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Nailing all Senses

Cover of "Buyology: Truth and Lies About ...

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As a psychology student I ‘understand’ that what happens inside our brain is more emotional than cognitive. 

As a marketing professional (handling various brands in my advertising and marketing days) I have ‘seen’ the above translate in real;  marketing research pre-tests be damned. As an educationist, I have ‘explained’ it to my students through case studies on brand loyalty, where emotional connect is the main driver to success. 

Yet as a shopper I have been ‘tricked’ many a times to shop for things I never wanted to buy just because a smart marketer got their act right!

The glaring example that stands in front of me is my choice of the upscale, conveniently located super market called the “Cold Storage” . For those familiar with Singapore, the ever practical, conveniently located, local chain of stores called the “Fairprice” is the rightful choice. While “Cold Storage”  is great when it comes to merchandizing, great products, ample aisle space, courteous staff, Fairprice on the other hand has things going for it too. It promises and delivers better prices, convenient locations for similar products. So it should be the choice for me too. Well it is, but the point I am making is that whenever I do make a visit to “Cold Storage” with an intended list of things to buy – I end up buying much more on impulse. And whenever I make it to “Fairprice with an intended list – I prefer to wear blinkers.

As any retailer would know that walk-ins don’t matter, what counts is “money spent per walk – in”. Just like for an online retailer, visits don’t count, what counts is the “revenue generated per visit”.  Getting me to buy more on impulse than on planned purchases CS has managed to change a practical, rational shopper into one who is given into vagaries and temptations.

And the reason I suspect (…and hold on to your horses) is the smell of freshly baked bread wafting at the entrance of this supermarket; thanks to a quiant bakery they have as a shop-in-shop. Mind you it’s the only shop – in – shop they have. The connection between bread and my wallet is vaguely described here:

  1. Sense of smell is a powerful sense. Take a whiff of J&J shampoo or Vicks vaporub or Pears soap and childhood memories flash up immediately.
  2. As a psychology student I have learnt that the olfactory system made up of receptors in our nasal passage, parts of our brain (olfactory bulb) and neural pathways – help us make sense of any smell. And there is a direct connection between the olfactory bulb and cortex, a part of our brain known to be involved in the formation of “long-term” memory. 
  3. Martin Lindstorm in “Buyology” says that the smell of freshly baked bread has been linked to feelings of ‘comfort’ and ‘warmth’. Its been proved to lead many a customers to dump their intended shopping list and going ballistic with impulse purchases. In fact many super markets don’t even bother having an actual bakery. They simply resort to spraying fragrance of freshly baked bread at the entrance to up their sales!

Smart store management – huh! I don’t remember buying anything much from the bakery itself, but the sight-smell combination that has been created there, has made me go gangbusters many a time. And will continue, as I give in to my unconscious emotive state mind.

Lesson learnt – how we think about something and how we actually behave, rarely match up.

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