by Mimi Nicklin (@MimiNicklin) Walt Disney once said “People spend money where and when they feel good.”

[pullquote]Quite simply, if there is no joy/reward/connection with your message, the stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap school of thought will indeed capture short term, easy come, easy go shoppers, but it wont create any medium term impact and it won’t necessarily reengage her throughout the duration of the promotion.[/pullquote]

This understanding led Disney to found one of experiential retail’s biggest-ever successes with 14+ theme parks across the globe that are an almost perfect, high margin,seemingly recession proof, experiential ‘shopping’ offering. But can you really learn from a theme park when looking at how to sell more in a supermarket in Benoni or hyper store in Phoenix? And are there ways that us as marketers (versus retailers who have the power to do what they wish with the physical store) can really effect the joys of shopping and in doing so, encourage more people, more often to choose our product?

Shopping is emotional. It has been proven time and time again, we shop based on the Limbic system in our brain. It is the part responsible for instant pleasure or immediate reward, and it reacts and responds much quicker than the Prefrontal Cortex which is the part of the brain which follows up, albeit very quickly, with the rational support for the decision we have just made. This understanding helps us explain why one promotion will work and another will fail. If you haven’t caught the shoppers’ emotional interest with something bigger than a functional “buy and win” then there are alternatives she will rather pay her attention to (in or out of your category).

When you fuse this with the fact that we know that levels of unplanned, impulse purchases are related to the type of shopping mission (i.e am I on my weekly shop or am I popping in specifically to buy those ‘hot roasted chickens’ that I know are on sale this week) allows us to start planning our in store messaging more smartly. Quite simply, if there is no joy/reward/connection with your message, the stack ‘em high, sell mimi nicklin‘em cheap school of thought will indeed capture short term, easy come, easy go shoppers, but it wont create any medium term impact and it won’t necessarily reengage her throughout the duration of the promotion. Your promotion may last 8 weeks but a purely functional offer is likely to capture her once during those multiple trips during the campaign period, and is less likely to encourage her to keep coming back for more.

There are of course ways we can override what is a very powerful, and subconscious, shopper brain and ensure that we fuse the joy we feel whilst shopping with very smart value rewards and hence drive repeat interest in the campaign and drive her relationship with the brand;

Firstly, if we are assuming, rightly so, that emotion drives instinctive response to communications, why is it that so often our POSM materials feature a whole host of words and price flashes and are devoid of imagery or lifestyle cues? A quick fix here would be to prioritise the visual over the words and to really consider what is the least you really need to say versus all the ‘stuff’ you want to say.

Secondarily, if we know she is looking for added value that makes her feel great, how do we shift from the purely financial gain to something that talks more to a lifestyle or emotional gain? For example, reframing a “buy one get one free” pizza promo message to “one for you and one for your hot date tonight” message. A small tweak that takes the message from ‘get this and save’ to “share a pizza with that hot guy and fall in love tonight” – okay that may be pushing it a bit for a pizza offer, but you get the idea!

Thirdly, understanding that the mindset she is in right now as she shops will have a huge impact on what she buys into and evaluates as worthwhile. Whilst first class tickets for a shopping trip in NYC will certainly grab her attention and pull her in, what can you support that with that rewards her now, as she shops, while she plans her today, her tomorrow, her next week? Instant cash prizes that will help soften the blow of the shopping bill? An offer to pay her electricity bill this week? Or an instant voucher sent by SMS that allows her R1,50 off that purchase right then and there? The balance between aspirational and instant is a key metric to get right if we are to balance the left and right side of her brain.

Finally, we can often intercept the habitual shopper journey by prompting forgotten or unrecognized needs and use our in store messaging to not just direct her to a financially beneficial promotion, but to actually remind her and direct her as to what she might, or did, want to buy. Prompt the consumer memory of a successful Sunday lunch or Wednesday game night supper with the family, and help her fulfil those happy occasions more easily, with superior value and of course, your brand. Stop her reaching for that same old packet of ‘store label’ chips and instead upgrade her to your family sharing pack of nachos based on the improvements it will bring to her Wednesday dinner occasion – happier kids, family moments to share and yes, subsequently a happy mom and shopper.

So, I state my case, that just as Disney ensures that as you approach the front gates of the Magic Kingdom you are hit with the incredible colours of thousands of flowers, the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and Disney songs playing in the background, there are ways that brand owners can use the tools available to them in store to evoke more joy, more emotional connection, more response from shoppers. Of course, its not quite as good as having a life sized Mickey Mouse give you a hug and offer you an instant signed photo, but when shopping for milk, bread and bottles of soft drink, it might just be the next best thing and you’ll gain her loyalty as well as her Rands.


mimiMimi Nicklin (@MimiNicklin) followed her passion and experience in the consumer, retail and shopper space from regional roles in Europe and Asia, to South African shores in 2010. Having led global brands through the line for Procter & Gamble, and two of London and Hong Kong’s top agencies, her background gives her an international perspective to add to her depth of SA understanding. She serves as strategic director and a partner at 34 Group. Mimi contributes the monthly “The Sell” column concerning shopper marketing to MarkLives.


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