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Show Them You Care

16 June, 2017 Leave a comment

With Fathers day just around the corner and stores still full of their themed displays, SBXL investigate seasonal in-store promotions

We’re now halfway into the year, it’s soon to be first day of summer and Father’s Day is just around the corner. With 11 other months just like this one, it’s hard not to go into a shop without seeing competitive displays for whatever upcoming ‘season’ is next. It may be Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day, whichever the forthcoming season there’s no doubt brands start planning promotions early

Is it ever too early?

Seasonal marketing provides retailers with a supply of annual occasions to prepare for, giving an easy hook for promotions which can attract more shoppers and increase sales.

I’m sure many of you noticed the instore displays went up early for Father’s Day this month, while this isn’t unusual, can it ever be too early? Just this year Easter gifts were being sold while Mother’s Day promotions were still in full swing. With retailers really pushing their promotions, displays are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and elaborate as years go by. Some going as far as to take over entire shopping aisles to grab the shopper’s attention.

In 2014 the figures show consumers spent £467 million on Father’s Day gifts, £140 million on Father’s Day food and drink, and £52 million on Father’s Day cards and wrap. With that said, it’s not hard to understand why retailers start planning months in advance to make the most of the annual events.

‘Show dad how much you love him!’

Pictures of happy loved ones celebrating. Inbox’s flooded with promotional email offers, telling you to ‘treat dad to something special this year’. It’s the repetitive advertising we’re all so used to, nevertheless, there’s a reason they’re continually used, they work!

In such a competitive environment, it’s not enough to just promote your products, you need to offer something more. The best campaigns are the ones connect their branded product to shoppers on an emotional level.

Generally, there are 6 recognised emotions, happy, sad, afraid, surprised, angry, and disgusted. Brands use these categories to target shoppers because when we’re emotional, we’re less rational and are much more likely to buy.

But would you be surprised to hear the public are more likely to spend more money on Mother’s Day than Father’s Day?

So do we love our Mothers more, or is there something else at play? Respectively the holidays have a lot in common, both celebrate parents, both always land on a Sunday. So why are Dads short changed? Perhaps Dads just don’t have the emotional significance of Mother’s Day. Let’s think about promotional activity of the separate holidays. Offers of spa treatments, flowers and weekends away are all promoted on the lead to Mother’s Day. Alternately, practical needs such as tools, shirts and sporting goods are always popular come Father’s Day.

So what do you think? Even if it is the thought that counts, why are dads getting short changed? And is it ever too early to see an aisle takeover?

While you can’t measure affection, you can certainly evoke it. With pre-planned, creative marketing, brands have limitless opportunities to emotionally connect with shoppers. Who dares wins!

Masterful Marketing or Misleading the Masses?

6 June, 2017 Leave a comment

SBXL Masterful Marketing or Misleading the Masses?

Colour, shape, size and logo are all features on packaging, an important aspect of a product which undoubtedly influences the shopper’s decision to buy. Red for example, as well as being a “danger” colour, will make things seem more exciting and urgent. In contrast, black tends to give an air of higher value.

While some packaging choices like these may be clearer to understand, the writing on the pack is often overlooked. With the typical Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) in a supermarket having around a 1 in 500 chance of being bought, for today’s brands it’s more important than ever to take advantage of any opportunity to be noticed by shoppers.

Fictitious Farming

Renowned for giving tips and advice on a range of current consumer issues, a Rip Off Britain episode, aired 31/05/17 on BBC1 (available now on BBC iPlayer), discussed the issue of packaging in store. Focusing specifically on the tactics which many shoppers feel are misleading.  Phillip Adcock, Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained made a guest appearance on the popular show, giving his thoughts on the topic.

The debate came after Tesco was criticised for using fake farm names on their packaging. Woodside, Willow and Boswell farms are just three examples of names being used on their meats for sale.

So why is produce farmed in Britain so attractive to shoppers? In the episode, Phillip Adcock suggested shoppers have positive associations with farms, believing them to be both fresher and healthier options than other produce on offer.

