50m in the centre at a time when the retail sector as a whole was cutting back. The mix of retail and leisure venues is constantly being refined based on research data. Knowledge gained from the research is written into every brief for creative development and is crucial to targeted media planning.  

Integrating research into all areas of operation has positively impacted business performance. As a result, the catchment has expanded by 11 minutes’ drive time and annual spend per shopper has grown by 15%. 

In addition, the research programme tracked behavioural insights throughout the pandemic and informed the post-Covid opening strategy. As a result, the centre is bouncing back from lockdown: on the day of reopening ( 12 April 2021 ) footfall was 4% above pre-Covid levels compared to -16% for the average UK shopping centre. 

Since reopening, UK shopping centres have experienced daily footfall increases of 278% on average, while centre:mk has grown three times as fast, at 814%. Currently, footfall is 5% closer to pre-Covid levels, equivalent to an estimated spend of £87m. 

Commenting on the success of the project, Emotional Logic director Helen Powell said: “We have come from a standard shopper survey that tracks customer satisfaction to a sophisticated, modern research programme that enables a deep understanding of shopper behaviour and motivations.

“Behavioural research allows us to adapt strategies quickly to changing trends, as well as predict future behaviour to stay ahead of the curve. Embedding this research into all aspects of strategic planning, operations and marketing has delivered exceptional returns on investment for centre:mk.”

Centre director Kevin Duffy added: “Retail and leisure destinations will continue to play a key role in consumers’ lives, but only if they can adapt quickly to the fast and dramatic market changes we are seeing now. Research is an essential element that helps us refine strategic plans and streamline operations to build a competitive advantage.

“Shopper insight is integrated into all aspects of decision making at centre:mk from investment strategy and product development to marketing and day-to-day operations. The only way we can continue to deliver exceptional guest experiences is through using the latest and best consumer insight available.”