Consumer Behavior and Science

Consumer Behavior

The Science Behind Shopping

a. Shopping activities. Until the proliferation of the Internet shopping depended on physical stores being located near potential shoppers. Now consumers are purchasing product from around the globe and having it shipped right to their door via the Internet. Consumers can also purchase in other non-traditional ways such as vending machines and the use of their Smartphones to make a purchase from anywhere. There are usually one of four reasons why consumers go to a store (or visit a shopping website):

i. Which direction do customers turn when they enter the store?

ii. Where are the sale items located?

iii. How long do customers linger in a store/given area?

iv. Which areas of the store are the most/least crowded?

v. What impediments to shopping are there?

vi. How long are lines?

d. Theory of the Butt Brush

i. During an early study of Bloomingdales in New York City, by Paco Underhill (author of The Science of Shopping) he put a camera in one of the main entrances of the store hoping to study how shoppers negotiated the doorway during its busiest time. Instead, they noticed that shoppers – especially women – don’t like being brushed from behind. They noticed this by looking at the tie rack that was located right near the doorway they were studying. People would go to the rack and browse through the ties that were on display. Then they would be bumped by people heading in and out of the store. After a few bumps the shopper would leave the rack. Paco told this to his client and his client noted that the sales of the ties were lower than usual. They moved the tie rack and sales went up quickly and substantially.

b. Four Types of Shopping Activities

i. Acquisitional Shopping—Customers go to the store intending to make purchases and acquire product or services.

ii. Epistemic Shopping—Customers shop to obtain information about the products they intend to purchase in the near future.

iii. Experiential Shopping—Recreational activities to satisfy the customer’s need for fun and relaxation. Sometimes people shop just for the experience or due to boredom.

iv. Impulsive Shopping—Spontaneous shopping that leads to a need for self-fulfillment. Consumers often purchase things without thinking and don’t consider the consequences.

c. Anthropology (behavioral science) has devoted a branch to the study of modern shoppers…. It studies shoppers interacting with retail environments (and not only stores – this includes banks and restaurants), so this means they study every rack, counter, display, entrance, exit, cashier line, parking lot… every nook and cranny that you could imagine of a retail environment. Research in the study of shopping is not high-tech. The most important research tool is a person called a tracker. A tracker is a field researcher of the shoppers. Trackers make their way through stores following every little move a shopper makes. They follow a shopper around inconspicuously and record virtually everything the shopper does – such as how many ties they pick up or how many towels they may touch. The trackers notice things about the retail environment that a normal employee wouldn’t notice. They apply extreme attention to a specific area and then analyze what could make that retail space better for the shopper and more profitable for the retailer. Here are some of the things a tracker will analyze: