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Context matters – W.I.N at retail shopping post COVID

Mark Pingol VP 25/09/2020

As we all know, there is a discrepancy between what people say versus what they do. This is because of context. Environmental factors, which can be physical and/or emotional, can have a significant impact on our actions without us even realising it.

A large part of what we do for our clients is centred around creating a change in behaviour.

Behavioural science, or behavioural economics, tells us that context matters. It has an implicit effect on our decisions causing a series of biases or heuristics or mental shortcuts that goes against rational behaviour.

In a recent webinar, ‘WIN at Retail – Shopping post COVID’, we highlighted the importance of assessing context and the behavioural nuances that impact the way we think and ultimately how we behave.

A large part of what we do for our clients is centred around creating a change in behaviour. It’s very much understanding what consumers are thinking about, but also identifying what the context is in which they are making those decisions. By doing so we can understand how consumers are thinking, and this is integral to creating change. By understanding how consumers think, we then have the context in which decision making is formed and in doing so, we are then able to shape and influence behaviour.

Applying this understanding to the retail sector has never been more complex. The sector continues to adapt to the ever-changing environment COVID-19 presents. This changing context makes it incredibly challenging to predict consumer behaviour. However, there are key behaviours we all have in common which impact shopping experiences across sectors and markets, that build our purchase confidence.  These range from our desire to…

  • Be tactile… wanting to look, touch and feel products
  • Feel welcomed… acknowledged when visiting a store
  • Not be bombarded… be targeted by a small number of messages

Not surprisingly we have seen key changes in behaviours when it comes to retail over the past six months, from increased sales through online, as well as click and collect, whilst further opportunities still undoubtedly exist around encouraging the use of digital and contactless pay.

So how do retailers adapt current strategies to work around changing behaviours but also keep in mind the current context?

Since lockdown in March we’ve identified three important themes, encompassed in our “W.I.N.” framework, to help businesses objectively measure and assess the viability of potential initiatives they may be considering. Our key themes are:

  1. ‘Wired’: we are all now getting accustomed to socialising and shopping online and this looks to continue. For example, are you creating an engaging online experience that goes beyond just transactional?
  2. ‘Interconnectedness’:most of us are in constant contact with our social networks digitally in lieu of face-to-face (something we may have been missing and will now want more of). For example, do your current retail strategies facilitate social connections with all shopping partners both online and in-situ?
  3. ‘New Norms’: With the world constantly changing, new social contracts and behaviours are manifesting themselves and will become permanent (think face masks). For example, do you have a constant view of changing norms and is your business agile enough to accommodate these changes?

We’ve been applying our W.I.N framework to a range of client issues in recent months, through an approach that evaluates what the context is, to the decisions consumers are making, but also to understand how consumers are thinking.

To find out more about how to W.I.N at retail please click on the links below to our Behavioural Research webinar from late July. In it we discuss the relevant behavioural science considerations, as well as findings from our past research, that are impacting how we shop and what businesses can do to make sure their retail initiatives are suited to the ever-changing nature of shopper behaviour.

  • Access the full recording here
  • Download a copy of the PowerPoint slides here

Alternatively, for more information on how we are helping retailers successfully navigate these times, please get in touch.