Investigating Customers Expectations
Helping Sidcup BID and Sidcup businesses
The Sidcup Business Improvement District [Sidcup BID] in Kent was set up to improve the Town Centre for retailers and other businesses.
Sidcup BID commissioned Fieldwork Assistance to help them understand more about the expectations of the popular town centre’s shoppers and visitors.
Sidcup presents a rather different challenge to most town centres. There are two major colleges, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, with nearly 750 students and Bird College for Dance, Music & Theatre Performance with well over 100 students. They use the town centre facilities as well as Sidcup residents and commuters.
Intuitively we felt that students might have different perceptions of Sidcup and so the quota included a specific proportion of students. We obtained agreement from both colleges to allow interviewing on or near their respective campuses. Dates and locations for interviewing were agreed. This meant we ended up with a focused survey of 300 shoppers and 100 students in Sidcup town centre
We helped to develop the questionnaire with Sidcup BID and their consultants. We tailored a number of the questions to meet their specific circumstances. Some questions were generic and included both prompted and unprompted responses. The same basic questionnaire was used for both surveys with minor variations as between shoppers and students.
The key topics were:
- What are the main reasons for visiting Sidcup?
- How do people get there?
- What do they like most about the town centre?
- How often and when do they normally visit?
- What would help to improve their experience?
We planned a schedule across weekdays, weekends, daytime and ‘evening’ to capture the views of both Sidcup residents and students from the colleges. We conducted interviews at agreed locations to achieve the target of 400 interviews – a total designed to give a statistically robust data set for subsequent analysis.
Full postcodes were collected as well as standard demographic data at each interview. So we were able to provide detailed ‘heat maps’ of the Sidcup catchment area – where every visitor came from. And using Acorn data we also had analysis of their lifestyles.
The main findings were:
- The main reason, and so visit-driver, for visitors is the convenience of Sidcup.
- Buying food is the basic reason for visits, so food stores are the key anchors.
- Sidcup has loyal, regular and frequent visitors for shopping.
- Students visit the town centre fairly frequently, but less so than other visitors.
- The town centre could be improved so that it has more appeal as a place to socialize, eat and drink.
- Car parking needs better communications and further investigation
The result of the research was that Sidcup BID ended up with a much better understanding of how the town centre worked and of visitors’ motivations. The BID and local businesses have been able to focus marketing, promotions and a programme of events to increase visits from shoppers and students.