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See it, like it, buy it: Tips to boost your Christmas trade / Caroline Capel, MMR Research

by on October 16, 2012 in Latest News, Lead story, Research, Retail, Retail News

MMR’s Director, Retail and Shopper Insight, Caroline Capel, tells retailers how to make festive lines stand out this Christmas.

As budgets tighten, more of us are looking towards the festive season as a time to be enjoyed and an excuse to indulge. As consumers’ expectations for the festive season grow, what does this added pressure mean for businesses?

Retailers and supermarkets need to be more inventive than ever to attract customers and capture their attention. But being inventive is never easy.

There’s always a risk of alienating current customers, or turning off new ones by trying too hard. That’s why with 20 years’ experience in the retail and shopper insight sector, I have devised some tips to help businesses be novel in a way that is likely to boost their Christmas trade, rather than compromise it.

1. Matching layout to mission, mode and motivation

Where the entrance of a store, (the threshold), is a primary area to convey its unique selling point, most shoppers typically arrive in a fast-walking, auto-pilot mode.

The trick is to slow shoppers down and provide plenty of uncluttered space so they can assimilate key communication messages. For example, in supermarkets, the addition of herring-bone aisles to produce departments, has the effect of slowing shoppers down by creating interruption points and encourages shoppers to take stock of what’s available, rather than using the area as a walkway. In addition, the positioning of Christmas floral gifts in the immediate vista from the threshold, also has the effect of providing a brief and pleasurable moment before the start of the chore of the shop.

2. Clear and simple

There is nothing worse than not being able to find a product in a hurry. ‘Grab and go’ items such as baked beans, often purchased on a weekly basis, simply need well-stocked displays and good visibility of the signpost brand (e.g. the Heinz logo) to encourage shoppers to quickly and easily find the products during the busy Christmas period.

Out of stock areas can cause huge frustration, and if extreme can lead to shoppers to selecting alternate stores, so make sure all areas are filled and plan ahead for extra custom over the festive period when ordering deliveries.

3. More detail when required

Unlike grab and go products, seasonal gift items tend to involve a higher degree of decision making on the customer’s part, for example skin care and cosmetics within health and beauty. Keeping a staff member on hand at peak times, to discuss product ranges (e.g. what the products contain and how to use them), reassures customers of their purchases. As these products are bought less often, this additional support helps educate customers and may also help them find their usual purchases when displayed in seasonal packaging.

It is recognised that there is often a dedicated seasonal area in store however additional locations for seasonal items should be carefully considered. Shoppers can be less inclined to browse due to the impact of getting pushed by other shoppers, the “brush” factor – this often occurs at busy times and in front of gondola ends where the seasonal products are often displayed. The creation of seasonal mid-aisle displays can be extremely effective, especially where they are located immediately in the front of a walk-through from an opposite aisle as they are in the shoppers’ immediate line of sight.

4. Be bold

Shoppers can only process around seven items at any one time. The addition of Christmas “visual noise” means there is an increased need to reduce communication clutter.

Signpost seasonal categories with clear, bold displays and colour-block to appear festive from a distance. Focus on decorating the slow, higher consideration areas whilst keeping grab and go, convenience areas clutter-free. And never forget to still signpost brands with simple logos which activate the “scripts” of how shoppers navigate when in autopilot.

5. It makes sense

To go that extra mile towards slowing customers down, apply a mix of ‘environment senses’ to slower-shopped, seasonal areas. Consider the transition to the seasonal departments and the communication in the “departmental threshold”. In addition, how the department smells, feels, sounds and looks to really activate your shoppers senses.

For example, adding fairy lights to festive aisles creates an inspirational grotto effect, and changing the colour or texture of the flooring in some areas can create entry points but beware; hard lines on the floor, can act as barriers to entry! In addition, use cinnamon and mulled wine scents to trigger scripts associated with longer-term Christmas memories. This will help to bring customers out of autopilot-mode and encourage them to consider products for the seasonal occasion.

Together these tips should help you consider solutions for Christmas which will deliver the products the customer wants directly, rather than making them search. Think see it, like it, buy it – if they can’t find it, they won’t purchase.

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