Shopping vs Restocking

Series 2: Episode 2 | 17 January 2023

Show notes | Transcript

Restocking is all about consistency, and shopping is when I have an anomaly.

On today’s episode of the Circuit Breaker Show, Bob and Greg go over the difference between “restocking” and “shopping” and show you how to get your customers into the habit of buying. You’ll learn how to change the design of your product to make it more impactful, and that doing so may be harmful.

If you have a top-selling product and change the packaging to make it better, are you really making it better or making it harder for people to find? They’ll also talk about advertising and developing a more context-driven product. You’ll learn how their shopping-restocking framework incorporates an empathetic perspective.

You’ll hear Bob’s narrative about switching shampoos and how it fits into their shopping-restocking framework. They’ll explain how you set up criteria for a Job To Be Done when you are in shopping mode. You will also understand why you should not rely on a product being “out of stock” to generate new sales. They will define the terms “restocking” and “shopping.”

Join Bob Moesta and Greg Engle for this thought-provoking and timely discussion.

Enjoy!

What You’ll Learn in this Show:

  • The difference between restocking and shopping?
  • Why restocking is all about habit
  • How you can use Jobs To Be Done when shopping and in advertising
  • The importance of empathetic perceptive
  • What the consequences are if you alter your product while someone is restocking
  • And so much more…

Hosts

Bob Moesta
Restocking is that whole aspect of I ran out of something, or I know what I want, and I’m just going to the store to make sure I can put some more in my cupboard or in my garage. So, it’s not that I’m trying to switch, it’s the fact that I don’t have any more or I ran out of or it’s broke. Its habit, at the end of the day, restocking is about habit. 

Welcome to the circuit breaker podcast where we challenge the status quo of innovation and new product development. We’ll talk about tools and skills and methodologies used to build better products and make you a better consumer. I’m Bob Moesta, the co-founder of the rewired group, I’m one of your co-hosts and we’re joined by Greg Engle, who is my co-founder and chief Bob interpreter. Join us as we trip the circuit, and give you time to reset, reorganize and recharge your brain to build better products.

Greg Engle
Hey Bob, I want to talk about a notion we’ve had for a while. It’s been coming to light lately when talking with some of our CPG customers and some of our retail customers. That is the difference between what we call restocking and shopping. It’s a very complicated topic because most people just say we shop but when you go and watch people at the supermarket, there’s two different things going on. There are people that go through the shelf, and you can watch them just pick things off, don’t even look, throw it in their cart and walk on. 

Then there’s other people, they stop, and they look, they’re really looking around for things, you can see and pick stuff up and put stuff back down, they go over here and they pick something up and they put it down, you can almost see the confusion on their face. What’s the difference between restocking and shopping? We have to understand that the difference is there because as a company that’s making products for people, not every time someone goes into a store is that an opportunity for us to make a new sale. I want to walk through a little bit of that notion today, I want to define what shopping is, then what restocking is to us. So let me go shopping and then I’ll let you restock. 

Shopping to us is when you walk into the store and you know you have a problem, You know you have something you want to solve. But it’s something that is still shaping your mind. Let’s just say you have to clean your bathroom, you’ve done it before, but it didn’t really work. So, you’re looking at all the different options, you’re picking up bottles, reading claims and reading these different things trying to figure out which one to buy. You’re really trying to decide at that point of sale, that’s shopping, that can happen at the store that can happen during advertising, that can happen in a lot of places.

Bob Moesta
It could be asking my brother or somebody I know about it, it’s all that all that stuff is part of shopping.

Greg Engle
But we can see people doing that in a grocery store. You see it all the time.

Bob Moesta
Yes but people confuse the difference between I know what I want, but I can’t find it, so they stop and pause and they look. I’ve been in the cleaning aisle and I’ll stop, I’m looking for this specific cleaner, I can’t find it and people mistake it like I’m trying to shop for something but no, I’m not shopping, I’m just trying to restock what I have, I just can’t see it on the shelf where it is.

Greg Engle
So you jumped the gun a little bit. So what is restocking?

Bob Moesta
Restocking is that whole aspect of I ran out of something, or I know what I want, and I’m just going to the store to make sure I can put some more in my cupboard or in my garage. So, it’s not that I’m trying to switch, it’s the fact that I don’t have any more or I ran out of or it’s broke. Its habit, at the end of the day, restocking is about habit. 

Greg Engle
That’s one of the things we want to get to as makers, a product, we want to have it. 

Bob Moesta
You want people to have you as a habit where they just buy it because that’s what they’ve been buying forever.

Greg Engle
So it’s a good thing when we see restocking, but it’s also something we have to understand when we see restocking, our new entry has to do things before someone gets to the shopping center to do that. 

