Helping Business Understand Customer Needs

The Challenge: A leading pharmaceutical OTC manufacturer wished to expand sales of their dietary supplement products, while growing the category for their key retailer partners. Their goal was to make the category easier to understand and shop. Previous surveys and focus groups had identified that shoppers felt frustrated and confused by the brands, types of supplements offered, shelf organization, and that they wanted additional information at shelf. However, at shelf attempts to inform shoppers had not been successful to date.

Customizing The Dietary Supplement Shopping Experience: How Behavior-Based Segmentation Led To Retail Category Level Success

Kahn Research Inc.’s Response:  


Conduct a deep dive research investigation to understand the role the dietary supplement category plays in the lives of consumers, how they utilize the products, what they feel they know, as well as what they want to know.  

  • We conducted focus groups with shoppers from each of the key retailer partners.  Further, we selected a sub-set of respondents from the focus groups for additional ethnographic observation both in home as well as in store to understand the role each individual product plays within the mix, their at home behaviors around the category, daily compliance, as well as their approach to shopping for these products.  

  • This deep dive approach resulted in identification of key decision drivers related to the category, role of life stage and health stage in category use, as well as specific shopper styles related to shopping for these products.  
  • Five distinct segments were observed, each with different decision/motivation drivers, life and health stage concerns, and shopper styles.  
  • Quantitative research with a representative national sample allowed us to confirm the existence of those segments, identify the size of each in the overall marketplace, as well as the importance of each segment to the client’s key retailers.  


The Result:  Retailer execution strategies for the overall category were developed leading to increased sales for the client’s brand as well as other category items.  The paradigm continued to inform creative efforts for in-store and path to purchase communications targeting different segments for several more years. Each strategy, though different, resulted in increased client and category sales.  Further, each retailer benefitting from a strengthened relationship with shoppers, as shoppers identified the category strategy as being more focused on their needs, and how they shop.