Welcome to the the Ivey HBA Retail Marketing Management blog. Retail marketing is an exciting, dynamic, important, and very visible aspect of the overall field of marketing. Throughout the year, students will be posting comments regarding contemporary retailing issues. Although this is intended to be used by Bus 4411 students, industry marketing professionals are also invited to join in if they like.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Grocery Store Experiement: How to Please Your Customers

Discovering the variables that affect consumer decision making represents the holy grail of retailing in today’s world. In the article “How does Assortment Affect Grocery Store Choice?”, the authors purport to have done just that when it comes to discovering what consumers are looking for in grocery stores.

In a recent experiment, the authors tested several variables in what may affect consumer choices, such as store location, whether or not featuring advertising drove sales, and how assortment could affect purchasing decisions.

It became apparent that most important of these factors was store location, meaning that people are willing to spend more per item if the grocery store was located in close proximity to their home. Feature advertising was popular in affecting purchasing decisions on the part of loyal customers to the grocery store, but was not particularly effective in driving sales away from competitors. Also, assortment was important, but perhaps not in the way you’d assume; more SKUs actually confused consumers, and they’d prefer to have less SKUs in favor of a smaller assortment of products that add value to their purchasing decisions.

So what do these findings really mean for the retail industry? Retailers can carefully tailor their stores to consumers based on the desirability of the location in which they operate, the advertisements that they use to draw customers to particular products, and the products that they offer to make the customer’s shopping experience a pleasant and convenient one. After all, isn’t it the job of the retailer to customize it’s product offerings to the consumer?

It seems that lately, retailers have been focusing on what the competition is doing, rather than focusing on their internal strengths and weaknesses. In doing so, they manage to neglect the fact that they may be repeating the same fatal mistakes that the competition is making, and further frustrating the customer. It is important for retailers to listen to the consumer, make the appropriate changes to satisfy their needs and desires, and watch the money roll in the doors as they improve their operations.

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