Joined up retail thinking across all channels


A team of experienced retail thinkers
We offer a range of research services to deliver insight & forward thinking on:


Customer & shopper insight

Understanding that makes a differenceWe are passionate about delivering customer/shopper insight that will truly inform and aid your business. We believe that good insight joins up the dots across channels and makes a difference to brands really connecting with their customers.

Each research brief is different and whether it is about getting to compelling motivations, optimising the brand at point of purchase or understanding the competitive field, we use our expertise to design an approach that answers the tough insight questions.

From qualitative accompanied experiences to voxpops to online surveys - we have a broad range of methodologies to get to insight no matter the channel.

We also bring to bear our senior team’s extensive retail knowledge and marketing understanding, using this to build on customer learnings and ensuring that the insights uncovered are both relevant and actionable.

Get in touch today for a chat about how we can help – we’d love to hear from you.

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Concept & positioning development research

Insight at every stage,Good concept development research treats ideas with kindness and nurtures them. It is honest and realistic in feedback but always has one eye on whether there is anything in the idea that does work to engage customers.

We’ve had plenty of store concept, brand positioning and message positioning projects where we’ve told our client “sorry, customers do like it but it doesn’t shift behaviour/motivations/the brand to where you want it”.

What makes us different however, is the way we unpick customer response so that we don’t miss the chance to say “with this refinement, your concept will engage customers in this way”.

Our experience in this area spans understanding potential in early stage concepts through to refinements of fully implemented brand environments and shelf layouts. We know how to research brand positioning and concept positionings. We work with your customers to get it right.

From focus groups to accompanied shops, we have a broad range of methodologies to inform concept development cross-channel.

Get in touch today for a chat about how we can help – we’d love to hear from you.

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Customer centric insight delivery & consultancy

Informed direction,We are an agency of senior consumer insight executives, with pooled experience that covers much of the retail sector from digital channels to the competitive high street. In background, our team have worked in insight agencies, in advertising agencies and clientside. There’s not much that phases us and we’ve picked up a good deal of real retail industry knowledge and understanding along the way.

Week after week we spend time with customers seeing and experiencing retail from their point of view. Our consultancy services bring to bear this considerable experience for our clients. Be that writing overview reports on how the high street looks for the season to exploring what competitors are presenting in terms of key categories to joining brand ideation sessions as retail experts – we deliver an expert and considered view on the retail state of play.

Get in touch today for a chat about how we can help – we’d love to hear from you.

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Brand, comms & conversation insight

Understanding relevance, impact and engagement, Getting your message right in the retail space is key. Online and in store, brands can often struggle to build on successful media campaigns and make meaningful connections with customers shopping. Messaging can get overlooked or edited out, and what has been impactful on TV or print loses traction when placed in a window or used as backdrop to a homepage.

At eye level, messaging on information such as product newness, benefits or range navigation can get lost and customers can struggle to find their way.

We believe good insight helps clients unpick these issues to refine their retail comms and messaging for the better. What is the customer expecting to see to help them make a decision? What elements of a media campaign would most resonate at a purchase level? What gets in the way of them spotting and assimilating messages? What role do heuristics play in their response to the messaging?

Whether your brief is tactical - about making navigation work well - or strategic - making store décor communicate the right brand feel - we use our experience to design an approach that answers the tough questions.

Get in touch today for a chat about how we can help – we’d love to hear from you.

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Range & product evaluation

Satisfying your customer and maximising the opportunities, With a genuine desire in wanting to help clients with their research issues, the team at Red Onion are known for getting under the skin of customers. Understanding what makes them tick, what turns them on and off, what they’re looking for at all stages of their shopper journey – it’s these kinds of discoveries the team thrive on.

A big part of what we do centres around helping clients shape and implement compelling ranges which are going to tick the right boxes with their customers (and drive re-evaluation with those less engaged with the brand). Whether this is a pre-launch heads up on how the range might be perceived, highlighting key buys and those items customers are less sure about or a large scale product evaluation across categories, our team are well versed in coaxing customer response to what’s on your shop/digital floor.

Central to this of course, is placing any feedback within both a competitive and a multi-channel context. Exploring how synergistic the category feels, as well as how it fares compared to key competition is central to our approach.

