Ever since I read Paco Underhill’s book “Why We Shop: The Science of Shopping,” I understood that the act of shopping says a lot about human psychology and is one of the topics I have always been passionate about. More than 20 years ago, I taught my first course on “Consumer Behavior in Stores.” Today, more than ever, we have technologies at the service of neuromarketing, which is the application of neuroscience and cognitive science to marketing to evaluate advertising, tactics, packaging, and content more accurately and measure how customers react at a non-conscious level.
This topic is relevant because of the business opportunity it represents, considering that more than 90% of brands fail in the United States, in part because they fail to understand the market.
Considering that consumers spend a good percentage of their budgets on unplanned purchases in stores, it is a challenge for supermarket management to stimulate the act of shopping at the point of sale.
At the International Fresh Produce Association’s Global Produce and Floral Show, Dr. Aaron Reid from Sentiment Decision Science gave a talk on “Consumer Psychology.” He explained how technological sciences applied to behavior can measure human attention, emotions, and neural networks at the unconscious level.
One of these new techniques in the digital age is automated facial recognition, which through algorithms, can decode and measure a shopper’s emotions when faced with a commercial advertisement and predict their purchase intent in stores.
It is a tool that advertising agencies can use to carry out pre-testing studies to identify insights or brand communication messages and attributes in advertising pieces, as well as for post-testing studies to measure the results of images, awareness, and messages.
Sentiment Decision Science indicates that this technology could predict purchase behavior with greater accuracy by up to 47.2%.
Other types of research have also been developed to understand the relationship between people and the culinary experience through the critical role that emotions play in food choices, which they call “emotional eating.”
For example, people far from their country of origin buy products considered nostalgic in stores for the pleasure and happiness they generate, in addition to reconnecting with their typical flavors.
For other consumers, they become an emotional reward, which is a condition that predisposes them to pay more without questioning the price.
In recent years, more American consumers have been looking to experiment with new flavors. According to the Culinary Development Center, “Emerging global cuisines or exotic foods open up a new world of experiences because of the infinite variety of ingredients, forms, and flavors they offer.”
Imagine being able to measure the perception of how much shoppers are willing to pay for ethnic and nostalgic products. You could use applied techniques, such as Implicit Association Testing (IAT), used for stereotype research that measure the impact of non-conscious perceptions and emotions toward brands, packaging, advertising, and culinary concepts.
Another technology supporting research is the well-known “Eye Tracker” for eye tracking and measuring an eye’s gaze point or movement in relation to objects.
Some time ago, Professor Brian Wansink of the University of Illinois conducted a scientific experiment in a supermarket and did several product tests where they demonstrated that customers, when shopping, are in a “beta” or unconscious state in the store. The study also highlighted that the first thing shoppers see on a shelf is the shape and color, so the store’s image and organization are crucial to attracting their attention.
Finally, what is gaining momentum is the geolocation of shoppers within stores through mobile devices. It is used to understand shopping behavior within a supermarket, track their route, collect their data and learn about their shopping habits if it intersects with a loyalty program. Also, other location-based technologies outside the store can measure traffic and compare it with the competition.
All these solutions can help understand more about consumers, support companies to satisfy their customers, identify new business opportunities, and make marketing management more effective by connecting with the customer.
If you want to learn more about these new research solutions, Comercio Competitivo offers you its research services aimed at better understanding your customers’ behavior in your stores. We also invite you to participate in our talk “Neuromarketing and its benefits for supermarkets.” If you are interested, please get in touch with us at [email protected]