Consumer behaviour decoded
A Guest blog by Fairy Dharawat
According to Wikipedia, “Understanding consumer behaviour is the study of when, why, how, and where people do or do not buy a product.”
Why should you, a small time business owner want to know about this?
As if a regular business owner is not daunted with many responsibilities, this study seems redundant and anyway, there are many small businesses who have been there; done that. These small time businesses are still healthily surviving.
Well to this I say that, understanding your consumers has never been so important. If you are small business, it should be a priority to undertake active participation in all consumer activities. Just because you run a small business, doesn’t mean you can’t use techniques used by big business and make your business big too! If you believe this, then read on as I embark on some points, very basic points about consumer behaviour; to be honest this is a huge topic which can be put across in many ways.
To increase shoppers in your store, you have to be on your toes. Even if you have small business, customer service will bring customers. Understanding customers has never been so valued. So let us decode some consumer behaviour.
Encourage shopping by;
· Providing provision for various credit or payment terms.
· Providing offers on sales and promotions.
But one has to remember that for a healthy retail environment, one has to have consistent sales from their consumers. Sales will increase when offers are introduced but they shouldn’t be so generous that the store is deserted on other days.
One way to decode your consumer is to segment them; you can segment them as per their buying habits and their frequency of visits.
· Analyse, see which group of people resides in your market
o Their social nature, their culture, status, financial condition
· Segment them as per their age groups, location and types such as,
o Avid shopper, usual shopper, occasional shopper, etc.
o Age group of 20-30yrs, 30-40yrs, 40-55yrs, etc.
o Luxury shopper, trend shopper, fashion shopper.
· Again segment them as per their frequency of visits.
o They could fall in loyal, regular or once in a blue moon category.
· Now record their purchasing habits.
o What they always buy and when they buy,
o What they see and what they observe.
The key is to find how many shoppers are coming to your outlet and then find out how many real buyers there are.
It is hard, but not impossible. Hire some youngsters and carry out a local survey about your store. Ask prospective customers what they would prefer. It can be inexpensive to do your own survey and research and it has multiple purposes, it provides you with valuable information, publicises your store and importantly shows potential customers that you care enough to listen to their needs.
If you can find out about what your prospective customers wants and needs, then you might be able to identify additional products to stock that will increase sales.
Communicate with your shoppers. Create a friendly relationship where you can tell them that you care whether they go to another retail outlet; build loyalty. This way you don’t have to worry about word of mouth publicity; it will happen itself and create magic. Communicate with your shoppers; even if they don’t buy, talk to them and they will feel good. This will ultimately turn them into buyers someday.
Imagine you liked a suit, but you didn’t plan to purchase so you just came in looked at it.. Now in the same scenario, a person gave you the details of the suit complete with fabric details and tailored design. You decide that this is the perfect garment to create a first class impression at the presentation you are going to have. The interest level is sure to rise and hence there is a more chance of a purchase. All consumers need is a little encouragement and they will be willing to dive in to the buying mode. Value your customers and let them know that they are valued in your store. Talk and respond to consumer needs and wants and encourage them tell you their feedback and experience. No need to hover around your shopper. You just need to know your shoppers.
Consumer behaviour is hard no doubt, but what really motivate them to buy are usually their needs, impulses and want. You not only survey potential customers, but ask them questions in store and monitor their behaviour. This process may not be expensive, but could take more time. But this time will be well invested. Information about your customers and potential customers can identify areas of your business that can change and so achieve increased sales. Customers stop and the checkout for a minute, they become bored and look around. What are they looking at? Can they be tempted to buy an additional product? Can you stock something that will save them a trip to another store? You can analyse customer behaviour by always asking questions and never taking your customers for granted.