A recent article in NYT “Nudged to the Produce Aisle by a Look in the Mirror” talks about interesting experiments carried out by researchers to increase the purchase of produce by the American shoppers firstly for an altruistic motive of reducing the consumption of unhealthy processed food without hitting on their head and in turn save indirectly tax-payer’s money on health-care. Preaching about diabetes or slapping taxes on junk food have not yielded expected results. And of course the business motive of higher profit margins the produce fetch for the stores.
The corollary question is: could these experiments be applied to generate in an online e-shop just the right amount of pressure to nudge the shopper towards the desired behavior?
Let us look at a few possible candidate experiments/findings:
“…In one early test at a store in Virginia, grocery carts carried a strip of yellow duct tape that divided the baskets neatly in half; a flier instructed shoppers to put their fruits and vegetables in the front half of the cart. Average produce sales per customer jumped to $8.85 from $3.99…”
A shopper filling his basket with unhealthy processed food would be unable to ignore seeing a near-empty produce-side of his basket.
Likewise in a e-shop, we could total up and present how much of produce has the shopper bought till now as he fills up the shopping-cart? We could also present the RDA value of items selected.
“…With those same guinea-pig customers, the scientists tinkered again with the cart, creating a glossy placard that hung inside the baskets…In English and Spanish, the signs told shoppers how much produce the average customer was buying…and which fruits and vegetables were the biggest sellers (bananas, limes and avocados)…By the second week, produce sales had jumped 10 percent…”
This is about conformance to social ‘norm’.
Bruce Temkin in his article lucidly sums it up as:
“Why it works: Unlike the previous two examples, this tactic makes no effort to engage reason, rather it harnesses one of our intuitive biases—conformity bias. Our brains like shortcuts, and in order to skip unnecessarily lengthy rational calculations, our minds tend to assume that if other people do something we should do it too.”
In fact this easy flowing default disposition of the shopper is used to advantage in a variety of ways in designing the layout of the mall and its stacks.
In a e-shop this simply amounts to presenting prevailing context sensitive social ‘norms’ without appearing too obvious.
A flavor of this is already a common practice in many other market segments: “Those who bought this have also bought…”
“…Scientists are beginning to study ways to get shoppers to buy more produce, but grocers and their suppliers have already spent years perfecting strategies to sell processed foods. Here’s a sampling of tactics:
THE SWEETEST ITEMS are sold at eye level, midway along aisles, where shoppers’ attention lingers longest.
THE ENDS OF AISLES are huge revenue generators, especially for soda, which makes 45 percent of its sales through racks there, according to the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council.
IMPULSE PURCHASES (60 percent of purchases are unplanned) can be encouraged by placing items next to checkouts…”
There a number of these findings all about placement of the items to advantage on the shelves in the mall.
Similarly generic research findings for on-line shopping and site-specific and shopper-specific analytics could aid in tweaking placements, search results ordering, etc.
For e-shop designers, it would certainly be profitable to look at what works for the physical shops.
Credits: nytimes.com/2013/08/28/dining/wooing-us-down-the-produce-aisle.html, Bruce Temkin in experiencematters.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/design-experiences-to-nudge-consumers/ and Wiki