Factual Farming

Farmers’ Markets, as the name suggests, give local farmers the chance to sell their produce directly and gives consumers the opportunity to buy farm-fresh, locally grown food. Shoppers know items bought haven’t been sourced far away and travelled hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to be sold. Today, with more people becoming concerned with food sourcing and ‘going green’, these markets are gaining popularity among shoppers.

That said, farmers’ markets also have the reputation of being more expensive., whether they are is another discussion itself, but confirmation bias is a powerful thing. You believe it to be true, you’re told it to be true, thus you continue to assume it’s true. One thing that is undeniably true however, is that farmers’ markets are not the most convenient. They aren’t on practically every road, and are only open certain hours, on certain days.

How does this relate to the issue of misleading packaging in supermarkets?

We know people want to buy locally farmed, fresh produce. We also know shoppers are busy people, likely to have a job, a family and other daily demands. They may not have the time so they most definitely want the convenience. Supermarkets have seen this as an opportunity, offering shoppers the convenience of fresh local produce, at what is assumed to be a cheaper price. Jackpot.

To find out about the tactics that are most likely going to engage your customers, talk to us on 01543 255 259 or email

Why Tony the Tiger really is G-r-r-e-at!

31 May, 2017 Leave a comment

With the typical Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) in a supermarket having around a 1 in 500 chance of being bought, it’s never been harder to grab shopper’s attention than it is today. So here is a small selection of thought starters from SBXL to help you stand out to shoppers in-store and online.

What you want from shoppers is their attention. Evolutionary speaking, our ancestors would need to quickly identify stimuli, to recognise whether they should fight, flight or find a mate. Subconsciously, everything would be classified into one of these three categories. Today, we are not faced with having to go out to hunt for our food, nor do we worry about the likely danger of wild animals. However, the wiring of our brains is still the same even though we live in such a different world.

Essentially, through evolution, we have evolved to use stimuli around us to make decisions. We act in a way to ensure the human race survives on Earth, leading us to our first opportunity to stand out. To capture your shopper’s attention, incorporate stimuli that would have posed an evolutionary threat. This means, next time you see a lion bar, or buy a box of frosted flakes, maybe you’ll consider what evolutionary impact had on your decision.

Another opportunity lies in colour, interestingly, evolution plays a role in this too. For example, shoppers are more likely to notice red stimuli. Why? Because red is the colour of fresh meat and many ripe fruits to name just two. However, a red sticker on a red box won’t amount to much, contrast is key too. If everything is vibrant then nothing is eye catching to shoppers. Before you decide on any colour, study the environment in which they will be used.

Motion is the third chance to stand out and grab attention. As mentioned above, our brains are still wired as they were for our ancestors, meaning we are subconsciously aware of movement that may be a threat. Whether it be a big moving window display, or a swinging sign above you in the aisle, movement captures attention. Shoppers are far more likely to look over if you include this in-store and online.

We have evolved to pay attention to other people, whether we are looking for threats, or trying to find a mate. Shoppers today are subconsciously drawn to people, so you can attract more attention to your products through the simple act of using people. Faces activate specific regions in the brain, and when altered, people detect changes more easily.

In summary, when looking to create eye catching displays that will attract more attention, recognising what we as humans are pre-disposed to is crucial. Evolution is a fundamental factor that should not be ignored.

If you think your products aren’t getting enough attention in-store or online, let’s talk. SBXL specialise in analysing real shoppers, really shopping. If you’d like to find out more contact us on 01543 255 259 or email

Experiential Shoppers and Meatballs – An Ideal Combination?

17 May, 2017 Leave a comment

Ikea Restaurant Experiential Shopper

To understand your shoppers, you need to know who they are, and how they buy. In our last blog we discussed how well you know your shoppers, doing so in terms of the five modes of shopping we experience.

We know that the experiential shopper uses their senses as much as possible to experience an item. As well as looking at it, they also smell and touch it, experiencing the product as much as possible before making a final decision.

IKEA gives the experiential shopper a whole world of product to explore and experience. Shoppers wander around, getting lost in a maze of kitchen set ups, opening draws, walking over rugs and sitting in chairs. Many of these shoppers also take a visit to the in-store café, before attempting to track down any chosen flatpack furniture for a future assembly attempt. So, with recent rumours of an IKEA expansion, further exploration of experiential shoppers seemed an appropriate response.

