We have become seduced by shopping over the last 20 years, since the introduction of Sunday trading, the proliferation of shopping malls and the rise of mobile-based internet sites. However, our acquisitions are no accident and a multi-billion pound industry has developed to take advantage of our love of shiny, new things. We take a look at what's behind the science of shopping and why resistance is futile!
Whether you're in a supermarket or a department store, nothing is left to chance when it comes to making a sale. From the routes we take around the store to the very flooring used, it's all planned in minute detail, with the primary aim of making you spend your hard-earned money. Shopping consultants are full of good ideas and cunning strategies to influence your mind, beguile your senses and lull you into making purchases. It's the dark art of retail behaviour analysis.
Recently a high-tech laboratory was opened in the south of England. Its sole purpose is to analyse supermarket shopper behaviour in order to understand further why and how they make decisions and what influences their choices. It's done through the use of sophisticated facial and skin biometric tools which monitor the subconscious reactions and emotional responses of shoppers to different products. Science fiction? No, cold, hard fact.
Shopping Seduction Secrets
• Want/Need – as a child how many of you were told that there is a difference between what you want and what you need? Retailers are blurring this line and creating emotional responses to their products which we are under pressure to satisfy. New York-based journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote an extremely interesting article based on his meeting with retail guru Paco Underhill which explains further about instilling retail desire.
• Ambiance – the lighting, colour, smell and sound of a store can all be used to seduce us into spending more time in a shop and increase the likelihood that we'll make a purchase. Supermarkets use warm lights in the bread section and cool lights in the meat section to enhance the look of the products. In up-market off-licences, classical music is often played – it actually encourages people to spend more money per bottle than other types of music. And if for example you're shopping at a premium Mercedes retailer for second hand cars the aroma of fresh coffee will impart an air of exclusivity and sophistication which can influence your buying decision.
• Customer service – is the customer always right? Even if we're not, we're encouraged to feel like we are. Retail staff are at the front edge of their organisation and are the first representatives we're likely to encounter. If their attitude or behaviour isn't what we expect, our image of the company can be badly tarnished. That's why so many stores insist on rigorous 'customer relation' training, to make us feel special.
• Branding – without realising it, we are all attached to brands. They instil subconscious emotions in us which can stem from childhood and leave powerful attachments.
There's no doubt that we're a society obsessed with shopping. Whether we do it out of necessity or for fun, a little background information will help you understand that the decisions you think you're making for yourself are not necessarily so.