Efficiency in Learning

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Efficiency in Learning

In today’s fast paced retail environment, both retailers and brands try numerous techniques with which to get their message across to the shoppers. Listed below are three ways to engage with your customer, and make that final sale.

1. Embedding your message.

How to optimise in-store windows of opportunity.

Despite employing ad agencies and copywriters etc. the effectiveness of the communication medium is often ignored. Research carried out by Chandler and Sweller in 1991, identified that diagrams and images were processed 2.5 times quicker than text. This occurs because they can be processed holistically, whereas text has to be read and processed serially. They also discovered that when words have to be used, they work best if they are incorporated into diagrams. Perhaps it’s no surprise that shoppers who are each exposed to an average of 1,500 promotional messages per day, recall just 4 a mere 24 hours later.

  • The short-term working memory can only manage 7 (+/-2) pieces of information simultaneously
  • The long-term memory has a massive capacity, but is only as efficient as the memory card indexing system of its owner
  • Effective communication minimises the amount of new information to process using segments and sequences

In retail environments where the majority of shoppers are brand loyal repeat purchasers, it is necessary to interrupt their behaviour in order to create any influence. Often the influence will come days, weeks or months later (because habits have to be changed). For this reason, the purpose of the message should be considered in connection with a timescale as to when it is expected to influence.

For example…

As an often ignored communication medium, consider analysing the shopper journey and understanding where they are and aren’t receptive to communication. For example, in the forecourt scenario, shoppers’ moments of highest awareness are linked to the speed they were driving just before they arrived. In addition, whether they mentally slowed down by being stood at the pump filling their car with fuel. In a category where all the pack sizes were pretty much the same, the visual offer of an alternative was attractive – watch below:


2. Cognitive Load Theory

Which part of the shoppers mind do you need to communicate with?

No matter how clever the ad or how creative the message, the fact is that most of what shoppers see, they instantly filter and forget. A contributory reason for this is to do with cognitive load theory: The fact that the short-term working memory has a very small and limited capacity. Message effectiveness can be dramatically improved by imagining that shoppers had a short-term memory for each sense (visual, auditory, touch, taste and smell). So if shoppers are given a simple visual message and at the same time, a complimentary auditory message, then the effectiveness of the communication improves substantially. Here are four education-based guidelines to help avoid shoppers having extraneous cognitive load:

  • Divide message content between visual and auditory communication mediums
  • Focus the message reader on the key message and avoid any split attention onto less important aspects
  • Minimise any unnecessary content to the message – If it isn’t essential, lose it!
  • When creating messages that are intended to go beyond shoppers short-term memories, be sure to factor in how much time they can invest and so how much information they can take on board.

It is unlikely that many middle-aged shoppers will be able to absorb much in the average supermarket aisle. They will be shopping on autopilot and the majority will not have the glasses they need to read with on them (more than 60% according to our research).

For example…

A number of research studies have shown that when product information and price details are physically somewhat small, any brand that simply increases the font size receives a disproportionately high jump in percentage of physical product evaluations. The shopper in the clip below has to revert to putting on his glasses in order to be able to read the price.


3. Are you selling Apples or Pairs?

Shoppers shop and Consumers consume – they aren’t the same. 

No the title isn’t a typo, it is just aimed to draw attention to the fact that all too often, the retailer and brand doesn’t sell what the shopper wants to buy. The first reason for this is that there is confusion between shoppers and consumers and as a result the very different purchase and usage motives get falsely studied. This leads to confusing and even misleading decision hierarchies being obtained, analysed and then acted upon. For example, shoppers buying chocolate or alcoholic drinks are often actually purchasing mental state change. They don’t want finest Swiss this, or brewed with the purest of that. What they are seeking is confidence, significance, pride, or a host of other emotionally based drivers. Unfortunately too many categories in too many retail channels have become over commoditised making it harder for shoppers to identify the state change they want. When emotions have been targeted, the uplifts in sales and increases in category share speak for themselves:

  • 15% increase in sales by prompting shoppers as to why use such an item (not just spouting features)
  • 33% increase in share by effectively communicating an added value message in a particular convenience channel
  • 350% increase in sales by aligning the display in-store with how the product would be in the home

We confidently predict that almost any brand or retailer could increase sales, drive weight of purchase and gain share by starting from the point of how does the shopper emotionally perceive the uses of their products. In other words, what emotional state are they endeavouring to buy?

For example…

Cameras are a good example of a common mismatch between shopper and store – The store and/or brand promotes zoom capabilities, features, modes, etc. What the majority of ‘point and click’ shoppers want to do is capture memories… easily. In the video below, the shopper walks by the fixture with party things in hand and then decides that crisps would be good for the occasion too.

I’m Phillip Adcock, author of ‘Shoppology, The Science of Supermarket Shopping’, and Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd (SBXL) – a company that specialises in analysing shoppers and shopping for some of the leading brands and retailers in the world.

For more information, visit our website: sbxl.com