The Truth About Shoppers

There are plenty of statistics floating around about shopper behaviour. The truth is that many are outdated or simply incorrect. The figures are presented as the ‘real actions and opinions of shoppers’, however, the methodology of some of this research could be questioned. This is because the results are generally based on respondents rationalising and re-writing their behaviour after the event.

What would you say if asked about your shopping decisions in a survey?

What would you say if asked about your shopping decisions in a survey? Would your answers reflect what you think you did, or what you actually did? A lot of decisions made when supermarket shopping are subconscious, and this can be hard for a shopper to judge, or notice.

Playing it Safe

One frequently quoted statistic is that 7 out of 10 of all buying decisions are made at point of purchase. However, our own research shows that over two thirds of supermarket shoppers buy the same brand time after time, and just under half go for the same product they bought last time. Even items like confectionery, which have a high engagement level, are often ‘pre-chosen’ before a shopper enters a store. Shoppers know which brand and even which item they want to satisfy their craving before reaching the chocolate aisle.

Over two thirds of supermarket shoppers buy the same brand time after time, and just under half go for the same product they bought last time.

 

Drawn to Familiarity

For a lot of people, supermarket shopping is part of their routine (a chore perhaps) and as such less importance is placed on the ‘decision making process’. Instead, the shopping experience is more about finding and identifying the products usually purchased while screening out the rest. This is a subconscious process, as habitual, repetitive action involves and requires less thought or decision making.

This is aided by visual cues used to recognise a category and product. The average shopper will not generally ‘read’ signs, but use a cognitive map based on signpost patterns or markers created by the most familiar brands. This also occurs in promotional purchase behavior, like ‘buy one get one free’. Easily recognisable colours and styles draw responses from shoppers, before the details or mechanics of the promotion are fully understood.

Basing research on customer feedback alone is an inaccurate way of gathering data.

 

Observing Actions

Basing research on customer feedback alone is an inaccurate way of gathering data that can result in shoppers’ intuitive behaviour being missed or misinterpreted. Observing and recording actual behavior in real time, in the real buying context, gives a much truer reading. Once we understand the literal actions of a shopper, it is then possible to create ways to break habits and inertia. Brands that usually go unnoticed can be pushed to the forefront by using visual cues and fixtures can be optimised to meet the needs of the subconscious mind.

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