Bob Moesta 

That’s right. Part of it is the whole aspect of the struggling moment, if there’s no struggling moment that is about something better, but simply about I don’t have it, it’s a different mindset going into the store. That’s what we’re trying to talk about; what is the person’s mindset as they go into the store about the things that are going to get.

Greg Engle
I think the reason I want to talk about this topic a little bit is because it’s boring, it seems mundane, but, it’s something that companies struggle with all the time. It’s not just CPG companies that struggle with it, everybody struggles with it in a way. But in the grocery store in the NSC store, you can see it. We often get upset as CPG companies as companies making product when we see people not choosing our product. We have to understand that there are times that people aren’t looking to change, but by using jobs to be done, by understanding empathetic perspective, by understanding how things work, we can actually do things before they get to the store, to cause people to realize their old solution might not be working. 

That’s where we talk about this concept, because we need people to understand it, and then we need to use jobs to be done in advertising, and in point of sale to put people in context. Because that’s what starts the question in their head of; Is this product really working for me? I think you have to do that in your advertising and positioning first, before they get to the store because once I get to the store, I’m in that mode of restock shop. If I’m not in the shopping moment, I might just forget about it until the next time it doesn’t work.

Bob Moesta
It might not be bad enough. I think about it as when somebody walks into the store, they’ve got 1000 things in their head, they might have a list, but they also have other things they’re holding in their head. There’s a list of things they know they’ve got to get and there’s a list of things that they’ve got to figure out. My belief is, as people who help build new products, we’re trying to find the places and spaces and times when people have the space in the brain for something new. Trying to get in their way when they’re in the middle of just trying to restock, we end up pissing them off more than anything else.

Greg Engle
Or we change locations of stuff, it throws them off, or we change the color of pack. Our office talked about cat food, she always bought this cat food that was a certain color, it was in a certain spot, didn’t read anything, but just saw it and knew the image of it. Then they changed the pack, so they created a startling moment. She bought a different brand because she couldn’t find what she was restocking for. This is the important part of understanding the difference, because sometimes we make decisions that then cause people to shop. We’ve changed packaging, we’ve changed claims, we’ve changed different things. We don’t think about that all the time, so I think this is a two-edged sword, we’re going to talk about both. 

Let’s talk about Katherine’s struggle first; you change the pack that you think is going to be more impactful, I think they changed color and the picture of the cat. She knew the picture of the cat, then suddenly it was a different color cat, it was a different thing, she couldn’t find it. She couldn’t remember all the claims that had before, even the name of it, because she went from shopping to restocking. When she went to restocking, she didn’t care about the claims anymore, she keep buying that same thing that my cat eats. 

Bob Moesta
But the moment she couldn’t find it, it’s like its suddenly doesn’t exist, you start wrestling with your mind, what is it? Can I remember what it was? Then you start looking, and you go deeper than you thought. That’s the point where that’s an opportunity to switch, so most people think they’re making the package better, but what they’re doing is making it worse.

Greg Engle
It could be, it depends. If you have a top selling thing, and you change the pack to make it better, are you really going to make it better or are you going to make it harder for people to find? That’s going to be the question. The other thing people can understand this concept for and use this for is advertising. When we talk to people about the difference between shopping and restocking, when someone gets in the habit of buying, it’s hard to get them out of that habit of buying something, unless you tackle one of the core things we talk about our jobs, which is context. I want you to talk a little about that, and if you can come up with an example that would be great. People have changed the their ads to be more context driven, it shows that they’re struggling, it gives them an opportunity before they get to the store and in the restocking mode, that maybe their old thing doesn’t work and they should look for a new one.

Bob Moesta
Yes there are many different examples. The one that comes to mind that we keep buying is insurance. I think of their commercials where they tell you you’re covered when this happens and all these extreme situations where you’re like, oh maybe I’m not covered if I have this happen or that happen. Part of it is advertising creating space in the brain for it. 

The other thing is I look at the tide commercials, and most people will say ‘Why do I need a pod?’, but what they show in the commercial is that teenagers, partners, other people are doing the laundry so suddenly they’re saying ‘if I buy pods people can help with laundry’. You start to realize there’s the other aspects of it, it’s too complicated when it’s the powder. So, advertising is the place where you create the space in the brain for a new solution to fall into. That’s the role marketing should play is not only in the positioning, but also to help frame the struggling moment of what better could be like, but not from just a benefit side, but also from the struggling side. 

Greg Engle
This concept, it’s not a hard concept. It’s one of those things that we don’t often think about when we’re developing products, developing strategies, developing those things. Can you talk about how you use this theory or thing that we’re coming up with? How should people use it? We talked a little bit about changing products, changing pack, and advertising, is there other reasons why you need to keep this in the back of your head as a developer?

