LOS ANGELES: Dannon, the dairy giant, has greatly enhanced its knowledge of health-and-wellness shoppers in America by drawing on the insights generated by a "tribe" of consumers interested in this subject.

Olesya Govorun, senior manager/strategy and insights at the Dannon Company, discussed this topic at the Future of Consumer Intelligence (FOCI) conference organised by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

"We created a 'tribe' – a 'healthy-minded community' of 93 active shoppers," she told delegates. (For more, including how Dannon secured the interest of its retail partners, read Warc's exclusive report: Dannon's "tribe" provides a new model for shopper insights.)

Members of this group took part in a four-week exercise that involved providing stories and photos covering the typical in-store experience.

They delivered similar feedback on a selection of fun and engaging tasks which Dannon set them in order to yield a holistic picture of the health-food universe.

Alongside asking participants to document their own behavior in stores, they commented on the choices and habits of their peers who were involved in the study.

Incorporating this element into the market-research mix helped Dannon – an affiliate of Paris-based Groupe Danone – reduce the traditional problems that individuals have in describing their own preferences and actions.

"This was the most unexpectedly productive piece of the journey. People had a lot of vivid reactions to other people's experiences," said Govorun.

General discussions between its "tribe" members also provided valuable information about their attitudes concerning the dairy category as a whole.

While many consumers had positive associations between dairy and physical or mental wellbeing – ranging from nutrition benefits to happy childhood memories – the point of purchase left a more negative impression.

"Dairy, for the shopper, is very functional, very cold. If you actually do shop for dairy, [the shopping environment] is physically cold. It's an uninviting space and it lacks that emotional connection to our consumers."

Such learnings enabled Dannon to reframe its understanding of the in-store experience, and thus set the company on the path to taking practical steps to improving it.

Data sourced from Warc