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This is an observation analysis of customer behavior and the store environment of a frequently used grocery retail location. You will
be required to unobtrusively observe individuals shopping in readily accessible public view. The assignment has three parts. First,
spend about 30 minutes observing the environment and public behavior of shoppers in a local major grocery retail outlet (Safeway,
Savemart, Lucky, etc.). Second, turn in a 1-2 page report of your experience. The report should include only the top most prevalent
conditions with specific examples for illustration, not glowing generalities. Do NOT give your opinion, just scientific observation.
Third, go to the Observation Assignment discussion thread and post about your experience completing this activity.
This report must include 4 paragraphs, in the order stated below, addressing the required content within each paragraph.
PARAGRAPH 1: THE BASICS
Document your name, location, date, day of week, time of day and other pertinent facts (e.g., traffic, parking situation,
surroundings, weather, etc.) The more detailed, the better.
PARAGRAPH 2: THE MARKETING EFFORT
Look around the store before you commit to a specific marketing effort. Don’t just choose the one at the entrance.
Provide a description of one specific marketing effort that calls attention to the acquisition, use, or disposition of a product or
service that you observe. These might include point-of-purchase displays, sample sizes of products, unique packaging, special
promotional tools or interactive devices (sweepstakes). Do not choose a regularly priced/positioned/packaged item. Choose
something that is special for a limited time period.
Describe this “effort” in detail. Things to consider: Color, size, shape, position, placement, and/or wording of the
signs/displays/devices/people. Be thorough.
YOU MUST OBSERVE CUSTOMERS’ REACTIONS TO THIS MARKETING EFFORT IN ORDER TO COMPLETE THE NEXT TWO PARTS.
PARAGRAPH 3: THE CUSTOMER SEGMENT
Describe your observed customer segment in terms that may include your estimates of demographics such as age, family situation,
professional level, social group, dress, sophisticated appearance, income level, etc. (I.e., describe what types of people keep
stopping by the promotion, not just who is in the store.) When describing the customer segment, don’t tell me about the individual
customers, but rather find the commonalities among them. If you are not getting a large enough sample size, then choose a more
heavily populated location (either in the store or at another store) or shopping time. If the store is heavily populated, you still must
spend at least 15 minutes making observations.
(The segment is not everyone who is in the store, but rather everyone who stops by this marketing effort.)
PARAGRAPH 4: THE TYPICAL CUSTOMER
Describe one of the customers out of your observed sample who best represents the customer segment interested in the marketing
effort (promotion/display/sweepstakes/demo/sale/etc.). How was that person representative of the segment? Describe him/her
and his/her reactions to and interactions with the marketing effort. The way he/she interacted should best represent the way most
people that you observed interacted. The customer should be an actual customer you observed, not a theoretical typical customer.
Note: This requires that you really pay attention to everyone who stopped to notice that specific marketing effort. Choose the one
person who best exemplifies everyone else, not the person who stands out as being different.
4 points per paragraph
2pts. for completion
2pts. for depth of content
2 points for posting on the MRA1 discussion thread
2 points for grammar/spelling/understandability
Total points possible
To see if someone is married, look for a ring. To see if someone is affluent, look for brand named clothes or expensive jewelry. To
gauge someone’s age, look at their hands. (Hands never lie.) Look for dirty fingernails, “bed head” hair, logos on t-shirts, posture,
etc. If it’s cold out, are they wearing summer clothes that might indicate they are used to colder climates? Look at other items
they’ve purchased; what does that say about them? Can you hear an accent? Do they sound educated? What is their ethnicity?
Note: Points may be taken off for not following these instructions.
You may take notes while performing the observation, but do not let people notice you are observing them; try to be
discreet so you do not interfere with, thereby tainting, the research.
Speak as if you were writing a report to management, not a class paper to me. Do not talk about yourself; just report the
observations as if you were a professional researcher working a contract job. If you write about YOUR observations instead
of THE observations, I will deduct points. Don’t tell me what YOU chose to observe, just explain what was observed.
Do not write in the 2nd person (i.e., you) or the 1st person (i.e., I/me). Write in 3rd person only.
Proofread your work. If you have horrible writing skills, have someone else proofread the assignment before you turn it
into me. Grammar, mechanics (capitalization, punctuation, spelling), and syntax, matter.
2pgs max or I will deduct 1 point. Be concise and purposeful in your writing.
I don’t care what font/margins/spacing you use as long as it’s legible and professional.
Do not teach the reader (i.e., me) marketing. E.g., I don’t want you to first explain the 4 Ps and tell me why certain
marketing phenomenon happens. Just report your observations, please.
Note that isle ≠ aisle.
You may use a location other than a grocery store as long as it has heavy foot traffic like a grocery store does.
For ½ point extra credit, insert into the body of the report, a photo of your marketing effort. The photo must be taken by
When you’re conducting an observation, never speculate as to someone’s reasoning for making a purchase unless it is
something you witness through direct observation. For example, if someone compared an expensive organic melon to a
cheap regular melon, you cannot say they opted for the regular one because it was cheaper, unless you saw them eyeing
the price signs or heard them talking about it to someone. But, if you saw them sniffing and thumping the two melons, you
can conclude they likely made their decision based on ripeness.
Beware of words that are subjective. Saying someone was “old” or that a sign was “large” means something different to
everyone you talk to. Always give approximate age ranges, dimension approximations, etc.
Most importantly: Do not give opinions, just FACTUAL observations.
*You may complete this assignment with up to 2 partners. All partners must partake in the same observation.
Warning: You will feel awkward lurking around one area for 30 minutes. Please do your best not to look creepy or make
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