Bob Moesta
Yeah. So as you’re developing something new, the real thing is what is the struggling moment you’re trying to solve for? And what are people going to fire when they hire you? Often people ask, ‘how do I actually do job interviews before I’ve developed the product?’ This is where we study what people would fire and why people chose it, and what are the tradeoffs they’re making, why they’re picking that product? At some point, you need to understand that for your product to take off, people need to either use it in a new situation, or they need to stop using something else and start using yours. Having that frame around it all the time is how we’re always thinking about it from that perspective. We all want to get to this habit part, but the fact is if they’re stuck in habit, it’s very hard to get them out. It’s the moments that they’re not in the habit where they’re willing to look at something different is where you have to focus.

Greg Engle
Yeah, we’re struggling with what to call it, it’s a framework, shopping / restocking framework that we use, and I use it as empathetic perspective. As I’m developing something, I need to look at it through the eyes of; if I’m restocking and developing this new product, what are the problems with the category that I’m going into? What are the struggling moments? How do I talk about those so people know that my new product will do something better for them? Another thing I use empathetic perspective for is if I’m redesigning it, changing it, doing those things, how does it interrupt the restocking phase of my customers? Look at both sides all the time, it’s another way of bringing in empathetic perspective, understand how does it affect them? How does that affect them when I’m in this situation?

Bob Moesta
Yep. I was a Pert user for 20 years then p&g sold pert and you couldn’t find it on the shelf. I bought shampoo, maybe once every six months, I don’t go through shampoo that much, so it’s one of those things where I went back to the shelf, it was not on the shelf. What do I do? I know the different products, but haircare is ridiculous, it’s way more thought than I want to give to it. The only thing I could remember is that the reason I liked it is because it was 2-in-1. I could put the shampoo and conditioner in the same thing, and it worked out great. Eventually I ended up buying head and shoulders 2-in-1, so I switched, not because I wanted to, not because I was looking for a better shampoo. At the same time, it works, it’s fine, and to be honest I’ve been using it for 10 years. 

That was one of those things where because it wasn’t available at the right spot, do I love head and shoulders? Not really. Do I really need anything better? Not really. I buy head and shoulders over and over again; you could say that I switched from pert to head and shoulders but it was purely because I couldn’t find pert.

Greg Engle
First of all I want to take out of this story is, if I want to get Bob to switch, and I’m using this framework, the important thing he said was ‘2-in-1’. So we have to look at people that are struggling with those types of things, it could be time, efficiency, a lot of different things. But if I want to get his attention, I have to be talking about those situations. I can’t talk about having luxurious hair.

Bob Moesta
The weird way I look at it is, shampoo is not something I want to think about ever. The one time where it was there or it wasn’t, and I had to find out else and this is good enough that there are things that pop up that are those moments, but for the most part, they’re not predictable, and typically, I don’t want to think about it.

Greg Engle
Yes, you’re making it sound very simple. I want to make sure we’re talking about the things in this reshot stocking, reshot better shopping, which is you were forced to shop. Imagine they were showing shampoo commercials, showing great hair, showing grey hair, scent, all these different things, but that’s not what mattered to you. The claim that matter to you was 2-in-1

Bob Moesta
I’m not even sure it mattered, it was the only thing I used to describe why I bought it, it’s not that I was looking for it.

Greg Engle
But you were looking for it. Because if it didn’t say 2-in-1 you weren’t buying it.

Bob Moesta</b
It turns out that’s right. It was what I would call is the subconscious, when I struggle, that’s when it brings it up to the conscious, but I would literally want to get rid of it as fast as possible. 

Greg Engle
I understand that but when you were shopping what was the criteria used to pick the shampoo? 

Bob Moesta
It was pert first and then all I could remember about the old thing was 2-in-1. 

Greg Engle
That’s my point. We want to make sure that when we’re talking about shopping things, what is important to the person and if we know jobs for that stuff. There is a portion of desired outcome, a hiring criteria that encompasses that. It’s a much bigger thing than just that one thing, but it’s part of one of the functional criteria that you have to have in one of the jobs for haircare or body or beauty care. The important thing to realize when you were shopping, you had criteria in your head. As a company, I have to know that criteria when I bring a new entrant in, or when I’m trying to get someone to change when they’re in the shopping mode and that’s the important takeaway here.

Bob Moesta
That’s correct. The other thing to realize is the moment something’s out of stock, it is an opportunity. Part of the time those opportunities do exist, but my belief is you’re not building your product to do that, you should be building your product to solve a problem that people have, then they’ll see your product.

Greg Engle
I’m just trying to make sure we’re making this so people can understand the story that we’re trying to get out, which is when you’re in shopping, you are making criteria off of a job to be done.

Bob Moesta
That’s correct, off the outcome that you’re seeking and the problem that you’re trying to solve.

Greg Engle
You’re making it sound trite and it’s not trite.

Bob Moesta
I’m not trying to make it sound trite. I’m trying to make it from an empathetic perspective of the person in it, it seems like it’s very simple. But, when you look at it through the lens of through space and time, it’s actually very hard.