What Do We Know

IKEA are considering a standalone restaurant. Customers would be able enjoy the classic meatballs and chips, without setting foot near a flat pack cupboard. At first there was shock. IKEA themselves have said 30% of their customers go there to eat and so there is certainly a customer base for an IKEA restaurant. However, giving these shoppers a reason NOT to go into the store seems risky.

Head of food operations, Gerd Diewald has said, “We’ve always called the meatballs ‘the best sofa-seller’”. So why are they considering it?

The simple answer is that IKEA deem it a risk work taking. They have seen a market opportunity with a new profit source; really it would be unwise of them to not at least consider the opportunities it holds.

More Than Just Meatballs

IKEA stores are already known for the experience they offer, there seems no reason as to why their restaurants couldn’t be known for that too. In fact, a standalone restaurant may be the perfect opportunity to enhance their customers’ experience. The move would give IKEA a unique chance to provide customers with a genuine, real-world experience of their products. Patrons would be sitting on an IKEA chair, at an IKEA table, eating off an IKEA plate with IKEA cutlery… you get the idea.

Sneaky? Not really. Shoppers want to try before they buy, what better way to trial possible furniture than to use it as you would at home, to sit and eat. La Cour, the Managing Director of IKEA has said, “I hope in a few years our customers will be saying, ‘IKEA is a great place to eat — and, by the way, they also sell some furniture.’”

With successful pop up shops in London and Paris an IKEA restaurant expansion could lead to a whole new way of experiential shopping, although no plans have yet been finalised.

Shoppers needs are quickly evolving, for an in-depth discussion on Shopper Modes read our previous blog here. SBXL specialise in analysing real shoppers, really shopping. To find out more contact us on 01543 258189 or email

Less is More: The Paradox of Choice

2 May, 2017 Leave a comment

SBXL Less is MoreImagine a display with 24 types of jam on it. Various flavours and promises of quality jump at you from every direction. There is so much choice and you simply can’t decide which jam you want! So instead of making the decision, you leave the jam behind. Why?

You would think that the greater the choice, the greater the chance of a sale. 24 types of jam is far superior to 6. As with 24 jars of jam every customer will find something they want. Right?

Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper debunked the idea that ‘more is more’ with their now famous Jam Study in 2000. While a larger display of jam certainly attracted more people, the pair found that the smaller selection actually resulted in more sales, all thanks to the paradox of choice.

The ‘Paradox of Choice,’ also called ‘Choice Overload,’ shows that greater numbers of options lead to a more daunting shopping experience. Too much choice results in too many disparate options to compare and too many variables to factor in. This simply is not the way the human brain likes to work. We like things to be simple.

In a new study, Kellogg researchers have taken a fresh look at data from many paradox of choice studies and have identified specific occasions where reducing choices for shoppers is most likely to boost sales:

  1. Complex choices: When people want to make a quick and easy choice
  2. Difficult choices: When making the right choice matters/selling complex products
  3. Incomparable choices: When you show options that are difficult to compare
  4. High effort choices: When your customers are unclear about their preferences

Beating the Paradox

So is the only option to cut back on the number of customer options? Not at all! There are many ways to simplify the choice making process without sacrificing breadth of product. The most basic, and most effective, way is logical sub-categorisation to make each product feel more manageable.

A complex choice can be simplified by catering for “Grab & Go” shoppers for example. The Food To Go area in most super-markets is a great illustration of this, offering a balance between availability and limitation of options. Alternatively, if a choice is more difficult due to a complex product, clearly marking customer needs and offering error insurance on the aisle will help simplify the process and offer peace of mind, making a sale more likely.

There are other times where all the customer needs is any way of making a comparison, however spurious. If a customer is trying to compare two incomparable products then offering hero products, for example, ‘No1 best-selling instant coffee’, ‘Voted best tasting freshly ground’ etc. will minimise the need for a choice at all. This, coincidentally, is how most in-store offers work. This strategy also works for high effort choices, ones where the customers don’t really know what they want. In this case, the customer often just needs ANY reason to buy a product, such as an award or recognised recommendation from a third party, something to separate it from the others.

