Christmas Holiday Report – International Study: Part 1



The BIG Guide to Christmas Shoppers 2016

Companies far and wide are already feverishly preparing for Christmas shoppers.

Field Agent is proud to present an essential, one-of-a-kind resource to help brands and retailers prepare for the 2016 Christmas shopping season.

Based on surveys with almost 3,000 shoppers across seven countries, Field Agent’s Big Honkin’, Tree Toppin’, Globe Trottin’ GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS 2016 is packed with pivotal insights into the attitudes and behaviors of holiday shoppers around the world.

This free report, Field Agent’s largest to date, explores a variety of topics, including:

  • Top retail destinations for Christmas gifts, groceries, and online purchases
  • Most common gift wishes among men and women, boys and girls
  • Product categories poised for a strong Christmas season
  • Roles of online shopping and digital, omnichannel services in Christmas shopping

The report casts a wide net, offering timely insights into multiple product categories:

  • Electronics
  • Toys
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Batteries
  • Salty Snacks
  • Clothing & Fragrances
  • Fast Food
  • Pet Supplies
  • Entertainment

As a bonus, the Guide to Christmas Shoppers 2016 includes The Brand Manager’s Guide to Q4 Retail Execution, which describes concrete solutions to six in-store challenges faced by many FMCG companies.

Make it a Christmas season to remember. Download the guide today.



What Do Women Want? 500 Australian Women Talk Beauty & Cosmetics

What Women Want

French fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent once said, “The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” Year-by-year, women around the world testify to Saint-Laurent’s words…with their spending more.

Case-in-point: InStyle magazine reported that the average woman will spend $15,000 on beauty products over the course of her lifetime, including:

  • Mascara – $3,770
  • Eye shadow – $2,750
  • Lipstick – $1,780

Clearly, beauty products in general, and cosmetics in particular, account for a sizable chunk of consumer spending. Beauty, it appears, costs (and makes) money.

What are the Makeup Preferences & Behaviours of Women? Field Agent recently conducted a survey of 500 women across the country. Our purpose was to understand how women shop for and use beauty products, especially cosmetics.

Below we answer 8 pressing questions to help beauty brands better serve female shoppers.

  1. Where do you purchase most of your cosmetics / facial skin care…and why?

Large pharmacy retailers, including Priceline and Chemist Warehouse, dominated the competition with 43% of 500 female respondents saying they purchase most of their beauty products from pharmacies. Department stores, such as, Myer and Target took out second place with 15% taking their shopping to the retail giants. Following closely behind in third place are specialty retailers, including Mecca and Sephora, with 11% of respondents turning to the category experts for their beauty shopping.

graph-q3But why? Women said that their preference to shop in pharmacies is due to competitive prices, regular discounts and sales, reputable brands, available testers, and great advice.


2. And what about specific retailers? Who’s winning women?

 To answer this question we asked, “Which retailers do you purchase beauty products from?” They were allowed to choose multiple options. Please note that this question asks about beauty products in general, not cosmetics specifically.

A staggering 72% of women cited Priceline as their main retailer for beauty products , followed closely by Chemist Warehouse (60%). Major department stores and supermarkets are also a popular choice for beauty shopping including Myer (43%) , Coles (41%), Woolworths (38%), Kmart (35%), Target (34%) and Big W (32%). Departments stores and supermarket shoppers state the convenience of shopping for beauty products whilst doing other essential shopping, trumps. In addition, the brand names available are generally well known at an affordable price point.


3. Why aren’t online retailers performing better among women?

Field Agent specifically asked women, who weren’t enthusiastic about shopping for cosmetics online, what barriers prevent them from purchasing more of their makeup and facial skin care from online retailers.

We presented them with eight potential reasons why online shopping may not be ideal for purchasing cosmetics. More than half (62%) said they need to be able to match their skin tone (or other cosmetic shades) when buying makeup and 52% stated they prefer to see/touch the product before buying it. A third significant barrier is the added cost of shipping, with 44% of respondents stating that it can make the product more expensive than when shopping at a bricks and mortar store.


4. What label claims do women really look for when purchasing cosmetics?

Few products are as full of marketing messages as beauty product packaging. But which label claims truly resonate with female shoppers? We presented our sample with 25 common makeup label claims—from “all natural” to “anti-aging” to “hypoallergenic.” Over half (56%) of the respondents mentioned sunscreen/SPF as an important ingredient in their decision making, closely followed by No Animal Testing, with 49% choosing to ensure their products are cruelty free. See the graph for results on other label claims.


