Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tangou - Social Shopping

You may have read about Tangou - like minded individuals combining to specifically collectively haggle for an item. Popular in China where haggling and collectivism are both salient.

Similar thing with carrotmob - who seek to combine individuals to reward companies and stores that are green - even liquor stores. Good video example here.

Both examples of social shopping using technology to facilitate grouping of people for a specific purpose.

The TNS survey cited earlier indicated that Canadians are more open to this than shoppers in other countries ...although little sign of it here so far.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Distracted and Depressed Shoppers

Some time back it was recently discovered that depressed shoppers buy more - as they tend to try to create a sense of self through purchases and fire up with dopamine.

Now a new study implies that distraction can lead to less cognitively processed purchase decision - hence greater propensity brand switching.

The point on depression is not that retailers should depress their shoppers....simply that they need to provide enjoyment. Distraction is hardly a surprise. The intention of shopper marketing is to distract and interrupt habitual purchase.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Most Interesting Thing About Canadian Shoppers

After 5 years in Canada I have adopted the national pastime of focusing my attention on the nuanced differences between Americans and Canadians.

And that is why when I read TNS' New Future in Store report I couldn't help myself getting excited not only by the fact that Canada is shown as a data point (quite a self esteem boost) but it shows that we are different from American shoppers ...

Beauty, eh?

The first thing is that Canadians seem generally more open to innovation retail than Americans. Americans consumers are notoriously conservative in their attitudes to retail - partly due to lack of retail consolidation in its past - and technology.

But the most interesting trend and the most interesting cross border North American difference is the appeal of group buying (using the Internet as a tool). Shopping has always been social and the Internet is already facilitating that in a number of categories. Could it be that Canada's collectivist social and political culture is manifesting itself here? Look who else is high up on the trend - China, Japan and France....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Drivers of Changing Trip Types

According to Stuart Rose of Marks & Spencer in the UK "People's purses are being squeezed," he said. "A seismic shift [in shopping habits] is going on."

He blames very poor performance of M&S on not only economic factors but specifically fuel prices and that people are shopping locally rather than at out-of-town shopping centres to avoid using gas.

I am not sure how this will net out but we should expect to see a shift in trip types driven by a myriad of factors - including fuel prices.

Although I am not sure of the impact in Canada of fuel prices on shopping habits. The average distance driven for a stock up trip is 7km in total. That would cost about $3 in gas - an increase from $2 prior to the increase in prices. I am not sure if people are that sensitive to gas prices - unless of course the motivation is emotional and the simple act of driving causes pain.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Your Brain on Shopping

Application of neuroscience to marketing has been focused on advertising and media and less on shopping.

There is an obvious limitation due to the relative lack of portability of equipment required to monitor brain activity and other physiological reaction.

This video shows Dr. David Lewis from Mindlab demonstrating the use of EEG equipment to assess consumer reaction in store.

The current trouble is that EEG and other portable equipment only gives a very limited read on brain activity. Peaks when we see bright colours isn't that insightful. No doubt the technology will improve.

I guess it is possible that one day researchers will be able to see the kind of activity that fMRI allows (e.g. activation and deactivation of the insula and the medial prefrontal cortex assocatied with purchase decisions) while a consumer shops. That will obviously provide almost scary insights.

Good post on the neuroscience of purchasing here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mobile Web Based Social Shopping Tool

Can I get more marketing buzzwords in my title? Maybe I should add 'experience' and 'network'.

This is a new tool that allows shoppers to connect via a mobile web site provided by

According to the article "The mobile version of the service allows people to use a cellphone's browser to access information at Shoppers can read reviews by typing in a product's name or product code into a search field. A user who created a shopping list online can leave the paper list at home and pull up the electronic version".

This is one of those things that will probably morph into something else as it evolves. The social element is interesting. They talk about diet / nutrition needs. Seems like something of a niche - although it could be popular among those aging and picky boomers who might actually have time to do this.

I suspect it may end up being about price. As food prices rise and the economy worsens I can imagine a means of checking online flyers for competitive stores while shopping would be popular. "I'll wait and get my coffee when I go to price Chopper because they have it at $4.97" (they do...I just checked online)

More on social shopping here ....from UK company Kaboodle whose founder Manish Chandra says:

"Shopping is an inherently social activity, where discovery, input, recommendations and purchasing are all part of the normal shopping process. Our goal in creating Kaboodle’s online shopping community was not only to give our members the tools to emulate the offline shopping experience online, but to also leverage the power of the online experience."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Less is More at Point of Sale

Nielsen Media Research just did a study that found shorter (10 and 15 seconds) ads are more 'effective' than longer (30 seconds) at gas pumps in the US.

Okay, their measure of effectiveness is simply recall - which may or may not be a good one - but it seems intuitively correct. We probably shouldn't be thinking in terms of 15 vs. 30 second at all when it comes to out of home advertising. But TV is where all the parameters have been created for measurement of effectiveness.

I am sure that processing ads at gas pumps is different to processing ads at home in the context of entertainment. A less linear narrative and more visual branding elements are probably more appropriate - somewhere between billboards and TV commercials. We have a long way to go to better understand the effectiveness of different executions in different out of home contexts.