Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Win First Place As a Secure Third Place

Retailers who want their shoppers to linger longer—as in a bar—or require their customers to linger—as in a dog grooming boutique—might aim to create within the minds of those shoppers an image of what consumer researchers call “a third place.” This is an environment in addition to home and work that is appealing because it feels comfortable to the shoppers.
     Researchers at Université Paris-Est, Monash University, and Concordia University interviewed French consumers about those consumers’ experiences with restaurants, cafés, department stores, concert halls, and libraries. The findings from the analyses were that establishments which evoke certain emotions are most likely to become a third place for customers.
     A few of those emotions—such as authentic person-to-person interactions with the store staff—are what you’d probably expect. The store or shop doesn’t need to be fancy. Actually, a fancy ambiance can cause the whole experience to seem inauthentic.
     Beyond this, there’s another emotion which may not have sprung into your mind as important for “third place” awards: Security from intrusions.
     Other research finds that a shop’s physical arrangement influences feelings of physical security. Café seating which allows those who desire to sit with their back to a wall while doing people-watching. A women’s cosmetics section with alcoves in which the shopper can feel a sense of privacy. Waiting rooms insulated from the noise of barking dogs, car repairs, or emergency clinic hustle.
     Familiarity in itself relaxes concerns about physical security. Repeat visits build familiarity. On initial visits, familiarity may come about because of a principle of design common in a culture. In China, stores designed according to the principle of feng shui would be familiar, and therefore more comforting, to shoppers.
     In addition to physical security, there is the importance to consumers of protection from intrusive selling. In their interviews, the researchers heard customers talking about how pushy salespeople and overbearing signage disturbed the “third place” atmosphere. The people wanted a respite. To some degree, this third place is attractive because it’s a retreat from the demands common in those other two—home and work.
     The payoff in being a first place award winner as a third place destination is a strong emotional bond. The repeat customers will strive—including making personal sacrifices—to support the retail establishment in ways ranging from leaving bigger tips to staying alert to finding others to linger at the business.

Click below for more: 
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