Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Form Crowds into In-Groups

Many people find enjoyment in the busy bustle of holiday shopping. Being with others who are in a holiday mood gives a sense of community energy. But although these people love the bustle, they hate to be jostled. It’s the unwanted crowds which make a shopper abandon the store to finalize purchases online.
     Researchers at University of Kansas, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and University of Toronto explored the effects of crowding on consumer decision making. One major effect they uncovered was a retreat to safety. For instance, shoppers who encountered crowds of unfamiliar bodies preferred to shop for their headache relievers at a pharmacy than at a convenience store. In casinos, crowding moved typical gamblers toward less risky wagers.
     These findings contradict a phenomenon in psychology called “the risky shift.” First described by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the risky shift refers to how groups of people make more extreme decisions than if those people acted individually. Being insulated from full responsibility by the group, members of a crowd can find themselves tempted to take potentially perilous chances.
     What separates the risky shift from a preference for safety is the feeling of familiarity of the crowd. In the Kansas/Wisconsin/Toronto studies, groups of in-store shoppers who viewed each other as sharing characteristics showed less fear of avoiding possible problems and more interest in exploring possibilities for gain.
     At your store, establish operating hours which spread out what would otherwise be uncomfortable crowding. Distribute highly popular items throughout the shopping area with clear signage and staff assistance to locate those items easily. Up the merchandise density for the holidays, but reserve enough spaces—such as pristine restrooms—to which shoppers can choose to retreat from crowds for a few minutes.
     At the same time, because having lots of people shopping with you is good and shopping excitement is contagious, help large groups find similarities with each other and, importantly, with your store staff.
     If shoppers will be waiting in line to enter the store or department for a special event, have store staff wearing name tags talk to the shoppers. Invite those in line to fill out a sweepstakes form with their name and other identifying information. Because they lose some of their individual identify and therefore their sense of individual responsibility, people in crowds are driven to actions they wouldn’t otherwise take. The name-to-name contact can head this off.

Click below for more: 
Crack Ecommerce Brains for the Holidays 
Pay Your Dues, Then Do for Yourself 
Promote Supervision Which Prevents Problems 
Use Psychology for Shopper Crowd Management

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