The second you walk through the door to a retail store, every sense is bombarded: Music is designed for the behaviour wanted, smells like the bakery may be used, even if there is no bread on sale, tastings may put you in the right shopping mood, products you touch increases the chance of purchase dramatically. In fact sight may be the least loyalty inducing sense, you have.
This is the fourth article of five this time focused on the Place part of the classic 4P marketing parameters – one of the areas, where Behavioural Marketing has been used substantially. You can read the previous articles here:
The alluring floor plan
From the smell of fresh bakery luring you in over the fruits placed at the entrance to prime you to think of everything in the store as fresh and forcing you to walk to the back past all the other products for milk to attacking you when you are at your weakest before the cashiers with candy, everything is organized to get you to buy more.
The size of the cart drives the size of your purchase and the speed bumps gets you to stay longer in the right places, while your eye movements and eventual buying decisions are tracked for further optimization of every aisle and shelve.
When you walk into Audi City London – possibly the most successful showroom ever – you will notice there is only a couple of cars as opposed to the hundreds – or even thousands of cars in large dealerships. Still Audi City London is the third best selling Audi dealer in the world. How is this possible? Well, Audi has mapped the customer journey anthropologically and realized exactly what is needed to make the purchase decision, when you enter a dealer – and trying an Audi is not one of them!
The likeable store personnel
We make snap judgments about most things and content often has low weight, while authoritativeness or approachability works. In a retail environment this basically means, that we tend to comply with requests from people we like, which in turn are driven by just three simple things:
- Appreciation. Think compliments with a healthy dose of individualization, subtlety and respect
- Similarity. The more similar we seem, the more I like you (And yes this may be the primary reason for the continued gender and racial inequality). Think mirroring body language, tone of voice and follow where the conversation leads
- Looks. Yeah, that is a difficult one to change. Think in uniforms or uniform dress codes
The tyranny of choice
As mentioned under product, we make 35,000 decisions in a day and obviously not all of them can involve complex decision making parameters and processes. You can wonder why, companies really think it makes sense to keep increasing complexity with brands, sub brands, categories, sub categories, flavors etc., driving up cost and making life difficult for their customers – We are not big fans of oversimplification, but here KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) may have a point.
But there are some interesting variances: In a study selling jams two different tests were made with two different goals: When 24 jams were presented for tasting, 60% of shoppers would come to look, but only 3% would buy. When only 6 jams were presented, only 40% would look, but 30% would buy. So if you are looking to generate interest, more products work. But if you wants sales, then less is more!
The positive wait
Waiting time is a drag and everyone hates it. But there are some very simple tricks to minimize the pain of waiting:
- Perceived progress. As long as it is clear, that the process has started and the progress is visible, then people can live with a lot. This is why people prefer driving a longer road at a faster speed, than risk sitting completely still. Make sure the path to the finish line is clear and there is some sort of marker, indicating progress.
- Reason for wait. The train service in Denmark has really picked this up: you get the automatic computerized announcement on top of the train driver on delays, changes and general information every few minutes, making it quite difficult to have a conversation, read or anything else – it can be taken too far, but you get the idea.
- Fairness. People have a strong feeling of fairness and will go to great lengths to ensure this is upheld. So if you want to avoid your customers fighting in the store, make sure that the room for cutting in or different line speeds are minimized.
- Filled vs empty time. Today everyone has a smartphone to keep them busy, but there is still an opportunity to provide service here, whether it is a cool drink on a hot day, using the time to sign up for the loyalty club or handling the purchase, while the customer is free to roam about.
- Value. As an example express lanes for few items or non browsing customers like men in a jewelry store can be a great way to both improve the experience for the targeted customers and allocate more time to the other customers.
The subscription trick
You have probably experienced this yourself or in someone you know: We somehow get ourselves into some sort of subscription maybe of a magazine and now clearly just want to discontinue it, but somehow we don’t. What is going on? Yes, some companies make it incredibly ease to sign up and just as incredibly difficult to sign out like my local gym, where you have to physically show up at the very place, you have decided to avoid.
But what is at work here, is our tendency to stick with status quo: Buying the same brands or products, maintaining our investments, electing incumbents to another term or staying in the same job. Besides the subscription trick, it also works, when companies add new features to their offering and raising the price, e.g. a travel agency adding a default insurance.