A solid understanding of how your customers think and shop, and being able to provide for these needs, should be the cornerstone of any retail experience. The easier it is for your customer to buy, the easier it is for you to sell.

When we have run our own research into sub-categorisation and signposting here at SXBL, we have seen up to 45% category growth in some cases. We can help you do the same. If you want to improve category segmentation or are curious to know what makes psychologically good, shopper oriented sub-categorisation then why not get in touch?

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.

Egg-cuse me? Shrinkflation unwrapped in time for Easter

13 April, 2017 Leave a comment

shrinkflation in time for EasterPicture it. Easter Sunday, you see the box with the shiny tightly wrapped egg trapped inside that you want to liberate. You open the box, get rid of that plastic, take out the egg and unwrap the foil. You can’t resist giving it a quick smell before you crack it open with force and take a bite or two (or three). A yearly excuse to eat your weight in chocolate, with the day fast approaching will Easter be as egg-citing this year?

Looking back at 2016, chocolate lovers everywhere were dealt blow after blow by something now commonly referred to as ‘shrinkflation’.

Taking a moment, let’s recap the most memorable changes so far. In October last year, Terry’s chocolate orange was cut by 10%, just months before the Christmas period began. A few weeks later, Mondelez International increased the gaps between the legendary triangular treat we know as Toblerone. Meanwhile, confectionery giants Mars lived up to their Maltesers slogan ‘the lighter way to enjoy chocolate’. First by cutting down individual bags then moving on to their sharing bags; both within six months.

It was no surprise to hear voices in January questioning what the public should expect come Easter, with many expecting shrinkflation to continue.
Up until now the only egg to be effected has been the Cadbury Creme egg. Following an ingredient change, fans of the gooey treat were saddened to find the pack size dropped from six to five. Would Easter would turn out to be the exception (or should we say, egg-ception?).

With the introduction of giant Kinder Bueno eggs and luxury solid Easter eggs, hopes were raised that Easter was cracking the trend of shrinkflation. However, at least three popular eggs have been identified as being smaller than in previous years; with some being cut by up to a fifth. A Maltesers egg has shrunk by 12%, a Galaxy Egg with Minstrels has been reduced in size by 14% and a Mars and Friends Easter egg has reduced in size by almost 20%!

So will these reductions threaten the annual chocolate binge?
Or are shoppers willing to pay a little egg-stra?

A recent study by SBXL found that 62% of shoppers will buy an Easter egg this year. Of those buying eggs, a whopping 77% will be doing so from a supermarket.

But what are you really buying? As a long-standing tradition for many, shoppers aren’t buying into the price of an Easter egg. Instead, they’re buying the emotional aspect associated with the chocolate treats. Children and adults alike are consumers come Easter, with no age restriction on the excitement of buying, or receiving an egg.

We know emotional reactions are 3,000x quicker than rational thought. We also know the persuasiveness ratio of emotion to reason is 24:1. Easter is an exciting time, excitement being just one of over 142 emotions. By better understanding this emotional alignment shoppers have with Easter products, you can get a better grasp on how to improve your sales.

Without understanding the strong role emotions undoubtedly play in shopping, it’s easy to assume the right choice is to shrink a product to keep the price the same. Maybe you’ve conducted some research with shoppers who have told you they’d be happy with that. We have news for you… shoppers lie, shoppers get confused and shoppers don’t know what they want. If price was all that mattered, brands wouldn’t succeed.

Let’s think about that. Shoppers know the brand you buy is more expensive than own label options, but they keep buying it regardless. Why? Because they’re emotionally connected to that brand. They know it and trust it. The latter of which is crucial for maintaining a good relationship with shoppers.

Unfortunately, with brands quietly reducing sizes, many shoppers feel they are being ripped off. Leading to devaluing the brand and a decline in that all important shopper trust. Surely the better option would be to keep the products shoppers know and trust and just increase the price. If you’ve done your job right and established trust, your shoppers will still feel the emotional attachment and dig a little deeper. The richer the emotional connection, the more likely a shopper is to continue to buy.

