How the eye and memory control our purchase decisions in the store2015-12-16
The majority of purchasing decisions are made on location in the store. Even if you already in advance have decided what kind of cereal to buy, it is not until you are in the store that it is determined which cereal box ends up in the basket. Store owners and manufacturers are well aware of this and that is why our stores are filled with various messages for us consumers. The question is, what actually works and how do the consumers react? This is what researchers at CTF have studied, financed by the Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council, and now have released a report on the study.
In the project, the researchers followed the consumer through the store with the help of eye-tracking equipment, eye-tracking, which records the person’s eye movements. By these measurements the researchers have been able to follow, in detail what the customers were watching, what they pay attention to and how it affects their decisions.
Attention is a limited resource
We quickly sort away and sift through information when we step into a store:
- The brain is lazy and is constantly looking for the easiest way to solve a problem, one example of this is that we see with the memory. Products placed in unexpected places are therefore invisible to us, says project manager Erik Wästlund.
The customer’s attention is largely controlled by the goal of the visit to the store. A person who wants to buy a certain kind of coffee to a much higher degree sorts away information that is irrelevant than someone that is that haphazardly looking for something good to buy to bring to the colleagues at work.
Consumers who are new in a store does not compare as far as they find their way in unknown territory while returning customers can scan the store for deals, because they do not need to find their way to the same degree. People who have devoted much energy to a decision tends to be more selective.
Facilitating the customer
The research results show that it is important to simplify navigating and decision making for the customer and take into consideration the customer’s ability to process information throughout the whole purchase cycle. The role of the store communication is to facilitate and create a pleasant environment for the customer, not only to sell and inform out of the merchant’s point of view. The choice between a store that is difficult navigate and one that is easy to navigate, the customer will prefer and return to the latter.
- The store staff is, however, the most important. There is no signage, TV screens or packaging that can replace the advice and assistance from staff in the store, says Erik Wästlund
In the project "Tomorrow's customer signals: Navigating and influencing factors in retail” researchers have through experiments in a lab environment and on site in stores studied how the visual attention and the brain affects what we see, and how it affects us when we navigate and make purchase decisions in the store. Researchers have focused on in-store signage, the limits of the visual attention and the brain's limitations. Overall, the results regarding eye movements in the store show store owners how they can use the knowledge of attention, to better understand what affect customers during a store visit. The report "Decision-making in the store – the limits of vision and attention and its significance" (2015: 6, only available in Swedish) is published by the Trade Development Council and can be downloaded here via www.hur.nu.