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Understanding shopper behaviour

Understanding shopper behaviour

By Head of Research and Consultancy for Bezier, Helen Davies

At the heart of retail marketing is the understanding of shopper behaviour, how people think, how they feel and how they act at any given time in any given situation – emotional branding, if you like.

This may seem to be an overwhelming subject to tackle, and one that has infinite permutations, but if you can grasp how your shoppers act and what influences them.

These include sensory effects such as colour and smells, priorities at different times of day or even external factors that affect the choices people make, you are a step closer to understanding how to influence shoppers by your in-store marketing.

At bezier, we use a model called ‘Jane Brown’. An average working woman (who account for 80 per cent of retail spend), we use Jane to show her various shopping modes depending on shopping occasions and ‘mission’.

Modes include ‘fraught and functional’, which relates to the weekly, possibly child hampered, grocery shop when Jane just wants to get in and out with what she needs. 

Understanding this pattern can help with the development, for example, of clear navigational signage, clear category management and clear labelling to develop loyalty and ensure Jane has the smoothest shop possible.

Another very different mode is ‘me me me’ mode, in which Jane requires something completely different from the retail environment.

In this shopping mode, Jane is out on her own, shopping for herself, looking for a luxury item or treat. In this situation, she wants to be inspired and drawn in to her environment, so more complex messages, imagery and layouts can be used.

The beauty of using Jane as a shopper model is that she can be bestowed with different characteristics, acting in certain situations, and by thinking about her as a person, it becomes easier to see how important the retail environment is.

We are developing other models very much along the same lines to explain behaviour in more specific markets such as youth, the grey market and ‘metrosexual’ males.

Along with helping clients understand shopper behaviour, we have recently completed several projects working with major retail organisations to audit their retail space – for example how many gondola ends there are, the size of the foyer, or how much wall and floor space there actually is. 

This valuable service has numerous benefits: making sure materials are fit for purpose, ensuring that compliance issues with POP are reduced, saving money, and enabling large organisations to communicate on a store by store basis.

Both of these important issues, shopper behaviour and fully understanding your retail space, help greatly with that key measurement at the heart of marketing plans – the return on investment.

Demand for ROI is growing, and with increased pressure to justify expense, more detailed information and consumer insight just gives more power to your elbow. In-store marketing has an ever-growing part to play in consumer experience, make sure yours is as effective as it can be.

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