Grabbing the Attention of the Bored Shopper

Waynette Tubbs

Are you looking for the secret sauce to turning shoppers into buyers and buyers into lifetime customers? Well … just as you guessed, there isn’t one. But today I heard some really interesting insights into human behavior that may help.

Kit Yarrow, award-winning consumer psychologist, spoke at one of the final keynote presentations at Bronto Summit 2016. Her best advice? “Doing the same things better isn’t the solution; the solution is to do different things.”

Kit YarrowDo different things.

Sounds like something we’d all like to try, but where do we start? Well, Yarrow shared eight shifts she’s observed in human behavior that she thinks we should all keep in mind when planning our future marketing strategy.

1. Technovation.

For the Gen Yers, new isn’t just new, it’s better! And that mindset is becoming more persistent across generations. In her research, Yarrow found that we have all become early adopters today. In fact, our devotion to technology is so great that we generally believe that people who use technology are more intelligent and make better leaders.

With that in mind, think about the shopping experience you create for your customers. For instance, a colleague recently went into a high-end women’s clothing store to buy a pair of slacks. They didn’t have her size, so they offered free shipping and a discount if she ordered them while in the store. Great!

The salesperson escorted her to a red telephone with a direct line to customer service. What?! A telephone? So now my friend had to wait on the line for the customer service rep, then give the rep her address, phone number and credit card information – all while others were shopping around her. Not great!

Now compare that to my recent experience: While in Staples looking at iPhone cases, I noticed that the Fitbit One was on sale. Unfortunately, they were out. Instead of giving me a rain check, the salesperson took me to a station with a touchscreen monitor and offered free two-day shipping if I ordered right there in the store. The process was fast and easy – and what I would expect of a modern retailer.

2.We think and decide differently today.

According to Yarrow, our thought processes are changing. We are more easily distracted and have a lower tolerance for complexity. We’re impatient and want to get the most from any time investment, so we skim content and trust visuals more. “If you give someone a block of text, only 67% will believe the information,” said Yarrow. “However, if you put the same information in a graph or chart, 97% will believe it.”

3. We want it now.

We’re bored more easily today, and not just in the sense that we need more stimulation – we find explanations and product details exhausting. It’s inconvenient to search for something, and shopping is a turn-off.

Yarrow says to counter the consumer’s need to quickly move on, you need to remove the complexity and ambiguity. “When consumers encounter businesses that make it difficult for them, they avoid it,” she says. Make it easy for them to make a purchase decision.

4. We’re emotional.

Here’s a startling statistic: 76% of US consumers say they’re bargain hunters, but only 40% say it’s because of their budget. The good news for retailers is that bargain hunting isn’t just about money. It’s more about psychology – finding a bargain confirms for the buyer that they weren’t taken advantage of. They’re smart. They won. “Retailers can tap into the bargain shopper’s mentality by giving exclusivity or introducing urgency that gives the buyer a sense of winning,” says Yarrow.

5. We crave a connection.

Everywhere you look, you see people with their eyes glued to a screen. Our selfie generation is trying so hard to stay connected that we’ve actually isolated ourselves. Add to that the fact that we are increasingly self-reliant, independent. And this lack of dependence on others has exacerbated the feeling of disconnectedness. To counter this feeling of isolation, make your customers feel cool – unique and special. And facilitate engagement with your brand and with other customers – maybe with member’s only deals or events.

6. Consumers are in charge.

Consumers know that they are in charge. Take advantage of that by giving them more opportunities to control their shopping experience – and inform the shopping decisions of others. Help them share your product by letting them be the expert. Give them lots of ways to share user-generated content and ratings/reviews. Create “postable” moments.

7. We’re more anxious.

We’re afraid of making bad choices and trusting the wrong people. That anxiety has changed the way we make decisions. This is a cross-generation mentality, but Gen Y is even more distrustful than older generations.

The antidote for anxiety is control – so, give them control. They’d rather do the research themselves so they won’t be led astray. Brands can create trust by being transparent and respectful. Give them the information they need to make an informed decision.

8. Rudeness is on the rise.

Along with the anxiety and distrust comes anger and rancor. Your recipe to counter this shift in consumer character? Kindness, optimism, humor and happiness. According to Yarrow, in 2015, the 50 brands with the strongest financial growth were associated with positive personality characteristics.

“Seeing the big picture has never been as important as it is today,” says Yarrow. “Seeing the altered psychology of today’s consumers offers many opportunities to change practices within your business to directly address those changes.

“Again, I think that doing the same things better isn’t the solution today. It really is doing better things.”

Read more of Yarrow’s advice for marketers on her site and in her book, “Decoding the New Consumer Mind.”