Tell us about what your company does, who you serve and what value you bring to your clients as a solution provider.

InContext Solutions uses virtual 3D simulations of retail spaces for visualization of ideas at retail, and then it enables shopper marketing research of those ideas. We primarily serve the consumer-packaged goods manufacturers and retailers in both the category management and shopper insights functions.

Our solutions provide value by helping our clients ideate and iterate on ideas until they find one they think is a good fit. Then we can test those ideas with shoppers to maximize the success of implementation prior to the client actually building it out physically. It’s all done digitally, which allows for substantial cost savings by avoiding mistakes. Whether they test things that end up not working or they identify an idea that will succeed in the market, we provide them with great information to help sell their ideas to either retailers or internal constituents.

What is the most exciting thing you are working on right now?

I’ll cheat a little bit and give you two things. One is that we’re partnering with other research companies and agencies to allow them to more easily access our platform for their methodologies, which allows that to be a better virtual experience.

The other I’ll give you is we’re also exploring how to use our platform to make online shopping a more customizable and visual experience. We’re taking it from a list-based experience, which most e-comm is today, and using our store simulation visuals to create a different visual experience that can be more customizable and allow users a better shopping experience when they’re shopping online.

We’re particularly interested in creating a unique experience around particular items. For instance, if you’re shopping for camping gear, it might be more interesting to shop for them at a set up camp site where all the things you might need are set up in the context in which you would actually use them. We can even let particular customers customize and personalize their shopping experience to what resonates with them. We can let customers self-select how they want to shop.

Where do you feel you’ve been helping clients make the most impact during the pandemic? How have you adjusted to meet their needs?

One of the things that’s made the greatest impact for our customers is the fact that we’re still able to do our methodology. It’s been really hard for clients using in-store methods to control their store tests in person, but we can continue to conduct ours exactly the same way we have been. We did extensive work to ensure we were getting the right data and that our results remain as usable and comparable as before, even with so many people at home.

We also added some new capabilities, including something we call SMK Streams. SMK Streams allows us to effectively stream the virtual experience someone is having as they go through the store in real time. Having that immediate access and responsivity makes conversations and questioning during the testing much easier. You can ask questions about why they picked something up or what they noticed when they turned and moved away from an area – the kind of questions that, even if delayed by five or 10 seconds, the subject wouldn’t be able to answer, because they’d already be onto the next thing.

How have you been helping clients adjust to new & growing omnichannel dynamics?

As the pandemic has increased the use of online shopping, we’ve been looking at providing e-comm solutions as part of our omni-channel assessment to, for instance, figure out the impact of an idea when executed across all channels, including the e-comm channel.

We’re looking to develop something there that would allow you to test things in the same way that we do in our simulations that might apply across all channels like packaging, pricing, or promotions. Some of the things we test in brick and mortar might not be the kind of things we can actually manipulate in the e-comm channel, but there are other factors that are. We’re in the process of looking to partner with e-comm site providers to develop and provide that kind of functionality.

Why did your company feel it was important to have a sponsorship presence at the 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference?

Both category management and shopper insights groups are our key audiences. Traditionally, the conference has always been an important way for us to connect with our clients and potential clients. But with the pandemic and not being able to travel and be with our clients, any of these opportunities where the industry can come together and share ideas are going to be critical to understanding how the world is changing. And we want to be a leader in sharing how we think the world of category management shopper insights is evolving and how we can help these companies navigate those changes.

Tell us about the solutions and content you’ll be showcasing at the Conference this year.

The big thing we’ll be doing is sharing the results of an analysis we recently conducted. During this analysis, we looked at the results of 19 different studies we conducted in six different categories of category management. And while all of these studies were concerned with the impact those arrangements had on our clients, brands, and products, they were also all studies that moved private label products around within those arrangements. We wanted to understand, even when it wasn’t the focus of what they were doing, what effects moving these arrangements around was having for those private label products. That’s what this new analysis showed us.

The goal of sharing this analysis is to give our clients and peers guidance on how they think about private label products as they create their arrangements. This data should give our clients the ability to be more successfully showing category lift with the arrangements they recommend. The analysis yielded quite a few insights, so be sure to come to our talk to learn more!

Learn more about the 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference.