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Ethan Decker
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Wow. Nielsen recently compared their survey data with actual usage data to measure quarterly video viewing on phones & tablets. According to the survey data, people watched 5 hours 23 minutes of video in Q4 2013. According to the Electronic Mobile Measurement tool (which measures actual mobile usage), people watched 1 hour 23 minutes. That's right, survey data overstates this by something like 500%. Two quick lessons emerge: 1. People are clearly overstating how much video they're watching on their phones & tablets. So adjust down with numbers you see. 2. We should, as always, be very cautious about relying on self-reported survey data for measuring people's behavior.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at Shopper Culture
I love these inconsistencies too; they shed light on the stories we tell ourselves and the limitations of our self-awareness. Yes, just like with hypnosis or skin cream, 'actual results may vary' depending on a dozen other variables. The key point is, you often don't know what works until you try.
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If you offer a 25% discount on toilet paper, you would expect to get a bump in sales. But aside from offering a bigger discount, how could you do better? The obvious process is to ask shoppers directly what would increase their purchase intent. So we did. In an online survey of 4,500 people, we found that 3 out of 4 shoppers ranked a 25% discount as the #1 most persuasive tactic at shelf. Other tactics that leveraged psychological principles didn't test nearly as well in a direct survey of purchase intent. (We didn't label the types of tactics, here in brackets, during the research.) We asked directly... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at Shopper Culture
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Based on purchase data, doctors and pharmacists are 18% more likely to buy private-label versions of basic pain killers (like aspirin) than other shoppers. Nearly 90% of headache medicine bought by pharmacists is private label (vs. 71% for everyone else). Chefs behave similiarly. They're 13% more likely to buy private label flour and sugar than the general population. Why? The theory is that these professionals are less subject to the allure of a name brand when they know the active ingredients of the products are identical. Researchers at Chicago Booth have calculated that increasing shopper knowledge could reduce grocery and CPG spending by over a billion dollars. And... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2014 at Shopper Culture
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Since nearly 80% of fans don't start planning or shopping for The Big Game until the last week (according to a recent Marketing Arm study), there's still plenty of time to for brands and retailers to connect with party hosts and guests and influence their shopping. While Boomers are still very much into watching the Big Game, Gen Xers and Millennials increasingly see it as an excuse for a good party and a backdrop to socializing. (As we reported in our Super Bowl issue of the Checkout.) And as they prep for it, they increasingly look for inspiration and ideas. And Millennials do so much more than older... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2014 at Shopper Culture
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People instinctively and universally believe that high-quality products are higher priced. But the first signal of quality is the quality of the packaging itself. Walmart's no-frills packaging for its Great Value brand clearly says "low price". But they've recently started using packaging that mirrors the conventions of category leaders. Shoppers can't help but believe the product is of better quality in this nicer package. The question is, will they also believe that the price has gone up? Walgreens is similarly exploring the semiotics of value: their version of the cheddar snack cracker is 'generic-enough' but tries to add a bit of design flair. And Aldi fills the store... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2014 at Shopper Culture
And a partridge in a pear tree! That's a heck of a year. Here's to more dialogue in 2014.
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A while ago, we recounted the story of how a simple divider in a shopping cart can radically change shopping behavior. In fact, the little sign that said, "place produce here, all other products there" doubled fresh produce purchases during the experiment. Additional secondary research by Collin Payne and Mihai Niculescu found that this was massively more effective than other produce marketing methods (shelf labeling, advertising, coupons, etc.), which often only increased sales a couple percentage points. But we began to wonder if such a persuasive marketing method would ever survive the standby of shopper research: the direct response survey of purchase intent. So we fielded the question... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2013 at Shopper Culture
The ghost of David Ogilvy must be near: this feels perfectly ripe for an A/B split test. (http://sixrevisions.com/user-interface/an-introduction-to-website-split-testing/). My understanding is that Amazon (and other big online retailers) regularly use split testing to optimize messaging, page layout, etc. And I'd guess the winner will depend on the category, the brand, whether it's your brand or not, your level of confidence in the category, etc.
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There are lots of reasons not to rank products by popularity (the biggest being it's a pain to track and change assortments all the time). But the amazing ubiquity of this type of sort online suggests a big miss in brick & mortar. The profitability point is a good one, and often the way to maximize profits is not by making things easier or better for shoppers.
Toggle Commented May 9, 2012 on Why Not Top Ten Cheeses? at Shopper Culture
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Most aisles in the supermarket are sorted by brand (pasta in columns), size (jugs of vinegar on the bottom), or price (“top shelf”wine). Usually there’s only one shelf in the entire store that’s sorted by product popularity: books (like this shelf at King Soopers in Denver). Research by Duncan Watts, Robert Cialdini, and many others shows that humans instinctively look to what others do to help guide their choices. If it’s the top-selling shampoo, that’s “social proof” that it must be the best shampoo. In fact, nowadays, everyone is used to being able to “sort by popularity” or rating or price—online. But there’s only one retailer that’s taken... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2012 at Shopper Culture
Yes! "If it's moving off the shelves, it must be good." But even with a properly faced shelf, people use number of facings to gauge what product is the most popular. If Heinz has 20 facings and Hunt's has 4, it's a good guess that Heinz is more popular.
