Thursday, November 7, 2013

Time Metaphors Until Christmas

“Secrets of Selfridges,” which premiered on PBS this last weekend, credits London retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge with popularizing the countdown chant, “Only this many shopping days until Christmas.”
     Mr. Selfridge introduced numerous innovations, most of them now commonplace in the industry: Bargain basements and bi-annual storewide sales. Cosmetics right inside the ground floor entrance. Women’s toilets—a 1909 first in British stores. But this holiday season, the countdown chant has extra import. Last year, there were 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, there are 26.
     To turn the time pressure to your advantage, understand how shoppers experience time. Researchers at University of Western Ontario, University of Missouri-Columbia, and University of Virginia used metaphors to describe five common patterns. Here’s my version, along with hints for the best ways to make a sale:
  • Time is a pressure cooker. The pressure cooker shopper may be accompanied by children or a spouse and talks about spending time with others. They respond best to methodically considering one purchase choice at a time. 
  • Time is a map. These consumers appreciate a salesperson who relates the individual consumer’s past needs to current purchase alternatives to future consequences. Their shopping pace is relatively leisurely. Because they can multitask, they often engage in comparison shopping. 
  • Time is a mirror. These shoppers are like “time is a map” consumers, but want more emphasis on learning from the past and less on anticipating future consequences. If they’re your regular customers, they’ll resist changing to another store. If they’re not your regular customers, they’ll need extra incentives to switch loyalty to you. 
  • Time is a river. Compared to consumers fitting one of the other orientations to time, these shoppers are more spontaneous and open to making unanticipated purchases. Women seeking retail therapy are likely to have a “time is a river” style. 
  • Time is a feast. “Eat the dessert first. There’s always time for the entrée later.” That’s the motto of the extreme “time is a feast” shopper. Those who are less extreme still aim for sensory pleasure and novel alternatives when at your store. Not surprising, their focus is much more on the present than on the past or future. Perhaps surprising is that they tend to be less spontaneous than the “time is a river” group. 
     By matching your salesmanship to the shopper’s time metaphors, you increase the probability of closing the deal before Christmas Day.

Click below for more: 
Clock Customer Actions to Fit Time Metaphors 
Stomp Discount Scams from High Time Pressure

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