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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.

What Your Shoppers Behaviour Can Tell You About Your Products

7 February, 2017 Leave a comment

A cartoon image of a brain pushing a shopping cart to represent shoppers behaviourIf your customers are not buying the products you are expecting them to, you may want to carry out some in-store research to find out why. The answers might surprise you!

With customers, the key to understanding what they are thinking is understanding what they do. Actions speak far louder than words, and carrying out video-based retail shopper behaviour research can tell you more than you’d think. By studying their interactions with your products, you can find out why they make the choices they do.

How Are Your Customers Reacting to Your Products — and What Does it Say About Them?

When encountering the product, do your customers…

  1. Not notice it and walk past?
  2. Look at the product but don’t engage with it?
  3. Engage with the product — picking it up and examining it — but then put it back?
  4. Put the product in their basket and then remove it before the checkout?

By using shopper behaviour research techniques on CCTV footage of your customers, you can find out what your shoppers are thinking, and how best to appeal to them.

Your Customers Ignore the Product and Walk Straight Past

If customers are walking straight past your display, it is likely that either they already have a preferred brand of this product or the entire category doesn’t appeal. To raise the profile of this particular product, you may want to try moving it to an aisle-end gondola to increase customer exposure. If the category is getting high footfall but that particular product is being ignored, compare it with the other products in the category.

Does your product stand out next to the other products? Often a product type will have a recognised colour scheme. For example, products for newborns will often be in white, or light pastel blues and pinks. Although using a different colour to the rest of the category will make your product stand out from the rest, it may not be beneficial to stray too far from the recognised scheme. Hot pink or electric blue baby products may stand out, but they probably won’t fit with the consumer’s idea of what products in that category should look like.

Your Customers Look at the Product but Walk Away Without Picking It Up

Retail shopper behavior can tell you if your product is uninteresting or doesn’t draw the eye. If customers are looking at your product but failing to engage with it, the product has failed to interest them enough. This could be because the product is in the same packaging as it has always been. If a customer has seen that same packet every time they shop that category, there is nothing to create new interest.

This can be changed, however, with the addition of shelf-ready packaging. These are cardboard containers that products are shipped in that are specially designed to act as display packaging when put on the shelf. These cover enough of the product to change the look of the packaging, prompting customers to examine the packet again.

If they look at your product but then instinctively reach for another, they may have a preferred brand in that category. Around 50% of a shopping trolley or basket consists of “grab-and-go items — items which the shopper buys on auto-pilot every time they shop.

Your Customers Physically Engage with the Product, Then Put It Back

If your customers are picking up the product, examining it and then putting it back, they have found a problem with the packet or the product. Usually, picking the product up is the halfway point to having it in the basket. Besides physical defects in packaging (caused by inadequate packaging materials or damage in transit) the shopper may be part of a category that needs to examine the products they buy more closely, such as a vegetarian or someone with allergies. Products may contain animal products or nuts and other allergens, and therefore need to be examined closely.

Shoppers may also be put off by other elements of the packaging, such as spelling mistakes or printing errors. Issues such as these make a product seem of a lower quality or even potentially defective.

Customers Put Products Back or Abandon Them After Putting Them into Their Basket

Customers abandoning products after putting them in their basket is a twofold problem. As well as reduced sales for that product, it can lead to product wastage, especially if it is a product that needs to be kept cool.

When tackling this issue, you should consider both the product type and where they abandon it — and whether they replace it with something else. Many products are abandoned if a cheaper alternative is found. This is especially evident within the frozen section of many stores. Fresh vegetables and even meat are left on top of the flat freezers, replaced in the basket by frozen versions of these products.

Little can be done about shoppers acting in this way, although if it is causing a major wastage issue it may be worth adding redirection signage, such as “Looking for frozen peppers? You can find us in the freezer aisle!” This lets shoppers know that the product is present in the frozen aisle, so they don’t pick up a potential replacement in case it is missing.

