Is the Secret of Grocery Sales Hidden in the Past?

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Is the Secret of Grocery Sales Hidden in the Past?

18505-Selling-In-SupermarketsWhere’s the thrill, the sizzle? Where has the fun and excitement of grocery shopping gone? People who have been grocery shopping for a while may be wondering what has happened, are they just discovering that grocery shopping has become boring, or has the experience changed?

The truth is that the glitz and glamour of the supermarket is gone, and the focus is now primarily on price and price wars.

I love shops and shopping, my first ‘real’ job was stacking shelves in my local supermarket at the age of 15 and ever since then I have I have been fascinated and passionate about the world of retail. Those glorious days filling the shelves with tins of beans back in ’96 mean that supermarkets will always be my first love, which is why it frustrates me so much that prices are paramount, and they no longer use psychology to entice shoppers.

In the 90s, using psychology in-store was a great way to motivate people. Stores would make clever changes such as changing the width of the aisles in such a way that it made shoppers slow down in areas where more profitable items were displayed, and speed up in low margin areas. Other psychological elements such as lighting and music were used to influence the shopper’s mood. There was something seductive about shopping in those days. Now supermarkets have a warehouse motif.

I have been working in retail for 20 years and I know consumer and shopper behaviour inside out. Over the years, I have played a pivotal part in projects that deliberately focused on changing shopping behaviour and decision-making. As the newest member of the team at SBXL, I am excited to be part of a company who have made great strides in the industry and worked alongside some truly inspirational companies.

SBXL have made numerous such undertakings, such as the time we designed an in-store display that was created using information gained from looking into how women shop for cosmetics. The display went on to increase home furnishings sales by 350%. A further example is when we re-engineered packaging to allow men to touch the products inside – and increased sales in excess of 20%.

Ironically, the more we have learned about the intricacies of the human mind over the last 20 years, the less stores have used that insight to their psychological advantage. Instead, stores have severed their connection with shoppers, shopping and consumption.

5 proven psychological methods that still work in-store…

Amid the data and insight that has become so easy to collect, there is a hidden world of wisdom in the current world of retail. In warehouse-like stores where price is the main motivator, and there is no seductive lighting or music, brands and retailers have a golden opportunity to turn to some old and powerful methods of appealing to shoppers.

Emotions: It’s human nature – we use reason to justify and emotions to decide. We want what our heart tells us we want, but how does this work out in the world of retail? Easy – all the information in the world cannot hold a candle to the emotional image of products being used and consumed. Understanding the emotional appeal to shoppers will increase sales way more than spending time, money and effort on price and promotion. At SBXL, we have engineered sales increases of up to 150% using the power of shoppers’ emotions.

Occasions: It’s not what shoppers buy, but rather what they buy it for. If you give shoppers the idea of what a product can be used for, the items almost sell themselves. Any occasion can conjure items that will make an event more special – if you see a display of barbeque charcoal then you may buy burgers. See a secondary display of Mother’s Day cards and you buy flowers and chocolates.

Adjacencies: Occasions are easily created with adjacencies. If all of the combining products that create an occasion are displayed together, the shopper will buy the occasion rather than individual items. A DVD, bottle of wine and some chocolates and snacks? That right there is a ‘date night in’ occasion.

Branded displays: People want to be surprised, and they love it when a duty-laden shopping trip holds something new and exciting for them. Never mind a promotional ticket on a shelf full of cream, think about Aldi’s ‘treasure hunters’ paradise, that central aisle filled with different products. Surprise your shoppers – give them something different to look at.

Plus one merchandising: Place complementary products together to prompt shoppers who are buying one item to buy one more – plus one (think biscuits and crackers placed next to special cheeses). The secret here is to make the ‘plus one’ items stand out, and visual differentiation is the way to make this work. Place special cheeses in a unique display, with ‘treat’ biscuits specially placed. Meal deals are an excellent example of a successful ‘plus one’ strategy: several items that cost less when bought together than when bought individually.

By going back to the basics of psychological shopping, we can counteract the missing emotional cues in big supermarkets, although implementing said emotional cues is not easy in the supermarket arena.

Communicating occasions does sell, but it means that there has to be communication in the first place and that may not fit into the corporate model. Creative adjacencies can in turn sell occasions – but they need space that not everyone is willing to yield. Branded displays snap shoppers out of their shopping coma but most stores have a clear floor policy and while plus one merchandising can increase average sales values with visual differentiation – it’s just not part of the supermarket world.

When I first started out in retail, this used to be the way it was, when stores were focused on sales rather than the buying function, but interestingly the future of bricks and mortar grocery sales may be in the past. ‘Shoppology: The Science of Supermarket Shopping’ provides practical advice to retailers and brands on the instincts, emotions, processes, and needs that have always impacted and still impact the shopper’s decision making. My name is Andy Bromley, and I am the new Sales and Operations Director at SBXL. If you would like to find out more, call me on 07899 727 273 or get in touch through our website.