I would NEVER tell shoppers to buy something they are not already predisposed to buy. Way too much retailing is really desperate hectoring of shoppers, hoping they will buy something more. Suppliers have literally millions of items they would like to sell. But as we noted, shoppers have a massive filter in place to ignore the vast majority of what is in the store. It’s a matter of shopper-survival.
How do you know what they want to buy? How about checking what they are already buying? I’m not talking about loyalty cards and one-on-one merchandising, but selling to the crowd. Just as the U-turn is a good representation of “the crowd,” so “the crowd” quietly announces exactly what they want to buy in each store. How so? Check the transaction log, listing all the individual shoppers, and their individual purchases, item by item sales per shopper, every day, week or quarter. There really are only a few hundred, of the tens of thousands of items, which are actually making an outsize contribution to store sales. That’s because those few hundred items are what the shoppers are telling you, “This is the stuff we mostly want to buy.”
SO . . . How about telling “the crowd,” this is the stuff YOU probably want to buy? This is my conception of “social marketing,” and it works very well. Let’s face it, no matter the class of merchandise (automobiles or toothpaste,) shoppers are reassured and comforted to know that they are buying the top selling item. After all, there is something to “The Wisdom of Crowds,” (James Surowiecki.) When millions of people, or all the shoppers in your store, choose a particular item far more often than all other items, it is probably the best choice for me and you, too. In each category, subcategory or brand, one item and only one item is the winner – and that is the only item (or a few) you need to tell the crowd of shoppers to buy. It doesn’t mean that you eliminate all or any of the others. All those others are very attractive at getting shoppers into the store (and some people really, really want something other than the winner.)
But retailers all over the world are cutting their own throats by simply refusing to help the average shopper just get their stuff and get the heck out of here. Stop playing games!!! Tell them which ones are the winners NOW, and start reaping additional sales and profits NOW! End the “treasure hunt” as a justification for what is really substandard retailing, even if it is received wisdom and practice by most of your competitors.
About the Author
Dr. Herb Sorensen is global scientific director of shopper insights at TNS Sorensen.Since the late 1970s his market research has focused on shoppers at their points of purchase. TNS Sorensen, the in-store research company®, captures shopper behaviour, motivations and perceptions at the point of purchase.
Dr. Herb Sorensen,