Treat products are often added to the basket and then abandoned later as the shopper thinks about their purchase. Perhaps it was an impulse purchase and they are on a diet or a product they aren’t sure about. This can be reduced by keeping treat products close to the tills. This means they are added almost as the shopper is out of the door, giving them a shorter period to second-guess their purchase.

By carrying out careful shopper behaviour research, you can determine why shoppers are favouring some products over others, and — more usefully — how to persuade them to try new products.

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.

Why the Right Packaging Is Crucial to Attracting Customer Attention

24 January, 2017 3 Comments

Image of lots of tins of store shelves demonstrating behaviour research involving packagingThe best way to appeal to customers in-store is to draw their eye. Getting customers to notice your product is the first step to getting it into their basket. With shopper behaviour research, you can find out how your shoppers really feel about your packaging.

Your shoppers use all of their senses when they shop in-store, but the experience is heavily weighted towards the eyes. So how can you ensure that your packaging appeals to them?

It is often hard to change retail shopper behaviour, with customers mainly buying products that they have bought before. It is key to attract customers who are new to the category. For example, if a customer has recently dyed their hair, they may well be on the lookout for a different shampoo. If they are seeking out a new product, it is usually packaging that will help them to make the decision.

What Elements Are Important When Designing Packaging?

Customers are drawn towards better packaging. It gives the product the impression of being higher quality than other products. This is why customers tend to pick mid-range store-brand products over value-range store-brand products, even if the two have similar contents. The right packaging can increase customer sales but the wrong packaging can decrease them. By employing shopper research techniques before releasing your new packaging, you can increase your chance of success.

If you have an established brand and are looking to redesign your packaging, you should first discover what elements customers use to identify your product. If customers know that your product is in a triangular blue box with a silver logo, retaining some of these visual elements will stop customers from struggling to find your product. They will be more likely to recognise a box in the same shape and size and with the same logo but in different colours, than one that is entirely different. Logos are crucial for customer recognition, which is why when logos change, they tend to evolve gradually over the years.

Materials Are Important — and Can Win or Lose a Sale

The materials you use to package your product can be key in whether a customer makes a purchase or gives it a wide berth.

Firstly, are the materials you are using appropriate to the packaging? While novel packaging can have its uses, they can quickly wear thin if the shape doesn’t contribute to the function. If a product is packaged in materials that don’t seem appropriate to the product type, shoppers may avoid the product.

Also, what quality does the packaging need to be? As well as being attractive, it needs to withstand being transported to the store, stocked, handled by shoppers and transported home. A product that is easily damaged at any of these stages has a decreased likelihood of being bought, especially if one damaged product has the ability to affect others. Shoppers are unlikely to buy a fabric conditioner that is covered in fabric conditioner residue, even if the bottle they are considering is intact.

How Colouring Can Affect Your Packaging

It’s well known that colours affect our decisions. People are advised to avoid using red in the bedroom to promote peaceful sleep and use blues and greens for creative spaces. But how does this translate to packaging?

Many brands rely on a specific colour which is recognisable outside of the retail environment, such as the specific dark purple (Pantone 2685C) that consumers associate with Cadbury’s. Cadbury’s are currently fighting Nestle over the exclusive rights to that colour for that exact reason.

The colouring you use should relate both to your logo and the impression that you want to give of your brand. To get an idea of which colours are already present in the field, you can carry out in-store research, examining the colour schemes of your competitors. You can either choose to match these colours, reflecting them in your product design, or contrast with them. You also need to be aware of the cultural implications of some colours if you are intending to supply internationally. Red, for example, represents prosperity in China, but danger in the Middle East.

The more colours you use on your packaging, the less serious or basic the product. There is an elegance inherent in two-toned design, but it may not be appropriate in all circumstances. For example, parents don’t tend to look for elegance in the packaging of their children’s toys.

Different colours have different implications. The difference between using a white background and a black background is vast. A white background is more basic and safe, whereas black displays power and authority.

Different shades have different implications. Green, for example, is seen as an eco-colour but can also represent wealth. Blue is a colour for trust, whereas red is exciting — but also signifies good value.