5. Which cosmetic brands are winning the affections of women?

We pitted 25 popular makeup brands in a head-to-head competition by asking women, “Which brands of cosmetics do you use?” Here are 10 of the brands which came out on top:

  1. Maybelline (65%)
  2. Revlon (52%)
  3. L’Oreal (49%)
  4. Rimmel (39%)
  5. MAC (36%)
  6. Cover Girl (31%)
  7. Max Factor (31%)
  8. OPI (30%)
  9. Clinique (28%)
  10. Sally Hansen (26%)

Interestingly, two of the top-ten brands specialise in nail/hand products (OPI & Sally Hansen) suggesting that Australian women prioritise hand care just as much as facial products. Of the remaining eight of the top-ten, only two brands are considered to be ‘luxury’ brands (MAC & Clinique). The remaining six of the top-ten brands are ‘pharmacy’ brands, which supports the earlier statistic of 72% of women choosing to shop for skincare & cosmetics at Priceline due to their range of quality, reputable brands, affordable prices and good range

6. What matters most to women shopping for cosmetics?

Now we get into the critical value-driven questions. Where 1 was most important and 5 least important, we asked women to rank five potential priorities when shopping for cosmetics. Quality and Price/Value distinguished themselves as the most important priorities among women. In all, 27% of women ranked Quality as a #1 priority, while 26% ranked Price/Value as #1 priority.

Here is the full listing by percentage of #1 & #2 responses:

  1. Quality (56%)
  2. Price/Value (51%)
  3. Colour (to match skin tone, wardrobe, season, etc – 45%)
  4. Brand (26%)
  5. Specific Label Claims (ie, organic, hypoallergenic, SPF, cruelty free, etc – 24%)
  6. Name (1%) 

7. Why do women shop for, buy, and wear cosmetics?

Women buy and wear makeup, primarily to feel good about themselves. We asked them to rank potential reasons for wearing cosmetics on the same 1-5 scale used for the previous question. Resoundingly, respondents put “feeling good about myself” at the top of the list. Here are the reasons presented as a percentage of women who chose the subsequent reason as their #1.

  1. Feeling good about myself (53%)
  2. Presenting a polished/professional image (22%)
  3. Covering up defects or times I feel/look poorly (19%)
  4. Being attractive to others (4%)
  5. Out of obligation (2%)    

It’s encouraging to see that only 4% of respondents cited ‘to be more attractive to others’ as their primary reason for wearing cosmetics, perhaps showing the generational shift in body image. That is, it is more important to place emphasis on how one feels about themselves, rather than how one looks to others. 77% of women ranked the ‘wearing cosmetics out of obligation’ as ‘least important.’

8. What role does brand loyalty play in cosmetic purchases?

It all depends on the makeup category. For example, exactly half (50%) said they are loyal to a specific brand of foundation, while only 13% said they are loyal to a particular brand of eye shadow. The graph shows loyalty measures on other makeup categories.


Field Agent is the leader in mobile research and on-location audits. Through mobile technology, we allow companies to be with their customers…wherever they are. For this survey we asked 500 women to take pictures of the inside of their makeup drawers, as the sample photos below illustrate.

sample-agent-photos-of-makeupWhether you’re in need of shopper/consumer ‘in-the-moment’ insights, display audits, price checks, mystery shops, shopalongs, or a wide range of other compliance and research or competitor intelligence, we’ve got you covered.

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Alcohol Drinkers in Australia – Part Two: 8 Interesting Facts


Earlier this month we shared our infograph with 100 points of interest into the Alcoholic Beverage Preferences and Behavior of Australian adults

Today, we share a further 8 fascinating facts from this study.

We also demonstrate how Field Agent serves the beer, wine, and spirits industries with location-specific information and insights. As the images depict, Agents were dispatched to restaurants, bars, stores, and homes to capture photos of everything from in-store beer displays to in-home liquor cabinets.

  1. Full strength beer tops the drink menu

We presented respondents almost 20 different alcoholic beverages—from craft beer to brandy, champagne to wine (no mixed drinks were included). Agents were asked to identify every drink in which they at least occasionally partake. At 64%, full strength beer accrued the most responses, while the following also received favour from at least a third: red wine (58%), cider (58%), white wine (55%), vodka (54%), champagne (43%), whiskey (43%), craft beer (37%) and rum (31%). 


