By Anastasia Lloyd-Wallis
Chief Operating Officer and Head of Consumer Insights, Retail Doctor Group

One of the intriguing aspects of customers is why we choose one retail brand over another in our shopping patterns. Of course, to understand this and other motivations of us mere mortals in our shopping habits is one of the great keys to unlock.

We know that our behaviours are determined by our subconscious brains, which can process up to 11 million bits of information every second, meaning that our mind is made up long before our rational senses kick in. So when customers walk past a retail store, the retailer has less than three seconds to attract the customer in store (and the same applies to attracting a shopper into a certain zone in the centre) – it’s love it or leave it. We know this as our subconscious brain

So how do we maximise the impact we have in such a short period of time? And how do we measure this impact to understand if there is in fact a direct positive correlation between store display and ambience and sales?

The key to understanding this is looking into how a stimulus like a window display, ambience, lighting, or certain fragrance in the entrance area etc. are processed by the consumer’s mind. In the very few seconds available, 95 per cent of these stimuli are processed subconsciously in the consumer’s minds.

There is no time for careful consideration or reasoning. The subconscious limbic system in our brain works 200 times faster than the conscious mind, so before we become aware, we have long walked away from a retail store or zone in the shopping centre or gotten drawn into this space.

If a retailer succeeds to attract more attention, and in turn traffic and sales, this is due to the fact that the ambience and experience stimuli have hit the mark with the consumer. That is, they have resonated subconsciously.

Have you ever wondered why you are instantly attracted to one store, but barely notice the existence of another? This is your subconscious talking, and the message is different for everyone. This is why classic demographic or customer research is not nearly deep enough to explain consumer behaviour or motivation. Capturing, for example age, gender, income, preferences, where they live, and possibly past purchase behaviour does not give us an insight into “why” a customer behaves the way they do.

Classical research methodology will tell us what a customer will like; a deeper understanding is required in methodologies such as neuroscientific personality profiling to explain why consumers are drawn to certain brands and their delivery (eg. shop fit designs) that a classical research piece couldn’t show us.

If you’re looking to understand “Why” your customers interacts with you and how to use this to drive foot traffic, increase conversions and improve frequency of visitation reach out to me for a complimentary discussion

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