Many 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Food 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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’.
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 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.
When encountering the product, do your customers…
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
You 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.
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.
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.
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.
Shopper 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.
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.
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.
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.
Are your customers behaving in unexpected ways? They won’t tell you when things are wrong; you need to look at their body language, eye movement and shopping behaviour.
By analysing the way that your customers behave when navigating your shop layout you can see if anything is wrong in-store. Using in-store research, eye-tracking and CCTV shopper analysis, SBXL can ensure that your store is a comfortable, logical environment in which to shop. Here are just a few common problems we often encounter in-store…
By looking at customers externally rather than asking their opinion in a survey, you can see in real time the issues they have in-store. Direct survey answers are often skewed by opinion whereas shoppers’ physical reactions are unbiased. In addition, most shopping is carried out by utilising short-term memory, meaning that customers quickly forget issues that they have encountered during their shopping process. Remote viewing your shoppers can help you to decode shopper behaviour.
Shopping research has shown that the speed of the music can be key to increasing or decreasing the speed at which your customers move.
Stores in which slower, calmer music is played allow shoppers the time to browse, adding impulse purchases to their trolley. Faster music causes them to rush, feel stressed and, if they can’t find an item, abandon it rather than searching.
Another reason your customers might be rushing is the temperature in-store. It can be hard to fully regulate temperature in mid-summer and mid-winter and often stores go too far one way or the other. Are customers rushing for the exit because they are too cold? Or getting frustrated and irritable because they are too hot?
The coldest place in-store should be the freezer aisle. If the freezer aisle is warm, even if the freezers are well-insulated, customers will assume that the food within has spoiled.
If your customers are frequently ignoring aisles, first you should study the way in which they ignore the aisle. Do they walk right past it or walk through it to reach somewhere else?
Some categories of shopper may ignore certain aisles. For example, a committed vegetarian is unlikely to spend time in the pork, beef and lamb aisle. It is still worth considering if there are other reasons aisles are being skipped.
Are your aisles clearly labelled? Shoppers will find it harder to navigate around a store that is poorly labelled. If they are clearly searching for a product but not entering many aisles, it may be that that product is missing from the aisle labels.
Are the display gondolas on the end of the aisle both relevant and appealing? A gondola for coffee on the crisps aisle, for example, may remind a shopper that they need coffee, steering them away from crisps to hot beverages.
One tip to persuade customers into an aisle they wouldn’t normally visit, even if the products within are relevant to them, is to combine that aisle with a staple. If few people go into the health food aisle, combining it with the aisle containing pasta and rice could cause more footfall. This would increase the number of shoppers seeing and deciding to buy the products on display. Moving products from one aisle to another can confuse and frustrate customers, so the change should be made clear. Pairings should also be carefully considered. Stocking baby clothes in the same aisle as tinned food may increase footfall but is likely to only confuse customers.
If your customers spend a lot of time looking for products — not browsing, but unable to find specific items on their list — you may need to rethink your shop layout.
The first element to consider is in-store categorisation. Are there products missing from certain categories that are present elsewhere? (e.g. sugar missing from the ‘baking’ category and located in ‘jams, spreads and condiments’). It is sometimes worth rethinking categories if a lot of customers are searching for an item and not finding it.
Customers are often embarrassed to ask for help if they cannot find a product. Rather than asking a member of staff for help, many shoppers will give up and abandon the product altogether. In the future, they will then assume that your store doesn’t carry the product at all.
It is also worth considering customer demographics for products when you are shelving them. The ideal place to stock a product is level with or in the area just below the eyeline. As the average British man is 5’9 and the average British woman is 5’3, these areas of ‘best sight’ are the key areas to keep items you want to promote. Putting the ‘value’ range products far lower on the shelves allows the prime space to be reserved for the products you want to promote.
By paying more attention to the way customers behave in-store and not just what they say, you can improve customer satisfaction, leading to increased customer spend and a higher rate of impulse buys.
Shoppers can be influenced, positively and negatively, by many aspects in-store. Colour is one element that can have a surprising effect on a shopper, with the ability to make products seem better value, higher quality — or not worth the price.
While shoppers have clear, fairly uniform reactions to many colours and so choosing the colours you use in-store can be a balancing act. A supermarket needs to look affordable, but the same colour scheme would look out of place in a high-end clothing store.
Our natural reactions to many colours stem from evolution. Primary colours often act as an early warning system for poisonous plants and venomous animals, warning others to stay away. This is why many of the colour combinations our eyes are naturally drawn to are reflected in nature — the black and yellow of a wasp or the red and white of a snake.
When we see these colours now, our eye is initially drawn to them in case they are a threat. Once we have determined that it isn’t, we have already seen the item — or the product label.
We have other, gentler reactions to other colours, such as finding sky blue soothing, or green calming. Gentler reactions mean that these colours can be good atmospherically, or on products where the label doesn’t need to stand out, such as high-end stores. However, gentler colours are less ideal in situations where the label is key such as in discount sales.
Your in-store colour scheme says a lot about you and your company; it demonstrates how you want to be seen and how others should consider you. Different colour schemes and the use of different textures will have different atmospheric effects and no scheme will work universally.
For example, in an expensive suit shop, one theme may be dark browns and greens — with wood panelling to give an impression of history and class. This gives a traditional feel to the suits. A less traditional high-end suit store might rely more on brushed steel — with perspex and white surfaces — giving an impression of something new and exciting. Buying a high-end suit is an experience within itself and the surroundings reflect this.
Neither of these themes would work in another common retail situation — the supermarket. A supermarket with wood panelling and dark carpets is more likely to look old and claustrophobic, giving the impression that the food will be old, traditional, and potentially stale. The second scheme would work better in a supermarket but may still make customers uneasy. Pure white, while moderately easy to maintain in a small store, is hard to maintain in a large shop with high footfall.
Product labelling is an area that can make a big difference in the perceived value of your products. Much like in-store decor, labelling determines what your products are worth and how good value shoppers perceive them to be.
Red, as well as being a “danger” colour, will make things seem more exciting, interesting and urgent. Yellow, while still striking, is a friendlier and cheaper colour. Black, by contrast, makes things seem classier and higher-value.
The size of the label also determines the value of the product — customers will perceive a product with a larger label to be better value than an identical product with a smaller label.
Fonts are also key to how a brand is perceived — they can determine whether a store is seem as modern or traditional, budget or upmarket. Handwriting-style font on labels can make stores seem smaller, more local, and friendlier, gaining goodwill from shoppers.
Many shoppers take their ideal of the “value” of a product from their first impression of the label rather than the label’s actual price. Many shoppers need reading glasses but won’t always have their reading glasses with them, meaning that some prices are guesses — especially if the currency symbol on the label is far smaller than the numbers.
Many shoppers also don’t have the headspace to do the maths of special offers while they are in the supermarket — working out whether £5 for 6 or 85p each is a good deal or a bad deal isn’t easy to do in the spur of the moment.
While shoppers might feel that they decide how they perceive a product, utilising colouring in your store can give customers a new perspective on products.