Get in touch today for a chat about how we can help – we’d love to hear from you.

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OUR Approaches

Fundamental to our approach is seeing and experiencing through the lens of the customer/shopper – from accompanied retail experiences to co-creation on concepts. This combined with rigorous thinking gets us to true insight.

We offer a complete insight toolkit for a multichannel sector.

case study

Channel development research with O2

Brief: Understand customer awareness, needs and expectations for a key service across channels (SMN,, live chat, store); work out how to drive up awareness and use.

Approach: Qualitative accompanied experiences and individual tasks to explore strengths/weakness of service delivery across channels and work collaboratively on refinements needed; Quant exits to support learnings.

Outcome: at each channel; also able to identify communication gaps and suggest ways forward here.

case study

Major High St Retailer Christmas Engagement

Brief: Add a social media lens to qualitative Christmas range review research to capture excitement & buzz around the brand as a result of a comms campaign with unified messaging across TV, print media, social media and windows.

Approach: buzz tool to extract social media comments on the brand and comms, analyst review and interpretation.

Outcome: added layer of understanding to engagement levels and resonance of the campaign. Feed into overall research project and ability to give direction on how client could refine Christmas going forward.

case study

New digi-concepts in Retail

In the multi-channel retail world, understanding how channels work together for the benefit of the customer is key in maintaining competitive edge.M&S is one of a number of retailers we’ve worked with - both here in the UK and internationally – to explore appetites for, and usability of, in-store digital concepts.

Using on the ground methodologies, accompanying customers on their journeys and observing/engaging with them as they interact with new technology, gives us clear direction on how to refine POP messaging and communication of concepts to maximise impact. Moreover, helping clients understand when customers need and don’t need tangible product experiences is increasingly central to their in-store strategies going forward.

case study

New Look New Season Customer & Buyer Workshops

Brief: Bring customers, designers and buyers together to explore and build on customer response to product being designed and sourced for next season.

Approach: half-day collaborative workshop groups combining the rigour of a moderator lead group discussion, with frequent points of interaction between customers and the designers/buyers.

Outcome: direction on what trends and styling resonate well with customers, understanding of what makes a style wearable, input into final range decisions.

case study

Customer perception research

Central to our work as retail insight specialists, customer perception  research is a big part of what we do. As part of the client insight team, we help stakeholders understand how their customers see them as well as exploring what can be leveraged to help shift perceptions.

New Look id an example of a major High St brand who has engaged Red Onion many times to ensure the customer is at the heart of the business for both the short and longer term.

Most recently we delivered a large scale qualitative review for the team with a clear steer on where the focus needed to be on both environment and product to continue to drive brand momentum.

case study

Tigerprint Insight Generation

Brief: Deep dive on Christmas to identify fresh needs and occasions/behaviours – to feed into new product innovation and messaging.

Approach: Evolved ethnography with long term blogs (Nov-Jan), video diaries, accompanied Christmas shopping trips and use of Pinterest & Instagram to build material that would inspire the product teams.

Outcome: Research able to uncover new consumer moments to springboard innovation and re-framed some existing moments in a way that enabled new thinking among product teams.


A complete insight toolkit, for a multichannel sector.

  • We've worked with Red Onion over a number of years, during which they have successfully established themselves as a recognisable authority on our customer. More specifically, they have been fundamental to the development of our current in store strategy. It is always a pleasure to work with Red Onion, they consistently deliver actionable and insightful research with passion and commitment M&S
  • Red Onion just ‘get’ shoppers. Great projects, good insight, clear direction and very credible delivery of learnings. NEW LOOK
  • I’ve worked with Red Onion for over 7 years and there is a reason for that. They’re like an extension of the insight team – great strategic thinkers, agile and brilliant story-tellers. They are true retail / omni-channel gurus, always ‘get’ the business issues and deliver with authority and credibility. Most importantly I know I don’t need to worry when they are working on a project! O2


We are a group of passionate, highly skilled, strategic thinkers.


If you would like to get in touch, please try one of the numbers below - we’d love to hear from you.


Laura Betts
+44 (0) 7968 901877

Emma Meilak
+44 (0) 7766 911403

Claire Ralphson-Cook
+44 (0) 7823 333907