Easter is an exciting time, with potential for a huge emotional draw. We all know advertising can be a powerful way to communicate, so it follows you use this come Easter. With emotionally enticing adverts to all out POS in-store displays, shoppers are pushed to take action and buy. Take a little free advice from SBXL. Instead of persuading shoppers to buy Easter eggs, remind your shoppers of the emotional experience they’ve had with it! This is what will make the real difference in the long term.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.

Retail Shopper Behaviour: An Evolutionary Explanation [Infographic]

4 April, 2017 Leave a comment

A series of silhouettes depicting the evolution of shopping

As evolved as we are, human beings are still motivated by antiquated forces. Our survival instincts, including the desire to eat, reproduce and be safe, can all affect our shopping habits. SBXL looks at how insights into our lizard brain — the part responsible for the most basic survival instincts — can help to explain retail shopper behaviour.




Our most basic human instinct is to survive. Although the modern world is far safer than the one our ancestors evolved in, we’re still just about as paranoid and fearful as they were. Even our weekly grocery shop is shaped by our desire for self-preservation.

  • Consume High-Calorie Foods

Within the need to survive is the desire to drink, eat and breathe. In prehistoric times, our ancestors would opt for high-calorie foods as a survival mechanism, because food was often scarce. Consuming extra calories to prepare for times of hardship has spilt over into the present day. However, as most of us have easy access to food, this can be dangerous for the waistline.

In terms of retail shopper behaviour, this translates to favouring high-fat, calorie-dense foods. If you find yourself craving red meat and processed foods, you can thank your ancestors for that.

  • Avoid Harm

As humans, we want to ensure that we and our families are safe from harm, and this extends to what we eat. Own-brand goods with less attractive packaging can set off our internal triggers.

One study found that 73% of interviewed consumers said they rely on packaging to assist with their shopping decisions, which shows the importance of label design. Our minds tell us that lower quality packaging could indicate a poor-quality product. The desire to buy branded products, therefore, is based on the belief that the branding is representative of a decent quality product.


Once survival is guaranteed, our next instinct is to pass on our genetic material. Of course, not everyone feels this urge strongly, but it’s a good starting point for explaining certain aspects of retail shopper behaviour.

  • Attract Mates

It’s a stripped-back theory of attraction, but our longing to attract potential mates can lead us to make certain purchasing decisions. Health and beauty products target our desire to increase physical attractiveness, which has been seen to relate to social status, self-esteem and positive feedback from others.

Products such as facial scrubs and tooth-whitening toothpaste sell us the idea that we could be more attractive with said products, and therefore more appealing to others. Branding that displays ‘beautiful’ individuals prompts a longing within us to achieve that status.

  • Protect Ourselves and Our Family

Our desire to protect extends beyond our preference for quality packaging. Retail shopper behaviour is shaped by our own code of ethics and morals. For example, buying ethically sourced fruit or sustainable toilet paper displays our instinct to protect our wider environment.

Most of the consumers who buy ethical products are middle-aged — the age group most likely to have young children of their own. While disposable income is also higher in this group, the theory of evolutionary protection is a potential contributing factor.


To increase our chances of appearing attractive to mates, there are a number of things we humans are wired to do. Our desire to acquire social status, as well as our need to develop in an ever-changing world, are two things that translate to the contents of our shopping baskets.

  • Acquire Status

Products that are seen as “premium” or “luxury” are attractive for several reasons. Firstly, they take advantage of our tendency to trust higher quality packaging. Secondly, they contribute to our social status and are innately connected to the concept of power.

Studies have suggested that status symbols are such because they remain out of reach to many people. Buying products out of one’s price range can help to forge an image of power and wealth beyond mere social class. Premium goods in the supermarket might, therefore, be alluring for reasons other than perceived quality.

