Retailers or Shoppers: Who’s Smarter?
There are all sorts of retail strategies designed to get shoppers to buy more: the colorful cereal boxes on the bottom shelf so that kids can grab and clamor; the imagery-evoking scent pumped into the air at the high-end clothing boutique to entice shoppers to stay longer; the sleek laptops left open at exactly 70 degrees, forcing a shopper to adjust the screen to an ideal viewing angle – and touch the machine.
Retail marketers, using customer behavior-driven store design, the psychology of shopping, principles of sensory marketing and a deep understanding of human nature know all about manipulating the shopper. But many shoppers are now wise to the game. A Google search of “how retailers trick you to buy more” (harsh, I know) generates 115 million results.
So they’re on to us? Absolutely. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not.
Consumers have changed, and so has the act of shopping. Today’s opinionated, wired, informed shopper demands much more than a great product at a fair price. She seeks fulfillment, entertainment, validation and connection.
Retailers must tap into that psychology in order to evolve and deliver. It is critically important to embrace the new roles of friend, resource and advisor; to serve as a source of engagement and personal expression; to create a community the shopper wants to be a part of.
That’s where all that shopper data comes in. But instead of looking for weaknesses to exploit, look for ways to connect and drive a conversation. Stop trying to outthink her and focus on building a sincere relationship with her.
Collecting information about shopper behavior and psychology isn’t evil. Data will always be critical to planning and building marketing programs. But don’t manipulate. Facilitate.
Devise ways to use data to improve customer satisfaction. Sell in a lifestyle context. Use your knowledge about your shopper to demonstrate and to guide. Don’t force her down an aisle booby-trapped with things she can’t resist. Curate for her. Engage with her. Talk to her. And listen to her.
Basically, just be authentic and transparent. And this doesn’t mean don’t sell; it’s all about moving product. It does mean, however, that marketers have a mandate to rethink the art and science of retail sales. We can no longer assume we are smarter than our shopper.