BrainTrust Query: In-Store vs. Out-of-Store Behavior
Manufacturers study their consumers, focusing primarily on behavior outside retail outlets. Retailers focus on the behaviors of shoppers in stores. Often this research is a disconnect.
Parker Hurlburt, vice president, research at Acosta Sales & Marketing, reported results of some research on pre-store and in-store behavior at the recent IIR Shopper Insights in Action 2011 conference in Chicago:
- Eighty-four percent prepare a list before shopping, except for quick trips for which lists are not prepared;
- Seventy-seven percent of younger people or Millennials prepare a list;
- Eighty-four percent of shoppers are influenced by circulars from the stores.
How does what consumers do before their store visit influence in-store activity?
Consumers most often write a product or category on their list and have the brand in their head. If a product or category from an aisle is not on the list, consumers do not go down the aisle. Mr. Hurlburt suggested that maybe the store circular needs to include an item from every aisle to attract consumers’ attention when they are preparing their lists.
What about signage in the store? Which signs do consumers see?
Tom McCann, director, retail usability research for Staples, Inc., reported on a study to determine how consumers engage with promotional signage. A group of consumers answered pre-study questions, wore tracking glasses while shopping, and responded to questions after shopping.
On average, consumers take 17 seconds to go from their car to the store and spend about two seconds looking at the signage outside the store. Consumers are watching traffic, navigating around outside barriers, and taking care to not run into other consumers.
Once inside the store, shoppers go to the aisle of interest and run around to other aisles. When purchases are complete, the shoppers relax and meander on their way to the checkout line. When shoppers fix their gaze on a sign, it lasts for less than a second. The mind processes about five words a second. The signs receiving less than a second of attention at Staples were the external signs in the store window, those outside the sight line and free-standing signs.
Discussion Questions: What areas of behavior are most important to study in-store and out-of-store for consumers? Where do you think the greatest misconceptions lie in the way retailers plan their promotional materials?