Utilising Shelf-Ready Packaging to Increase Customer Interest in Your Product

If you want to increase customer interest in your product, there are many different elements to consider. The first thing you should think about is the outer packaging.

Your products reach the supermarket shelf in two layers of packaging: the product packaging itself and the shelf-ready packaging, which is a tray or box in which the product has been shipped. Shelf-ready packaging usually has perforations, meaning they can be transformed into a simple display stand. These stands change the look of a product, which can prompt a customer to engage with it, picking it up to examine it properly. A product that is in the consumer’s’ hand is already halfway to the basket.

Shelf-ready packaging appeals to supermarkets as it makes shelf stocking quicker and easier. It also allows you to dictate the manner in which your product is shown on the shelf.

Getting Packaging Quantity Right

Shoppers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, and with that comes a disdain for unnecessary over-packaging. If, for example, your fruit comes in a tray which is in a plastic box with a cardboard insert and a plastic wrapper, shoppers are less likely to find that acceptable. With the rise of packaging-free supermarkets, consumers are signalling that they want less packaging, not more.

On the other hand, you also need to make sure that your packaging is sufficient. While oranges can be sold unpackaged, the same is not true for cereal or laundry powder. Using materials that are too thin to package your product leads to easy breakage in transit before and after sales, meaning that customers will be lead to think that your product is cheaply produced and low quality.

If you’re thinking of making a change to the colour, size or material of your packaging or display, you should consider the impact that this will have on the shopper. Focus groups cannot be relied on to give the same views as genuine customers. This is where in-store shopper research techniques can help. For example, a cosmetics display may score highly with focus groups who have both hands free, but be unusable for shoppers who are laden with bags and baskets. By trialling new packaging and display techniques on real shoppers, you can find out what they really think of your new developments.

Optimising your packaging? Give SBXL a call. 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.

How to Use Shopping Behaviour Analysis to Win the January Sales

10 January, 2017 Leave a comment

The January sales are huge for retailers big and small. Using shopper research techniques regarding promotions and colour, SBXL gives you some tips on maximising your January sales turnover.

After the huge sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the January sales have declined in popularity in recent years. By the time the New Year rolls in, shoppers now have less money and less desire to buy new things.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for retailers. Using the latest shopper behaviour analysis and SBXL’s expert shopper research techniques, the January sales could become a haven once more.

infographic showing how to maximise sales in the january sales

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The Psychology of Sales

Choosing the right level of discount is a complicated matter. Firstly, you need to decide on the level of profit you desire from each product. This could be incredibly low for some stores who wish to make a high volume of sales in order to clear old stock or simply attract passing trade.

Secondly, consider the findings of shopping behaviour analysis. If your product has been discounted from £500 to £400, you could either say ‘£100 off or 20% off’. The method that implies the greatest saving will be most appealing to customers – and this is often a simple case of which number is largest. This is something to consider on a case-by-case basis, so there are no hard and fast rules for promotional pricing.

Another thing to consider is the power of the number ‘9’. Simply changing your prices to end in a nine rather than a zero can have a huge effect. In fact, one study showed that more customers opted for a product costing $39 over the same product costing $34.

As well as the size of the discount, you should also factor in the length of the sale. For example, limited-time offers take advantage of the principle of urgency. If a product is labelled ‘50% off – today only!’, we are encouraged to act quickly, otherwise we risk missing out. Running a sale for several weeks could backfire, as people will become less anxious about missing the discount. Whether those shoppers ever come back is uncertain, so it’s best to get them the first time around.

The Effect of Colour on Retail Shopper Behaviour

Certain colours are perfect for attracting sales-hungry customers. As humans, we’re programmed to be alarmed by certain colours, including red and orange. While these may have traditionally be seen as warning signs, nowadays they provoke a different reaction. Browse any of the major national supermarkets and you’ll see red discount signs – and with good reason.

Red is a wonderful colour to get your customersí attention, so use it to highlight your most impressive discounts. Yellow is similarly striking, but is considered friendlier. For that reason, it’s ideal for the kids section in your store. Understanding retail shopper behaviour means being able to target different groups within the same store. Supermarkets and department stores have sections that almost every age group will be drawn to, so your use of colour should reflect that.

