DOES ADVERTISING influence your choices when you’re shopping? Probably less than you expect. New research in America suggests that three-quarters of purchase decisions are made in the store – not when you see the ad on TV or in a newspaper.
This is not exactly a new discovery. Point of Purchase Advertising International found five years ago that 70% of purchase decisions were made in-store. Now the figure is 76%. This has alarming implications for conventional advert i si ng, because i t i mpl i es t hat advertising doesn’t persuade, rsu it merely generates awareness.
And it strongly sugggests that it ’s more ore important to market ket in the store than oututside it. In fact, says s TBWA r egional al president Reg eg Lascaris, shopping pping doesn’t happen en only in the aisles, or r online. It ’s a continuum, which marketers arketers call the “Shopper Continuum”.
But in-store marketing is significantly different from traditional advertising, because in effect it turns the shop into a new marketing medium. What the retailer or manufacturer does in the new medium includes sampling, brochures distributed at the front door as shoppers stream in, the way the products are displayed on the shelves and electronic screens that draw your attention to specific products.
However, there must be serious doubts about the veracity of these numbers. Where you make your decisions probably varies enormously, depending on the kind of thing you are buying. Say you are buying an item of clothing, such as a jacket. You will probably return from your trip with a jacket – though it may not be the colour, style or brand you originally had in mind. But there’s a good chance you’ll come back with some other items that complement or match your primary purchase. Score one for the researchers.
Now think how you shop for groceries. To attract those racing down the aisle with their trolleys requires much the same sort of advertising as you find on roadside billboards. “It’s the rule of 3-4-5,” says Lascaris. “The message has to be absorbed and understood in less than three seconds, visible from four paces, and the advertising message can’t be longer than five words.”
One of the reasons for the greater atten attention being paid to shopper marketing is the IntInternet. Currently South Africans spend R3.3bn a ye year shopping online, which is not much – but it’s growing 30% a year. An And online shopping behaviour doesn’t do mirror in- store behavi behaviour, says Jenny Moore, a cons consultant with Yellowwood. “You can’t succeed by simply creating an online inventory invento of your instore layout, j ust as you can’t r eplicate your print brochure h on your website and expect it to work,” she says.
Once you’re shopping online, it’s perfectly feasible that your purchase decisions will be made in front of your laptop or iPad screen. One advantage of online shopping is the great access to information that retailers and brand managers can build into the back-end to help shoppers make their decisions.
“The scope of the change is enormous,” says Moore. “But what is badly needed is more research to help us understand online shopping behaviour and to design shopping sites accordingly.”