The Psychology Behind In-Store Marketing

The Psychology Behind In-Store Marketing

The stores of today are much more than just places to buy and sell products. Shops know more about you than ever before, and the continued research into consumer buying habits is immense.

Just as commercials are the hook-and-line to draw someone into a store or promote a product that you simply cannot live without, in-store marketing subconsciously impacts the way you shop and buy.

1. It’s All About the Atmosphere

The most successful stores are ones that perfect the art of selling a consumer experience, and customers respond differently to retailers that put an effort into their appearance and atmosphere – even if they don’t realize it.

Consumers are more likely to spend money at a store that is nicely decorated, well lit, and friendly. Take Whole Foods, for example. Whole Foods makes you feel good about yourself and about your “food experience” while in the store. By pushing key words and concepts such as local, organic, GMO free, and social corporate responsibility, Whole Foods makes shoppers feel as though they’re more informed and responsible buyers, which is often how consumers mentally justify paying higher prices. By using chalkboards to advertise deals and product prices, Whole Foods alludes to the atmosphere of a farmer’s market – fresh local products that just happen to be bought in a store. All of this reinforces the positive attitude consumers have towards a brand’s integrity.

Effective in-store digital signage is another way to enhance your store’s atmosphere. The dynamic nature of digital signage can be an entertaining and impactful way to engage customers and make a store look up to date and innovative. In-store signage allows stores to quickly update signage to reflect current sales, offers, and initiatives, and keep your marketing fresh, increasing in store atmosphere.

Atmosphere is also offered through the services a store provides. Swedish furniture giant IKEA has been offering in-store childcare for customers since 1958, and was one of the first big chain stores to do so. By offering babysitting, parents are made to feel more at ease and can focus more time and energy on IKEA’s ultimate goal: to buy more stuff. The same applies to play places at fast food joints such as McDonald’s. Parents feel as though they’re getting a mental break out of the playground, and will stay in the restaurant longer and may be more likely to buy another round of food.

The services don’t stop there. Stores offering free samples, childcare, and Wi-Fi are a sure-fired way to keep a customer’s mood high, which translates to better sales in the long run.

2. Size Matters

A study conducted by Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab has shown that when it comes to buffets, diners with a big plate will eat 50% more than those with small plates – whether they’re hungry or not. This phenomenon picks up on the human habit of visual cues: the bigger the space, the more likely we are to want to fill it.

That’s where giant shopping carts come in. While carts used to be a convenient step-up from the basket, they have now become a mechanism to make shoppers buy more. Just as was found in Cornell’s plate study, research has shown that when a shopping cart is doubled in size, shoppers will generally buy 40% more than they would have with a regular sized cart. Today shopping carts have even expanded to flatbed carts so it’s easier to transport furniture and mass amounts of bulk goods.

3. The Psychology of Store Layout

It’s not a coincidence that you need to stroll through the entire grocery store to buy staples such as milk, bread, and eggs. By passing other products you don’t need, the likelihood of you buying that item is increased. Along the way, you may notice that popular items are placed on the right side of shelves. This is because of the North American tendency to push carts on the right side of the aisle. The psychology of shopping affects you at any age – products such as sugary cereals and candy are often placed on lower shelves to appeal to kids shopping with their parents. Finally, popular items are usually placed in the middle of shelves, visually framed by all the other inferior products. Psychologically, this makes those items appear more appealing.

Entranceway store layouts are especially important. Shops need to lure customers in, and then make them stay. The entrance area has a name: it’s called the decompression zone, and it’s where shoppers can be greeted and visually wined and dined by all the in-store deals. For clothing stores, entrances are all about advertising “not to miss” deals and outfit ensembles – elements meant to give consumers a sense of potential with their prospective purchases.

If the layout of a store doesn’t accommodate all of the products available, there is also always an option for endless aisle kiosks. Endless aisle kisoks allow customer to order products that are not currently in store either because they are not currently in stock, or not in store. Adding these kiosks allow customers more options for inventory diversity, even if the layout doesn’t account for the space needed.

Grocery stores also tap into two other senses: smell and aural. By putting the floral section or bakery near the entrance, consumers are met by two positive smells, ones that are meant to further reel them in and boost their mood. Music also plays a big role. “Psychology Today” talks about how slower tempo music and songs performed in major keys can cause consumers to spend more. So whether or not you think you’re listening to what’s coming out over the loudspeaker, your subconscious may be.

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By John Fecteau, co-founder and executive with Worldlink Integration.

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