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Shopper Insight – Emotion Beats Reason

| International retailers

Shoppers often claim to be rational – and they may genuinely believe it – but, in reality, instincts or feelings often motivate shoppers more quickly and more powerfully than reason.

Shoppers may use evidence and logic to support decisions, but this process is often retrospective, justifying or testing choices that have already been made.

Developing emotional connections between businesses and shoppers – and using these to trigger purchase – is the domain of the marketeer but, in today’s grocery market, all leaders should be familiar with the basics.

This is because developing emotional aspects of grocery transactions allows businesses options for developing dialogue with shoppers that go beyond price and, therefore, create new avenues for profitable growth.

Five Emotional Levers

In the summer of 2016, IGD set out to develop a more complete and precise understanding of what drives shoppers’ emotional involvement with grocery businesses.

In conjunction with an external agency, we spoke at length to both experts and shoppers to develop our ideas, and then conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 individuals to test our model and quantify the various aspects.

Five broad emotional levers have been identified that motivate grocery shoppers. Each lever describes feelings that generate satisfaction amongst shoppers and create emotional commitment to businesses.

Emotions That Motivate

Loyalty is linked to distinctiveness and so, to create loyalty, retailers must seek to create more distinctive emotional propositions.

IGD asked shoppers where they would ideally like the larger grocery retailers to deliver stronger interactions for them.

From these responses, it is clear that there is no emotional benefit to be gained by offering even greater “Control” or a greater sense of “Belonging” – these options did not resonate strongly with shoppers.

Instead, shoppers expressed a strong interest in feeling more “Desire”, “Immersion” and “Freedom”. Specifically, they wanted grocery retailers to make them feel:





At home



New experiences

The yearning for further “Freedom” may play to the strengths of new entrants to the market. Hello Fresh, for example, offers shoppers both inspiration and a way to try new food experiences with limited risk and effort.

Increasing “Immersion” might be achieved through emerging technologies such as virtual reality – Oculus Rifts headsets are now available to UK shoppers. In 2015, Nestlé teamed up with Google to create a cardboard VR headset which could be combined with a smartphone to provide an immersive VR experience.

Summary and slides of a presentation given during a special lunchtime seminar at the IGD’s Big Debate conference in London on 18 October 2016.

Download the presentation slides here (PDF)

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