How to Court Full-Price Customers

Not everyone is looking for a 70% discount. Some shoppers are happy with a regular shopping experience without the chaos of stampeding bargain hunters. So how can you attract those who are willing to pay full price in the midst of the January sales?

Going back to our shopping behaviour analysis on colour, there are certain hues that imply a high-quality shopping experience. Using black or dark brown and green will give your store an air of luxury. The effect is that big discount crowds won’t be drawn in, letting your full price shoppers browse in relative peace.

This can be a risky move for certain retailers, so it works best for those who have a target customer with more disposable income and a traditional attitude to shopping. Premium jewellery shops and suit makers are two examples of retailers who could benefit from bypassing the January sales completely.

Coping With Large Volumes of Customers

With many shoppers getting time off work, and others ready to spend Christmas gift vouchers, the post-Christmas period can be the make or break season for retailers. On Boxing Day of 2015, department store Selfridges recorded sales of over £2 million by 10am, showing the effect that discounts can have on sales figures.

But not every shop has the facilities to deal with such a huge level of sales. Smaller stores may have to resist going all out on their discounts to avoid the chaos that comes with the biggest sales.

While increasing staff numbers and hiring security to deal with any skirmishes covers most eventualities, it’s also necessary to stay on top of potential hazards. In the melee, items may obstruct walkways and become dangerous. The last thing you want from the January sales is a lawsuit, so task your employees with keeping the store in a safe condition.

The post-Christmas sales are a stressful time for consumers and retailers alike. However, using a scientifically-tested promotions strategy, it could be a bountiful time for the latter. With SBXL’s shopper research techniques, your Christmas might come late this year.

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

How Does In-Store Shopper Eye Tracking Work?

27 December, 2016 Leave a comment

A close up image of an eye with light coming out of it and lines of computer code in the light demonstrating eye trackingYou may be wondering what shopper eye tracking is and how it can help you. By using this technologically advanced shopper research technique, you can find out more about your customers — how they behave and how they think.

A customer taking part in in-store eye tracking will tell you more than their opinion. In store eye tracking research tells you what your customers are looking at and what they aren’t.

The Eyes Are Your Window to Your Consumer’s Mind

Because eye tracking technology allows you to see what your customers are seeing, the guesswork is taken out of optimising your store. Instead of potentially expensive guesswork, you can target your changes at the parts of the store that need improving the most.

After the tracked shop, you are provided with a real-time video showing you where your customers spend most of their time looking.

How Do Eye Tracking Glasses Work?

To carry out eye tracking in store, customers are fitted with eye tracking glasses and told to go about their usual weekly shop.

The glasses have two miniature cameras fitted. One is directed in front, showing what the customer is able to see, and the other is directed at the customer’s eye, seeing what they are looking at. Their eye is illuminated with an infra-red light, not interfering with their sight but allowing the camera to take accurate readings. These readings are superimposed onto the video of their shop, showing you exactly where they are looking and when — and for how long. A microphone also picks up sounds from the participant and their surroundings, providing you with context.

Because the shopper is carrying out an undirected normal weekly shop they will act as they normally do, meaning that your in store research will have more accurate results. Rather than being directed, this method allows you to gather data on what an ordinary shopper sees. This is more accurate than a post-shop questionnaire as it shows what your customers are looking at unconsciously as well as consciously.

What Can In-Store Eye-Tracking Tell You?

Eye tracking can tell you a number of things. It can tell you about your store layout, your displays, and your products.

If customers are looking around, unfocused, in a specific aisle, it shows that there may be an issue with your store layout, especially if they are repeatedly focusing on aisle markers. It is likely that they are unable to find a product they are seeking. If, however, they are heading straight to products without hesitation or any apparent searching, they aren’t being attracted by offers and signs.

When the shopper is browsing the shelves, you’d expect them to pay attention to any number of things — promotional stickers, price tags, even making eye contact with cartoons on packaging. But when they pick up a product, the eye tracking may tell a different story. Is their eye drawn to an element that will help the product to sell, such as “low sugar”, “high fibre” or “now with 33% more”? Or are they being distracted by elements that don’t encourage them to buy the product, such as ingredients or the nutrients table?