  • Grow, Learn and Develop

In a rapidly changing world, we’re forced to develop or get left behind. Evolution, after all, is the process of changing to adapt to the world that we live in. In shopper behaviour research, this equates to the act of buying something new to us. Shaking up our routine in the form of new purchases encourages personal growth — something that every successful generation of humans has had to embrace. If you find yourself reaching for an exotic new sauce in the supermarket, it could be down to your lizard brain.

a picture of a lizard showing your lizard brains affect on the evolution of shopping

Of course, there’s far more to retail shopper behaviour than evolutionary psychology tells us, but it’s a good place to start. Once we understand our primal desires, we can start making more informed decisions in the supermarket.




SBXL understands the nuances of retail shopper behaviour, and knows that there is far more to buying patterns than evolutionary psychology. Phillip Adcock, Managing Director of SBXL, is one of the world’s leading authorities for thought leadership and genuine shopper insight. Browse our wealth of shopper behaviour research and find out how to make your product packaging maximise communication with the average shopper.

How the Music You Play In-Store Can Affect Retail Shopper Behaviour

21 March, 2017 Leave a comment

 Sheet music with lights behind it to highlight shopper behaviour research and the influence of musicMany stores rely on radio stations to provide their in-store atmosphere, while others have a CD on loop. But with shopper behaviour heavily dependent on the store surroundings, is this the best way to provide a shopper soundscape?

We all respond to sound on many levels, with emotional, intellectual and subconscious responses. Is your store taking advantage of this natural reaction?

Your Store Is an Environment Where You Have Complete Control — Make Sure You Are Maximising Your Ability to Change Shopper Behaviour

You know that your shoppers’ behaviour is influenced by all of their senses. Even the colour and size of labels can determine whether your products come across as valuable or not. By tweaking the different sound elements available to you in-store, you can optimise your shop for the people who shop there, encouraging positive shopper behaviour such as adding extra items to their shop. This means you can determine how they feel while shopping, how quickly they shop and how much they spend. We all react to many aspects of sound. As well as an emotional response, we have an intellectual response, responding to tone and pitch as well as the words that are being said.

There are many elements to consider when tweaking your in-store aural atmosphere. As shoppers, we both actively and passively use sound when we shop. We actively listen to products to find out if they are fresh, for example, or made of a cheap material. At the same time, we are passively absorbing the soundscape of the store. This soundscape can often unwittingly influence our customers, with unpleasant sounds such as beeps or Tannoy announcements negatively affecting their moods.

Shopper Demographics Can Make a Big Difference to the Music You Should Use In-Store

If your store is pitched at a specific age range, you may be considering using music aimed at that age range. While that can be attractive for some stores — a store for teenagers, for example, is more likely to achieve positive results with chart hits than with classical music — it can drive shoppers outside of that specific demographic away. Stores for very young children will usually be catering to the parents of the children who won’t want to hear an endless loop of nursery rhymes.

Expensive Music Can Persuade Your Shoppers to Spend More

As well as appealing to specific demographics of shopper, some musical genres can have a particularly positive effect on shopper behaviour when used with specific products. Expensive products such as wine, suits or bridal clothing pair well with classical music. Classical music gives the store a high-class tone and can persuade shoppers to buy more expensive items, and to feel that the items they are buying are worth more.

Faster Music Makes Shoppers Shop More Quickly

Speed is another element that can dramatically change shopper behaviour in store. Shoppers will often move at a speed that can be changed by the music or sounds around them. Have you ever noticed that your speed slows down when you shop in supermarkets? They often play slow music to persuade their shoppers to walk and shop more slowly.

Fast music makes your shoppers move faster, which can have its advantages if you want shoppers to move through your store quickly. It can also have the side effect of making them more impatient, causing them to consider leaving if confronted by long queues.

Slower music allows your shoppers to relax and browse more slowly, allowing them to be tempted by impulse buys and add-on products.

By paying attention not only to what your customers are buying, but what they see and hear during their shop, you can identify issues and optimise your sales conditions, ensuring increased customer satisfaction and more sales.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.

Shopper Behaviour Research: Food Samples Can Make or Break New Products

7 March, 2017 Leave a comment

A heart shape made from various fruits to demonstrate retail shopper behaviour research on food samplingFood samples are a powerful tool to raise awareness of your brand, but in the wrong hands, they can have little to no effect.

