With the intense industry focus on the power of emotion and its potential for influencing shopper outcomes using Behavioral Science, this study set out to determine if we could: 1. Improve shopper moods in store, and if yes, 2. Measure the influence of elevated shopper moods on in-store behavior.
If in fact, we could illustrate that mood elevation yields more beneficial behavior for retailers and manufacturers, a whole new field of endeavor may be likely to ensue, potentially treating the induction of positive emotion as a new marketing channel with clear goals, investment strategies, creative solutions, and ROI metrics to be crafted. In order to achieve this objective, we would need an appealing, cost-efficient, practical way to measurably elevate shopper emotions and a research design sensitive to capturing several key response mechanisms from arousal and behavioral patterns, such as navigating, touching products, gazing and ultimate shopper purchase outcomes for basket size and items purchased. Moreover, we would need to include a non-mood elevated control cell for comparison to clearly establish meaningful shifts. This study represents an R&D investment by Ipsos in collaboration with Eye Faster using multi-method modalities including behavioral economics, mobile eye-tracking, biometrics for heart rate and GSR, purchase auditing, survey, and voice analysis for emotion with Beyond Verbal. The goal was to determine if mood elevation could be measurably induced, and if so, determine the impact on shopper navigation, physiological neuro-response, visual interest, product touching, products purchased, total expenditures, perceptions about the experience and emotional state as determined by voice analysis for a test vs. control group. Our ingoing hypotheses were twofold.
1. We believed that it would be possible to measurably impact mood elevation in matched test vs control groups and 2. We hypothesized that enhanced positive emotion would have a positive impact on the shopper experience. As there were many aspects that could be impacted from emotional physiological arousal, including greater engagement in the shopping process, higher perceived enjoyment, greater amount of time spent shopping, more purchases, etc. we included multiple measurement modalities to determine which aspects of the shopper experience were most impacted if any. The Behavioral Economics construct for the study was to potentially elevate shopper moods in the test cell by surprising them with the gift of an unexpected flower, a gerbera daisy, as they entered the soft drink aisle. The gifting was orchestrated to be delivered by a male store employee under the auspices of “customer appreciation day” if a reason was requested. People in the control group, fielded on separate days, had identical specifications and test protocol except that they did NOT receive a flower. Central to the study was permission to test shopper behavior within a representative large scale grocery store. Shoppers were intercepted to recruit people who were already intending to shop certain categories that day in St. Louis, MO.
It is very rare and exciting when the results from an R&D study provide positive results beyond expectations and also when they generate genuine leverageable surprises. And yet, that was the case for this set of results for the “Flower Power!” Study. First, as hoped, the gifting of a gerbera daisy created a measurable lift in mood. This was demonstrated by increased heart rate, GSR, cognitive survey responses about the shopper experience and embracive emotions measured by the voice analysis of open-ended responses recorded on an iPad and analyzed by Beyond Verbal algorithms. Moreover, for complete face validity, beyond the signifi cant physiological indicators of positive response and arousal plus the conscious acknowledgment through survey questions, the researchers were able to empirically observe enhanced positive affect consistently in the form of smiles, upbeat
demeanors and energy levels for the test group. In other words shoppers who received fl owers continued to smile from ear-to-ear throughout the journey.
The shopper experience changed measurably:
- Less price sensitivity: Using state of the art mobile eye-tracking analysis the results revealed that the test group spent less time paying attention to price tags in the categories studied. Greater attention was paid to products instead - looking at them, touching them, and putting them in the basket
- Purchases: When products were held by the test group, higher-priced items were held more without the normal price resistance and there was a directionally higher purchase rate for the packages that were held
- More thorough shopping: Test cell shoppers were less constrained. They examined more aisles and considered more products
- Bigger baskets: Basket size, in both spend and item count, increased directionally
The consistent pattern of results across multiple System 1 and 2 measures suggests that shoppers’ moods can be effectively improved and that an elevated mood has a measurable impact on shopper behavior. With substantive changes in emotional engagement, as demonstrated by elevated heart rate and GSR, we also established what appeared to be less inhibited shopping behavior in the form of examining more products, shopping more aisles, touching more products, buying a higher rate of touched products, paying less attention to price and, directionally within the confines of this study, buying more. This study invites an entirely new perspective on how to maximize brand impact in-store. If marketers can elevate shopper moods and the change in mood has positive repercussions for overall shopper engagement, enjoyment and purchasing, there will be new potential pathways to purchase. Imagine custom mood elevation programs using everything from special offers, video and arresting visuals, to sensory experiences such as fragrance, sound and music, all tied to category, brand or use occasion. This is likely to have a positive effect on brand preference in context of the experience and overall purchase rates. Moreover the study suggests that when we are in a
good mood, we are less guarded about price.