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Ethan Decker
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eBay is a platform for buying and selling goods, not services. eBay doesn't explicitly list the seller's gender. eBay sells both used and new products. eBay has seller ratings that should give buyers objective ways to choose sellers. And yet somehow, products sold by women earn 80 cents on the dollar compared to identical products sold by men. What is going on? A recent analysis of over 600,000 transactions on eBay from 2009 to 2012 finds that, controlling for everything else, buyers bid less and pay less for products sold by women, even though the gender of the seller isn't listed. Female buyers do it too. The bias... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2016 at Shopper Culture
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Last Fall, Danny Meyer's high-end NYC restaurant The Modern eliminated tipping entirely for servers, coat checks, and anyone else. This "hospitality included" (or HI) system takes the historical average tip revenue and rolls that into menu prices. A key reason was to make compensation more fair between servers — who usually enjoy all the tip revenue — and other restaurant staff like chefs, who usually get paid far less for equally-demanding work. Early feedback was positive, and Meyer just rolled out HI to a second restaurant, Maialino. Other restaurants across the country are experimenting with HI too. One Brooklyn group even made a logo to hang in restaurant... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2016 at Shopper Culture
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Walking through an Aldi last week, I saw two oddly-familiar products. You'd be forgiven if, at first glance, you also thought these were name brands. These are, in fact, Aldi products. They use the Millville brand name for their cereals and Savoritz for their crackers. And these are just two of the many brands Aldi has created, each one playing on the familiar cues of each category. Copycat brands have long played on the equities of market leaders, and they walk a fine line between reference and infringement. Aldi could indeed be in danger of creating confusion in the market, as they carry a small number of national... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Shopper Culture
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Photo Source: The Integer Group Zero. That's how many homes in the US buy exactly the same groceries as any other home. It's an amazing statistic that was uncovered in an analysis by Catalina Marketing of their massive POS shopper database. 32 million shoppers were included in the analysis, each of which shopped at least once a month over the year. The 10,000 stores in the study had on average about 35,000 UPCs to choose from. Each shopper bought on average 260 UPCs. And every single home had a unique combination of products over the course of the year. This certainly lends credence to the notion that shopper... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Shopper Culture
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What do you have in common with an Australian Peacock Spider? How is Volkswagen like a Bull Snake? And how do you pick the right eggs at the grocery store? Ethan Decker, PhD, VP of Insight & Strategy at Integer, recently spoke at TEDxSMU 2015 in Dallas, TX. As an ecologist in marketing, he connects the dots between the natural world and the human world, and finds some surprising insights about marketing and advertising. Watch Ethan's TED talk here. Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2015 at Shopper Culture
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Some would say advertising is inherently evil. Certainly it has a history of deception and snake oil salesmen. But it might not be as bad as one would think. In fact, it might even be natural. Ethan Decker, VP of Insight & Strategy at Integer, recently reflected on his past as an ecologist and the world of elk and orchids to see what he could learn about the world of advertising. Click here to read Ethan's article on Huffington Post. Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2015 at Shopper Culture
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Three years ago, Red Tomato Pizza made an ingenious little fridge magnet that let you order pizza with the click of a button, via a bluetooth connection to your smartphone. Now Amazon is getting into the game. Their new Dash Buttons let you order common household products (this time through your home Wi-Fi) with a single click. Our Group Director of Mobile, Ben Kennedy, weighs in on this service over at Digiday. "Will Dash transform the future of shopping?" Find out what he says in the article. Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2015 at Shopper Culture
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When Tumblr user swiked posted the photo of #thedress, she caught an innocent snapshot of a classic shopping dilemma: did I buy the right thing? Cecilia Bleasdale was asking for advice on what to wear to her daughter's wedding. She had no idea that the poor quality of the photo would set off a global debate about what color the dress really is (here's a good quality product shot). The original Tumblr post got 73 million views. At its peak it got 140,000 views per minute. Today billions of people can snap a photo of something and ask friends to weigh in on the purchase process. A Twitter... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2015 at Shopper Culture
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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