  1. The most common “alcoholic” beverages aren’t actually alcoholic

In addition to the alcoholic beverages above, respondents were also given the opportunity to select “non-alcoholic ingredients for making alcoholic beverages” they use at least occasionally.

Surprisingly, three non-alcoholic beverages—soft drink (Eg, Coke, Sprite) (73%), soda/mineral/tonic water (62%), and fruit juice (58%)—actually bested beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. Coffee (56%) also made a strong showing. Accordingly, a company doesn’t have to be in the alcohol industry play an important role within the alcoholic beverages industry.

  1. Men go for beer; women reach for wine

In our survey, an overwhelming amount of men made full strength beer (81%) their alcoholic beverage of choice. Following in second place was red wine (60%). Among women, however, white wine (68%) and cider (62%) were most prevalent.


  1. Aussies LOVE to party!

One objective of our survey was to understand when people drink beer, wine, and spirits.

We presented respondents with numerous possible drinking occasions – or times when they might enjoy a drink or two. The choices included sporting events, concerts, camping, air travel, holidays, and many other occasions (24 total). Respondents were asked to identify all the events when they normally have one or more alcoholic beverages.

At the top of the list, 83% said they usually enjoy at least one drink whilst at a birthday party, either their own or someone else’s. Following closely as popular occasions to fill the glass, was weddings (79%), dinner at a restaurant (79%), BBQs (78%) and holidays (71%).


  1. Top holidays for a drink: New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve

Australians love a public holiday. Our favourite times to indulge in a festive tipple include  New Year’s Eve (86%), Christmas Day (83%), Christmas Eve (62%), Australia Day (60%), and Boxing Day (53%). Well, if Santa gets a beer….!

  1. Supermarket bottle shops are the premier retail channel for alcohol purchases

Where do shoppers go for their beer, wine, and spirits?

At 88%, supermarket retailers such as Coles Liquor, Woolworths Liquor, Aldi Liquor and IGA Liquor amassed the most responses. Perhaps this is because of the convenience of being able to do grocery shopping at the same time as picking up a couple of drinks for the week ahead. Convenience will always trump for most Aussie shoppers.

  1. Party attendance is an important influence on alcohol consumption (and so is being married!)

The survey asked respondents whether they’re drinking more, less, or about the same as they were five years ago. Results were fairly split, with 30% drinking more, 36% drinking less, and 34% drinking about the same.

We followed up this question by asking consumers why their consumption levels have changed—that is, why they’re drinking more or less. In both cases, the top responses were fairly general. “I’m getting older” (44%) was the top reason claimed by those drinking less.

“I just enjoy it more” (60%) was #1 among those drinking more.

But it was interesting to note the role of party attendance on consumption levels. “I attend fewer parties” (43%) was the second highest reason for drinking less, and “I attend more parties” (43%) was the second highest reason for drinking more.

Amusingly, 15% of males mentioned that they drink less since getting married, whilst only 4% of women cite marriage as a reason for drinking less!

  1. Point-of-purchase has power to influence alcohol purchases

The survey also explored several “trigger events” that cause consumers to at least occasionally purchase alcoholic beverages.

It appears that in-store sales and discounts (71%) often serve as the influence for alcohol purchases. Public holidays are also a popular reason for alcohol purchasing with 41% citing this as their trigger.

Shopper marketing may also hold significant sway over the spending of many drinkers. For instance, 29% identified ‘in-store signage & displays,’ and an equivalent influence from ‘in-store sampling and demos’ as important trigger events for their alcohol purchases. Compare this to the 24% assigned to advertisements and commercials on television, radio, print and social media. What these figures do not take into account is the overall influence of a comprehensive marketing mix whereby all or a combination of these factors work synergistically as an influence to purchase.

Instant Visibility. Anywhere, Anytime.

As demonstrated above, Research and Mobile Audits get companies closer to distant business operations and customers.

Whether you need instant visibility inside stores, homes, restaurants, or some other location, we have 50,000 Australian Agents standing by right now, ready at a minute’s notice to be your ‘eyes and ears.’

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100 Proof Insights About Alcohol Drinkers in Australia [Infograph]


We have something special on tap for you.

Field Agent recently surveyed 500 drinking-age Australian adults (50% men/50% women) about their purchases of and behaviour toward alcoholic beverages. The sample consisted exclusively of self-identified drinkers.

