Monday, September 2, 2013

Nudge Shoppers Toward Profitable Habits

A recent New York Times feature describes a bundle of research-based tactics supermarkets have used in programs to influence shoppers to buy a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables instead of less healthy processed food alternatives:
  • Installing a mirror inside the cart so that the shopper will see his or her face. This increases personal accountability. 
  • Instead of the mirror, installing a reflective card informing the person about how other shoppers were buying bananas, limes, and avocados. Social norms often guide people’s behavioral choices. 
  • Dividing the cart into a front and back section with a strip of yellow tape and then instructing shoppers to place the produce in the front section and the other items in the back section. This increases food choice awareness. 
  • Laying down large floor mats with green arrows pointed toward the produce aisles. Shoppers unfamiliar with the store might go by those aisles because they think they’re being directed to do so. Shoppers familiar with the store might follow the arrows out of curiosity. In both cases, the more footsteps passing by the fruits and vegetables, the greater the odds for body-friendly goods to end up going home. 
     If one of these tactics is good, would two or more be great? No. In El Paso, Texas grocery store trials, implementing either the reflective cards or the arrow floor mats raised produce sales, but using both of them at the same time caused produce sales to drop.
     How about going bigger with one of the tactics? New Mexico State University and University of North Carolina researchers experimented with a full-length mirror right inside the entrance to the grocery store. No reported effect on produce sales. It seems better to have a small mirror facing the shopper in the face for the duration of the travel up and down store aisles.
     The results from psychologically nudging shoppers beat out results from trying to psychologically beat shoppers into submission. Other examples:
  • In personal selling, use rhetorical questions—yes/no inquiries to which the answer is felt to be so obvious that no reply is necessary—only after you sense that a customer wants to make the purchase, but needs a bit of a nudge. 
  • A brief mental nudge of customers toward them thinking in the long-term significantly increases the possibility they’ll spend more money in your store. But a mental bludgeon against considering short-term consequences is likely to backfire. 
Click below for more: 
Use Rhetorical Questions to Close Sales 
Respect the Limits of Your Influence 
Tip Off Shoppers Before Manipulation

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