Sampling is a great way to let shoppers try your new product without having to commit to buying them. They can give a massive and permanent boost to sales, but only if they are carried out wisely.

Sampling: The Wrong Way to Do It

The easiest way to give out sample products is also the way that provides the least impact. By using generic packaging and giving out tiny portions to customers, you fail to show the product to its full potential. If your staff don’t know much about your product and don’t show much enthusiasm, don’t expect your shoppers to change their retail shopping behaviour either.

Our senses are not limited to taste when we try samples in store. You could be providing tasters of a delicious product, but if it doesn’t look or smell appealing, shoppers won’t be attracted to it. And it’s worth considering the other senses when packaging your samples. Recent studies have shown that meals taste better and are perceived as higher quality when eaten with heavier cutlery.

Why You Need Your Food Samples to Appeal to All Five Senses

Shopper behaviour may vary between shopping modes, but we use all five senses when we make decisions about what to buy in store. Samples, therefore, need to appeal to as many of these senses as possible. Allowing your sample to appeal to more senses lets the sample make the biggest impression on your shoppers.

Like what you see?

Making sure your samples are visually appealing is the first and almost the most important task. Shoppers won’t want to try a sample that is unattractive. You also need to make sure that shoppers know what your product is. The easiest way to do this is through branded plates or cups. If you don’t have branded tableware, ensure there are several full-size products around the sample counter. This allows the shopper to associate the product with the brand name.

Smelling a product is halfway to tasting it

Our senses of smell and taste are closely linked, and smelling a product can entice a shopper to try or even buy it. If your product has a particularly appealing scent, make sure it is in a situation where the aroma can circulate and isn’t in competition with other strong scents, such as coffee or fish. 30% of shoppers will rely on sense-based shopping behaviour, smelling the products they are considering before buying them, so it is well worth paying attention to.

Do your products crunch or squelch?

Sound is very important to products — not only the sound the product makes, but also the way the sample handler sounds. While making sure that a crispy product sounds and feels crispy enough, you should also consider the training of your samples staff. If they come across as knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product, shoppers are more likely to trust their opinion.

Making sure your product doesn’t fall apart in your customer’s hands

Even if it’s packaging they will end up throwing away, customers tend not to like packaging they view as flimsy and cheap. The full-size products in the display should be heavy and solid, allowing them to seem high quality and worth buying.

Unsurprisingly, the most important sense for sampling is taste

Your product tastes good. That’s a given. But are you giving it the chance to really showcase its talents? Two of the main issues with sampling are size and temperature. Products are often served in meagre portions that don’t allow shoppers to capture the full taste, and often too hot or too cold to do the taste justice. Make sure your product is served under optimum conditions — after all, one taste test could change your shoppers’ behaviour permanently, leading to a lifetime of weekly purchases.

How Optimal Sampling In-Store can Change Retail Shopper Behaviour

Trying a product in-store doesn’t just potentially mean that a few shoppers buy that product on that particular day. Sampling can cause a major uplift in sales — and not only amongst sampled products. Trying samples in-store encourages shoppers to try new products — even those that aren’t being sampled. This can lead to an overall shopping basket expenditure increase of 10% on the day.

For the product itself, there is usually a marked uplift of buyers on the day, with around 656% more sales, and a 90% increase in sales thereafter.

If you are trying to boost the profile of your product, try sampling. The results could surprise you.

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.

Change Consumer Behaviour: Stop Shoppers from Ignoring Your Promotions

21 February, 2017 Leave a comment

A woman with her arms in the air surrounded by sale signs demonstrating shopper behaviour research and its impact on promotionsThe secret of appealing to your customers isn’t in reduced prices but in using psychological methods to attract their attention.

If your shoppers are ignoring your products, your promotion strategy could probably do with an overhaul. Rather than just increasing the amount of promotions on offer or decreasing product prices, think outside the box. Carrying out shopper behaviour research can give you a better idea of what it is that makes your shoppers pay attention to offers.