Eye-tracking also tells you how customers feel about your prices. Are customers looking at the prices or the products? And are they paying attention to other price elements, such as pre-sale prices? These can often help a shopper to determine the “real world value” of a product, and as such assess how much they are saving by buying it at a reduced price.

You want the customer to focus more on the important things in your shop. We are drawn to oddities and mistakes, so anything strange will attract the eye. This includes errors in packaging such as spelling mistakes, which will make a product seem lower quality.

With eye tracking, you know exactly what your customers are paying attention to. If their eye is drawn to a section of the product that doesn’t help you to sell it, you may need to change the packaging design. The most important information should be the part that they see the most. Eye tracking is a great way to find out not only how your customers are looking at your products, but also how they are thinking about them.

If you think eye tracking could help you in-store, call SBXL today on 08707 669974 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.

How In-Store Research Can Be Vital for Your Company

13 December, 2016 Leave a comment

A magnifying glass over bars from a chart next to the word profit demonstrating in store researchShopper behaviour research has many benefits. Because it allows you to learn more about your customers, you are better equipped to meet their needs. Using the best available shopper research techniques, SBXL provides you with the tools to improve your shopper experience.

With a store that is easily navigable and products that are simple to find, you can gain increased sales, higher levels of store loyalty, and increased family-and-friends referrals.

Why Surveys Can Only Tell You a Limited Amount

Most businesses begin their in-store research with customer surveys. While these can give a low level of detail about your customers, they can quickly become misleading.

Customers don’t tell the full truth. Most of us, when asked about something we can’t entirely remember, will make something up. Rather than a conscious lie, this tends to be down to the brain filling in the blanks. We tend to utilise our short-term memory when carrying out routine procedures such as grocery shopping, meaning that we remember very little later on. We won’t be able to remember if we noticed that there was a larger range of fruit teas on offer than normal or if we had issues finding the products we normally buy. There is also an issue with the medium itself: shoppers are unlikely to want to give great detail in a written survey due to the amount of time it takes to write out.

Customer surveys mean that shoppers are free to forget, omit important details or even deliberately mislead the store as they are embarrassed about their motivations or actions. Shoppers are unlikely to tell anyone, for example, if a cereal box tears when they pick it up, scattering cereal across the floor. This is quite likely due to the fear of the “you break it, you buy it” rule.

CCTV-lead shopper behaviour research, on the other hand, has the power to remind customers about the moments leading up to every purchase, allowing them to remember vital details.

Case Study: Shopper Behaviour Regarding Fabric Conditioners in South Africa

Carrying out film-based shopper research allows stores to identify key issues with their stores or product range.

SBXL carried out in store research in a South African supermarket after the owners noticed that the majority of their shoppers weren’t buying fabric conditioner. CCTV footage showed that it wasn’t a matter of shoppers being uninterested in fabric conditioners, so why weren’t they buying the products?

Using CCTV customer interviews, SBXL managed to get to the root of the problem. The majority of shoppers were without access to hot water in their homes. This meant that although they were able to wash their clothes — as there were cold water washing powders available — they were unable to use the fabric conditioners, which were only suitable for hot water washes.

Following on from this shopper behaviour research, fabric conditioner that was suitable for cold water use was developed. This lead to a higher level of satisfaction for the customers and increased purchases for the supermarket.

Other Methods That SBXL Can Use for in Store Research

There are many methods of in store research that can improve your knowledge of your customers. Eye tracking can find out where your customers are looking and how long for, showing you areas that need to attract more attention. In-depth Xtraviews help you to get in-depth answers, using not only the shopper’s reply but their body language and tone as well. Video-led interviews use video prompts to get accurate answers from customers, getting shoppers to relive their entire shop.

Your customers may not be able to tell you how you can best optimise your store, but SBXL can help them to show you.

If you want to know more about your retail shopper behaviour, speak to Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd. We use 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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