Greg Engle
Yes. And that’s what I’m trying to get out, the example you gave sounded very simple.

Bob Moesta
Well again, from the customer side it sounds simple.

Greg Engle
That what I want people to take away from this is when you’re in shopping, you have to understand, it’s not just a job, there are shopper insights that go into this, different things that go into this. You have to take in all the different ways to get a customer to buy your product. It starts from first thought which could be advertising all the way to point of sale or claims on the bottle. That’s what we’re really trying to get you to understand here is, when you have the opportunity at shelf to shop, you need to have the right things in there. But also know that that opportunity starts sooner than at the shelf because once I’m in restock mode and they have it and there’s no problems, I’m not even looking for another alternative. When the opportunity presents itself, then i will shop but even in Bob’s case he switched all the way over all the time.

Bob Moesta
I didn’t plan to do that.

Greg Engle
Out of stock means I might buy something different to solve that time, but it might go back to the old. We don’t know that when they’re shopping for that stuff so don’t count on out of stock to be your opportunity to get new sales to get into habit, I think is what Bob was trying to say. Know that out of stock does cause problems so you have to worry about that if you’re an incumbent that new entrants can come in from that space. The important thing to take out of this is when people go into a store to buy things, they’re in shopping or restocking mode. And there’s little opportunity then to switch somebody over to your new product when they’re restocking. 

So you have to think about this before, you have to think about it in development, in advertising, and you have to use empathetic perspective to do that very early on to understand, how do you get people into a different context before they get to restocking? If you’re in a shopping mode, anything you do in the restocking mode to get people to understand the new context will work in shopping as well. Think about the consequences of when you have somebody in habit, or in restocking and you start changing things, think about that, as that could be an opportunity for a new entrant to come in.

Bob Moesta
That’s right. It’s the same problem when people you know when people get a new iPhone after a new iPhone, that’s restocking. Versus I went from an iPhone to a Samsung, that’s not restocking, that’s a change. Deming would always talk about things as a process and you want it to be consistent, and I think of restocking is about the consistency, building consistency, and shopping is when I have an anomaly. Something’s not working, something’s not right, I can’t get what I want and I need to understand the anomalies, because that’s where growth comes from as anomalies.

Greg Engle
Just to wrap up what we’re talking about, as we wind down, this wasn’t an argument though some would think it was.

Bob Moesta
I think part of this is the language and that there’s not clear language around it. A consumer will say they’re shopping but they’re really restocking. It’s a mode that we’ve picked up because of intent, or people’s intent.

Greg Engle
I also think you’re seeing a little bit of personality of Bob wants to make sense, Bob has a thing of trying to make things very easy for people to grasp. And I want people that really struggle with things, so there’s a personality thing there as well. But to wrap up what we’re talking about today is think about shopping as when someone goes in and they don’t know what they’re going to buy. They’re looking at labels or at the claims or at all those things or trying to figure out whether it’s going to fit their life or not and restocking is the I’m just picking up whatever it is. 

The other thing we want you to take away is think about this framework when you’re developing a product, when you’re advertising, positioning. But also think about this product when you go to change something that’s been on the market for a while, when you go to update your brand, or your package. Think about what struggling moments are you creating for your customer. The homework we give at the end is next time you go to the grocery store, take a couple minutes, don’t be a creeper and talk to people, but I just want you to watch and you can do with your own behavior but it’s really powerful when you watch other people walk up and down an aisle, look, watch people observe what they’re doing. Can you identify shopping versus restocking? What I would tell you is shopping usually indicates picking up more than one item, restocking you can see in a lot of places where they don’t even slow down. 

Bob Moesta
When they’re looking, they’re just looking for it and they just grab it and then they move on to the next step.

Greg Engle
I want you to take the time and to think about that and then watch that happen, just think about how many times you do it in your life and how many times you saw it, how many times your customers are doing it as well. What are you going to do differently to change that paradigm for people? If you have a new entrant coming in, you have to give people context, you have to change things at first thought, you have to create events, if you create all those things on our timeline to get there. If you’re in the restock mode, how do you prevent people from getting into that? That’s what I want you to think about. 

Thank you.

More episodes

Unpacking “Innovation”

There's no denying that words and terms are powerful tools for communication and understanding. However, words can be overused, diluting their meaning and causing more confusion. In today's episode of the Circuit Breaker podcast, we're discussing the meaning, use, overuse and context of words and terms. 

Reframing the Sales Process With Demand-Side Sales

"I don't need to sell my product; I need to help people buy it." On today's Circuit Breaker Show, Bob and Greg discuss their book Demand-Side Sales. They will talk about why they wrote it, and what they learned from it. They'll also talk about what they believe to be the most difficult challenge for people implementing demand-side sales.