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A consumer goods company was interested in innovative ways to harness consumer input and leverage consumer-generated ideas to improve the retail experience in the meat department of selected partner chains.  Moreover, they wanted to pilot a methodology that would result in procedures to establish a fast, turnkey methodology that could be applied to other retail partners across the U.S. 

C+R’s team started the investigation with a foundational exploration to hear from consumers firsthand about the pros and cons of their go-to grocery retailer. In particular, we asked shoppers to relay the delighters and disappointers in the meat department, as well as in other aisles of the store that could be extrapolated to positive experiences when shopping for meats.

Then, through a series of creative and projective exercises, we led consumers through ideation activities to help them imagine and articulate ways that their go-to meat department could innovate and improve. 

Next, we excused the respondents and conducted an engaging work session with the C+R research team, the client team, and an illustrator, resulting in 6 fully developed concepts based on consumer input. Finally, we invited the same consumers back to gauge collective interest in the co-created ideas, gain additional feedback, and make optimizations. All of this transpired in just three, dynamic, agile days of insights harvesting and creative thinking.


Grocery shopping, specifically the meat department, presents a range of challenges for brick + mortar shoppers today. A major consumer goods company needed to understand the experiential landscape of the meat department in retail grocery stores, with the goal of generating innovative ideas and solutions to enhance and improve shopper encounters at a single retail partner, in a way that could be easily replicated with other retailers across the country. 

Further, the company needed to understand consumers’ attitudes and perceptions to not just the meat department, but the entire retailer experience. The client company’s ultimate goal was to have consumers ideate new and improved ways to make the meat department a destination that stands out within the store and among competitive retailers. 


The research team discovered that three spheres of convenience, creativity and connection are white space opportunity areas for innovation in the meat department. 

One key finding was that these three opportunity areas were linked to consumers’ current perceptions with the meat department and the retailer as a standalone brand. Many described their go-to retailer and its meat department as convenient and easy to shop, with a wide variety of offerings and helpful employees. Therefore, rare occasions around out of stock items, hard to find items, and lack of helpful employees caused frustrations.

C+R’s analytic team organized the shoppers’ suggestions and micro-ideas around these core opportunity platforms, and further subcategorized them into themes against which to ideate concepts with the client team and illustrator.  For example, shoppers expressed delight in high-touch engagement with staff, thus some of the new ideas revolved around chef interaction.  Others leveraged the benefits of convenience and sustainable, local products that shoppers desired.

From this short but robust ideation session, we created six fully fleshed-out and illustrated concepts and shared them with the same shoppers in the evening.  They voted on favorites and provided feedback to further build out and optimize the concepts. 
With the second session closing the loop with consumers, we were able to funnel and combine initial ideas into more cohesive and complete concepts. Participants were thrilled at the chance to have their ideas heard and brought to life, and to help C+R channel them and flesh them out to be most appealing.

At the end of the research, the client successfully gained recommendations directly from consumers around how they want to engage with the meat department, as well as innovative ways to stand out within the store and across competitors. Moreover, we established for them a quick-turn methodology that can be applied across multiple retail partners nationwide, to address regional and channel-specific needs.


C+R conducted a multi-phase online qualitative study with an initial online discussion day, followed by an ideation work session with the client and an illustrator to bring to life the ideas from our initial discussion with consumers. Once concepts were created, C+R hosted a follow-up discussion with the same shoppers to further optimize these ideas and understand which concepts ultimately represented the greatest opportunities for the client company. 

In order to fully understand what new, interesting and/or improved ideas consumers wanted to see from their go-to retail meat department, it was essential to understand their overall experience with shopping at their specified retailer. Looking at the grocery store holistically helped identify areas where the retailer was already excelling and/or falling short. 

Along with this background information, we wanted consumers to start thinking about the meat department as a destination, using a variety of projective questions to understand what types of services and features they appreciate in other environments. This helped participants “set the scene” for their own ideas about what their ideal meat department could be like.  

Upon analysis, we grouped their ideas about the meat department into overarching themes. The C+R team, along with the client team, participated in an ideation work session with an illustrator to generate quick, fully fleshed-out concepts with images to bring consumers’ ideas to life. With myriad innovative ideas from consumers, it was C+R’s task to combine, refine and create concrete concepts that we could share with shoppers, ultimately to understand which resonated most. 

On the final day of discussion, participants were excited and appreciative that their ideas were woven into these potential concepts. Each idea was reviewed, voted on, and further optimized by the shoppers. They continued to build upon and even combine ideas to bring together powerful themes or highlight features of particular intrigue.

Not only did the client company walk away with new ways to optimize the meat department to please shoppers at their retailer, they also were able to adopt a turnkey methodology that they can utilize with other retailers in the future.