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#RetailEXPO19: Brand experts must find way to 'talk to shoppers'

Which price label creates more sales – the one that says “was £8.00, now £5.99” (where £5.99 is in a larger font); or “was £8.00, now £5.99” – where the £8.00 font is larger?

To the surprise of many delegates listening to Iona Carter, founding director, Tracer Insight Consulting, on day one of Retail Expo, the answer was not what they thought. “It’s the second one, [not the first as most indicated] – where the ‘was’ price is larger to the eye,” she reveals. “Why? It’s all to do with how humans naturally gravitate more to what the value of the item is,” she says, not how cheap it’s now become.

Her revelation was one of many in a fascinating talk on the topic of how branding and marketing managers need to better apply behavioural psychology to really turn ‘shoppers’ into ‘consumers.’ In a wide-ranging talk, Carter blew away many traditional preconceptions. 

“As marketers, it’s vital we trigger people’s attentions to maximum potential, and we can only do this by applying knowledge about how people process their decision-making,” she explains. “We know people shop on both auto-pilot and with considered thinking. Because these two systems of thinking dominate at different times, we must help the shopper’s cognitive thinking to become easier.”

According to Carter, products should be marketed and presented in ways that enable better mental “fluency” for people. 

“This is where we shape people's processing of information, so it creates a positive behavioural response,” she says. Examples of this, she argues, include images customers are familiar with, or those which signify that they’ll meet the needs of shoppers at that moment in time. 

She says: “When people look at messages, they need to feel spoken to. The good news is that when shoppers feel their goals are being met, they already feel like this product is rewarding them – that’s even before they decide to buy it. Also, when you improve people’s perceptual fluency, data finds it creates a 20% more likely decision to purchase.”

With statistics like this, she adds the power of behavioural science can no longer be ignored. “A famous study once showed that when a supermarket played French music in its wine aisle, 77% of people buying wine bought French wine, and when German music was played, 73% of wine buyers bought German wine."”

She concludes: “In our busy lives we look for mental short-cuts all the time; as brand experts we all need to find ways to talk to shoppers, even when they're on auto-pilot mode.”

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