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Bricks & Mortar vs the Online Retail

By Peter Steidl

When consumers enjoy shopping and are keen to explore what is available, maybe do some window shopping, try clothes on, look at displays, find out more about some new and interesting products or services, they are Going Shopping. As they enjoy Going Shopping they may even go with friends or family members, they may make the shopping expedition part of a nice time out, have a coffee or some food, chat about interesting things. They are happy to invest time, effort, and money in this shopping expedition and want to get a great experience in return. They typically want to discover exciting options, so they are open to engaging with products, displays, or any in-store activities that will help them to discover new possibilities. They love new news and are likely to share any exciting discoveries with people they know - on-line, over the phone or face-to-face.

When consumers are Doing the Shopping, on the other hand, they are simply completing a chore. The shopping has to be done, but they really don't expect to enjoy it. This means that they want to spend as little time as possible on the process, they don't want to invest more effort than is necessary, and they are keen to spend as little money as they can. Doing the Shopping is typical for repeat purchases, such as the weekly grocery shopping excursion that needs to be done but which, because of its repetitiveness, does not promise much excitement. Many men feel this way about shopping for new clothes - it may have to be done, but they begrudge having to do it. When consumers are Doing the Shopping they are largely only receptive to messages that allow them to complete the task faster, at lower cost, or with less effort. Their goal is to complete the - typically unrewarding - shopping expedition as quickly and effectively as they can.

Clearly, consumers are in a very different mood depending on whether they are Going Shopping or Doing the Shopping.

The same principles apply to the online environment. When consumers go online to explore – to ‘surf the web' - they are receptive to messages and open to new news, suggestions and engagement opportunities. For example, they may visit their favorite social media site to check if anything has happened since their last visit - has anyone responded to their post, do they have any more `likes', has any-one left them a message? Or they may go online to explore what's happening in the world of fashion, potential holiday destinations, ideas for what to do next weekend, or whatever else. Given that they are in 'explorer' mode they are more likely to click on a banner ad, follow a lead or visit a website that is somehow brought to their attention - mainly if these opportunities appear to be relevant to their current explorations, but also if they look particularly engaging or potentially entertaining.

Alternatively, when consumers are looking for the answer to a particular question - an address, an outlet, a price, or whatever it may be - their goal is to find specific information, and anything that al-lows them to find what they are looking for faster or with less effort is welcome, but they are less likely to be distracted by ads or links for unrelated matters.

This is, of course, just common sense and it is common practice to serve ads that relate to the topic of the consumer's search, often informed by that consumer's search history, purchase records and other information that may be available.

What is largely being ignored, however, is the opportunity sharing content offers. When consumers share content they get a dopamine release and are in a positive and often expectant mood which makes them more receptive to any ads, engagement opportunities, or messages that relate to the shared content. 

The above text is published in 'Neuromarketing Essentials' by Peter Steidl. Review more books on neuromarketing