Change the rules of the game
There’s a thoughtful article by Knowledge@Wharton, titled “Not on the List? The Truth About Impulse Purchases” that puts a new spin on impulse purchases. While Paco Underhill described supermarkets “as places of high impulse buying… Fully 60% to 70% of purchases there were unplanned, grocery industry studies have shown us,” David R. Bell begs to differ. In his new research paper, Bell and his co-authors argue that the amount of unplanned buying is actually closer to 20%.
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Now, this brings up an important perspective. In Bell’s words, “the differences are based on who they are rather than what they’re exposed to.” I think there’s another layer in here. More than what they’re exposed to, its about “what they’re buying.”
We’ve seen that people buy different categories differently. The mindset that you’re in while buying atta or sugar, which is a habitual monthly purchase, is different from the mindset that you’re in when you’re buying let’s say toothpaste or soaps or deos (buy the category but flirt with brands in your repertoire). This is even different when you shop lets say, perfumes or expensive cosmetics.
Is anyone even thinking about how all these categories sit across from each other in a store and are interacted with differently by the same consumer/shopper?
While Underhill talks about the environment, Bell talks about the person-to-person variance than about the store environment itself. But what really connects the dots and brings it full circle is how people interact with categories and how people buy.
With new thought being infused in marketing, Bell asks an interesting question in his paper – “Can you really jack up unplanned buying with stimuli, when the greatest amount of variance is in people?”
Of course, ultimately what all companies want is more sales, but even as of today, conversion is given step-child treatment by marketers and agencies alike. Further vindicating that fact, look around, and what you see in today’s retail environment is nothing but more and more salience.
Haven’t we had enough of this messaging from mass media already?
It’s time to give credit where it’s due and respect shoppers and the shopping environment, rather than just paying lip service to conversion. There’s so much more opportunity that can be realized if we think a little differently, and not treat communications at retail as just an extension of mass media communications.
Learning more about the shopper from a holistic perspective will only further enable marketers to increase spontaneous purchasing of their products within the stores.
And that is what will make the cash register ring.