A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time then disperse. Song performances in food courts and mass dancing in train stations are flash mob events many have seen on internet videos.
When flash mobbing began, the objective was to surprise the merchants and shoppers. These days, some centers plan them. There are two reasons for this. First, retailers recognize that the performance can bring excitement to the shopping experience and publicity on the internet afterwards. Second, retailers want to avoid the evil form of the flash mob in which unwary staff go mentally numb and close down their sensory channels while the flash mob steals merchandise. Breaking into song shouldn’t lead to breaking into the store.
Researchers at Simon Fraser University examined the effects on consumers in a public market of having a flash mob surprise shoppers by singing opera. The study compared what happened with the music presented live, the music presented from a recording, and no music.
As expected, the live music produced more consumer arousal and more positive feelings about the shopping experience than did the other two conditions. Both these increase the potential for purchases.
Beyond this, the flash mobs resulted in more feelings of connectedness to the shopping environment and more consumer-to-consumer interaction. The music led to passersby forming groups temporarily because of enjoyment of the music and the experience. This phenomenon, too, can increase shopping basket dollar averages.
When people purchase in groups, each shopper’s cart tends to ring up a higher total than if those same people had shopped alone. They are more likely to make what we think of as impulse purchases. A major reason this happens is that consumers in groups become more willing to take on risks, and it is the fear of risks behind much of any resistances to buying.
Participants in the Simon Fraser study responded positively to the opera music, overall. Clearly, plenty of other people would prefer other styles of music. The magic of the flash mob is in the surprise and the live presence. These can come with a wide range of serenade motifs.
For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers
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Flash Mob Scenarios Before Staff Eyes
Show Impulse Purchase Items for Groups