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Hotels.com now features an interesting ephemeral pop-up when you view a hotel listing. Not only do they show you the rating of the hotel and its overall popularity: they are now featuring the popularity of the hotel in the last day. Similarly, companies like MediaCart are building cart-mounted tablet systems that can put these kinds of messages at shoppers' fingertips. As you walk the aisles, the tablet could say, "The top-selling aspirin this week is Bayer Low Dose Baby Aspirin 200 ct." We are herd creatures, as Mark Earls has said for years. And one of the easiest ways to outsource our cognitive load—our decisions—is to simply do... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2012 at Shopper Culture
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One of the world's largest shopping cart manufacturers has found that "if the cart is double the size of our regular one, we buy an astounding 40 percent more than we usually do." Similar results are found with popcorn buckets at the movie theater: people finish the whole bucket, regardless of how huge the bucket might be. And when asked, they claim that the size of the bucket has no influence on how much they eat. Of course not! We eat when we're hungry and stop when we're full, right? So many things influence shoppers subconsciously. And they're incredibly hard to study in a survey: no one would... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2012 at Shopper Culture
Lovely observations. Where manpower is abundant and affortable, this makes massive sense. Where technology actually works, that can be the solution. And a lot of it comes down to infrastructure. Los Angeles, for instance, may never have a great home delivery solution because it's over 500 square miles and everyone drives. Mumbai is around 175 sq mi and pedestrians and bikes are abundant.
Toggle Commented Nov 17, 2011 on Home Delivery - The Mumbai Way at Shopper Culture
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In August, Tesco pioneered the use of subway platforms as virtual stores in Seoul (partly because they ran out of real estate for new stores). Chinese online supermarket Yihodian.com then installed walls in 15 subway stations in Shanghai. P&G launched a similar system in Prague with Mall.cz, the Czech Republic's largest e-tailer. Now Sears is launching holiday toy walls in airports, movie theaters, and bus stations in the US. One implication is that any 2D surface (outdoor, wild posting, ambient, print) can become a storefront. There's a new choice in these spaces: advertise or merchandise? But these programs also reveal something about how humans work. Why doesn't Tesco... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2011 at Shopper Culture
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The number one answer is they aren't even aware of it. Many cool promotions with big prizes end up with just a few hundred participants, even with millions spent on promoting the promotion. This is a terrible ROI. One cure is to do one thing and stick to it. Year after year. Then awareness isn't a problem. And 'news' comes from updating the promotion or kicking it off again. It's like compound interest. Case in point: McDonald's Monopoly is a "stodgy" 24 years old. It's been played by over a hundred million people in over 10 countries. And it's become a tradition. Traditions, you might recall, are pretty... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2011 at Shopper Culture
Good points, Ian. Indeed, design is more than being pretty. And great design is about solving problems. Perhaps I should've said illustration instead, or graphic design. I'm actually a big fan of those "ugly" full-page commemorative-coin US-Mint ads in National Geographic. I figure they're probably very effective, in part because they're "ugly": they're designed perfectly for their audience.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2011 on When Design is Ubiquitous at Shopper Culture
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This makes me think of this great essay: http://ifindkarma.posterous.com/pandas-and-lobsters-why-google-cannot-build-s Social networks are about being absorbed in other peoples' lives. I wonder, is shopping (for many people) more utilitarian or more entertainment? Probably a bit of each.
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Nice follow-up, Erin. Even with e-commerce, the receipt in the package is usually a buzz kill. Now, not everything needs to be 'on brand' and designed and delightful, but sheesh, you'd think more retailers would add a bit more love to their last shopper contact.
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2010 on Receipt Love at Shopper Culture
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From a business standpoint, they "should" do whatever they can to increase their leverage over suppliers, consumers, energy providers, whomever. They're already generating their own power (I think they're the biggest solar power producer in the US). And they might be right that they can do it more efficiently--their ops skills are their chief strength. From a cultural or moral standpoint, I'm not a big fan of their cutthroat business practices, but I don't know all the consequences of this move.
Toggle Commented Jun 15, 2010 on The Long Arm of Walmart at Shopper Culture
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It's hard enough to have a recognizable silhouette. But what do you do when you find that your iconic shape just isn't that functional? Heinz had this experience when it redesigned its iconic bottle in 2002: It's eminently functional: no drips, no liquid pouring out first, easy to grip, shatter-proof, holds more product, stacks face-out, fits the fridge door, etc. But did the designers include "unique" or "iconic" as criteria? Did they want to evoke the timeless curves of a cello? (They could have.) Given that Hunt's, A&P's, and other brands looks almost the same, probably not. (Interestingly, Heinz's new packets echo the new bottles). How many cues... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2010 at Shopper Culture
I love the clear need: "I just threw out my fancy lotion!" Two other great examples serving obvious-in-hindsight needs: Rollasole: cheap ballet flats sold around night clubs for women who want to take off their heels. (http://www.rollasole.com) And Quiksilver selling limited edition boardshorts and bikinis poolside at The Standard hotels. (http://blog.quiksilver.com/?p=5295)
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While this science is in its infancy, I'm excited to see where it leads. Some things will probably turn out to be cultural (what the color gold symbolizes to a group). Some will be evolutionary (a box covered with spider photos will catch people's attention). And other things will turn out to be biological (older people can't distinguish gold from yellow as their corneas discolor). How does our visual field impact our ability to shop an aisle? Are angles and curves processed differently in the brain? How about colors vs grayscale? At some level it's photons and molecules.
Toggle Commented Jun 2, 2010 on Chicken Soup for the Brain at Shopper Culture
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Where along a shopper's path should a kiosk like this one go? Observational research shows that shoppers change their behaviors during a single shopping trip in some interesting ways: 1. As people spend more time in the store, they become more purposeful, less likely to explore, and more likely to grab their familiar products. 2. After getting "virtue" categories (essentials), shoppers are more likely to head over to locations that carry "vice" categories (indulgences). So even in a single trip type or purchase occasion, shoppers can go through several mindsets. (These results are from analysis of PathTracker data of 1,200 completed shopping trips in supermarkets in the Eastern... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2010 at Shopper Culture