We asked a range of questions, including:

  • What alcoholic beverages do you purchase? (Eg, beer, wine, champagne, vodka, etc)
  • What non-alcoholic beverages do you mix with alcohol?
  • From where do you purchase alcohol? (Eg, liquor stores, restaurants, mass merchandisers, etc)
  • On or during what occasions do you consume alcohol?
  • Are you drinking more or less than you were 5 years ago?

We extracted several key insights from the responses, which we share below as a rich, colorful infographic. Particular attention is paid to the differences between men and women.


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Maximise Vending Machine Sales

Summary: For many of us across the country, trips to the vending machine are a common occurrence. We surveyed 500 Australians, split evenly between men and women, to understand consumers’ attitudes towards and behaviour using vending machines.

What We Buy from Vending Machines

We’ve all been there. The mid afternoon trip to the ‘vendo’ to curb a craving.

We presented Agents with items commonly found in vending machines, asking them to select which they purchase.

With 57% visiting a vending machine mid to late afternoon, it seems that a sugar craving is the more popular reason to visit a vending machine with 62% of respondents purchasing chocolate and 59% choosing a sugar-laden soft drink. Savory snacks come in 3rd position with 58% on the hunt for a salty snack.

Interestingly, the second most popular choice of beverage is water with 51% choosing to quench their thirst with the elixir of life, which is aligned with the growing trend of the general population making more health conscious food choices.

“Consumers are more focused on health and have concerns about calorie intake,” says Alison Watkins, Managing Director of Coca Cola Amatil. With a 9.3% sales increase in still drinks and energy drinks categories, the group is planning on growing its still drinks category and continues to focus on offering smaller, 250mL soft drink cans, plus premium non-alcoholic drinks including ginger beer.


Barriers to Higher Vending Machine Sales

With society moving toward being cashless, one of the largest barriers for higher vending machine usage and sales is the lack of cashless purchase options such as Tap & Go or Apple Pay.

Q_18_graphJust under half (44%) mentioned that the greatest barrier to vending machine use is lack of carrying cash / change.

Other significant barriers to higher vending machine use is increased price – higher prices for basic items that can be easily purchased at supermarkets are making consumers think twice about impulse snack purchases. Machine location is another barrier with many Agents commenting that they rarely even see a vending machine in their day to day life. Finally, with the increase in consumers paying more attention to their health and food choices, 29% commented that there are simply not enough healthy options in vending machines.


Where do you regularly purchase snack (ie, non-meal) food and/or beverages from?

Almost all Agents (95%) stated that they regularly purchase snack foods and beverages from the supermarket either as part of their regular supermarket shop, or they would prefer to visit a supermarket for the purpose of a snack item purchase. Impulse purchases at the check out account for a quarter of all snack food/ beverage purchases.

37% mentioned that convenience stores/ petrol stations are where they purchase snack foods and beverages from.

The overwhelming response in favour of supermarkets as the preferred place to purchase snack food is primarily price driven with supermarkets offering far better value for money than vending machines. In addition, supermarkets give the consumer more control over the nutritional value of their snacking choices.

Q-15 Graph

For healthy returns, vending machines need to offer healthy options.

Healthy snacking isn’t a fad. It’s here to stay. Amongst our Agents, 58% mentioned that they are concerned about consuming healthy snack food and beverages; women are more likely to be concerned about consuming healthy snack food (63% female vs 53% male who gave a rating of 7+)

So what did they think about the healthy options available in vending machines? More than half (57%) of Agents considered salted nuts as not unhealthy snack option in vending machines, compared to a much lower number considering chocolate bars (19%) potato chips (18%) and chocolate bars (14%) as not unhealthy.

Q8 graph_V2What do these results say about our snacking habits?


As people become more educated about food and its influence on overall health, they are more and more conscious about making more healthy choices on what goes into their bodies. A movement toward better government regulation toward high calorie/low nutrition food is supported with an average of 50% of Agents agreeing that this is important.

Q12 graph_agree

In light of this movement, an overhaul on the product range in vending machines may be what is in order to improve their overall appeal and make them more attractive to the health conscious consumer.


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Mobile Research Agency of the Year – WINNER!

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The MRMW Awards are a celebration of innovation and excellence in the market research industry and aim to recognise the hard work of individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in mobile market research.

The Awards are judged by an international panel comprised of experienced market researchers, respected thought leaders in the field of market research and MRMW Advisory Board members. Winners are chosen based on the judges combined vote, ensuring a fair and transparent selection process.


We were up against some heavy hitters including Watch Me Think, so we’re super-pleased that Field Agent has been recognised as an industry leader in Mobile Research.

Read more about the MRMW Awards here.