Shoppers Are Attracted to Things That Are Bright, Bold and Clear

Have you thought about including a promotional colour in store? By displaying sale items with a label of a bright, distinctive colour, you can train your shoppers to look for that colour in store. This means that when they see a label in that colour, they will naturally assume that it is reduced price and therefore good value.

Making changes will always increase customer interest as it prevents customers from shopping on autopilot. Increasing the size of your promotional labels and stands will make them easier to see, attracting customer interest. Maximising the amount of time that your shoppers can see your promotions also increases the chance of them interacting with the product. This is the reason behind the success of the aisle-end gondola.

Types of Offer Can Change Retail Shopper Behaviour in Different Ways

Retail shopper behaviour is often hard to change. Thanks to our shopper behaviour research, we know that shoppers will ignore promotions unless they can quickly see the benefits. Make sure your promotions are easy to see and understand. The right combination of pricing and promotion can greatly increase shopper interest, but it is often hard to strike the right balance. There are three main types of promotion at play in store.

Multi-buys encourage the shopper to buy more of a product or range of products. ‘3 for the price of 2’, for example, or ‘4 for £1’. Shoppers will often buy products that are on promotion even if they don’t buy enough to qualify for the multi-buy. A product on offer will usually achieve a higher quantity of purchases than one at full price. This is because shoppers pay attention to promotional material and may use it to choose products.

Discounts such as ‘half price’ or ‘20% off’ encourage the customer to buy single products at a reduced price. Shopper behaviour research has shown that phrases such as ‘half price’ are better than ‘half off’; half off implies that there is less product available rather than a reduction in price. These offers definitely increase the perceived value of the product; shoppers often feel lucky to pay the reduced price. This is the sales model of TK MAXX, who rely on shoppers valuing the products by the original price, making the reduced price seem excellent value.

‘Buy one, get one free’ is similar to a multi-buy, but the use of ‘free’ encourages shoppers to buy more. Everyone loves to get something for nothing, and they won’t always calculate that ‘buy one, get one free’ actually means ‘buy two for half price’.

Different Types of Price and How They Affect How Retail Shoppers Perceive Product Value

You might think that product prices are linear in relation to value, so you may be surprised to find out that they aren’t. Elements such as price syllables, product comparison, and which numbers begin and end a price all play a role in the perceived value of a product.

Curiously, one of the main ways we judge the price of a product is the number of syllables. Shopper behaviour research has shown that as £3.90 is phonetically shorter than £3.68, it appears less expensive, despite being a higher number. This means that by reducing the syllable length of your prices, you can increase the impression of your products as good value.

Product comparison can have a major effect on your retail customers’ perceived value of a product. By putting a ‘normal price’ product next to a more expensive version, you can easily make the cheaper of the two more appealing. You can also use price comparisons to persuade shoppers to make the more expensive choice. If you display a small £1 bag of sweets and a large £3 bag of sweets, people will usually go for the smaller bag. But introducing a £2.50 medium bag of sweets makes the £3 bag of sweets look better value, making shoppers more likely to buy it.

You should be aware of the effects that different numbers can have on the perceived value of your prices, especially in labels comparing original and discount prices.

When creating the full price for a new product, charm pricing is one of the easiest ways to increase the perceived value. Charm pricing involves ending a product price in ‘9’ (e.g. ‘£3.49’ or ‘£9.99’) and makes products seem cheaper and more appealing with a fall in price of only 1p. It may seem like a well-known trick, but charm pricing can increase product sales by nearly a quarter.

A way to make a sale price seem of even greater value is to use a different psychological method: reducing the left-hand digit. This is because we read the left hand digit as being the overall price for the product, so if a product is reduced from £4.20 to £3.99, we will read it as a greater discount than it is. This is because we calculate the price based on the first digit, meaning that £3.99 is closer to £3 than £4 to our easily fooled subconscious.

The human brain is limited by how much it can process at any one time, and with hundreds of brands on display in each aisle, it is often drawn only to the factors that stand out. The key to perfecting your shoppers’ journey in-store is in the presentation — are you confident that your store is the best that it can be?

If you want to make lasting improvements to your retail customer behaviour, contact Phillip Adcock today. Phillip is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco, and B&Q.

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