Picture Prattle: Help Yourself

1 Oct

When I came across this sign in an accessories store in LA I had to give the store owner a nod of approval. The store’s gimmick was that everything was $10- but then you could get an extra 30% off. There were banners plastering the windows declaring the $10 price point, guys standing on the street wearing sandwich signs that proclaimed 30% off those $10, etc. But once my friend and I entered the actual store, we saw that you had to use a basket to get the 30% discount. No basket and you’d pay the full $10 for your goods.

I turned to my friend and said something along the lines of “wow, this store’s owner is pretty clever.” As I started to explain why, the store owner himself overhead and came to join in our conversation. I have to say, he was pretty proud of himself. But he was also excited to talk to someone who figured out his trick. You see, giving shoppers baskets while they shop has been proven to increase the basket size of their purchase. Basket size refers to the average amount that a shopper spends in a specific store, and it goes up when shoppers start to buy more items or if they start to buy more expensive items. In this case, the store owner was going for “more items.” He knew that if you free up a shopper’s hands, the shopper is more likely to buy more than what was originally planned. Think about it: if you are just wandering a grocery store without a basket, you eventually have to stop shopping because your hands are full. As your hands run out of space, you are less likely to try to grab more merchandise. But if you have a cart, you can do a lot more wandering and grabbing before you “have” to stop. My coworkers and I always use basket size as a metric when we help retailers figure out how to increase their overall revenue. Similarly, this accessories store owner had figured out that if he offered a discount contingent upon using a basket, he still came out ahead. Even though he was now giving people a 30% discount , they were buying so much more than planned that he was still the winner.

The owner and I had a nice little chat about tricks in merchandising and store organization. Then my friend and I browsed his shelves. The basket effect didn’t quite work on the two of us because we picked out what we wanted before grabbing a basket. But we did technically use a basket to carry our picks to the register- we wanted our 30% off!

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4 Responses to “Picture Prattle: Help Yourself”

  1. bdole October 5, 2011 at 2:05 AM #

    You beat the system (sort of)! Congratulations on only buying what you intended to buy. I’m a big fan of entering a store – especially a department store – and walking out having bought nothing. It makes me think I’ve beat the capitalist system, in some way.

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  2. Felicia October 5, 2011 at 8:41 AM #

    Ha! Well his “Everything $10” sign did get us in the door. A sign like that makes you feel more comfortable entering because it sounds like there is a low limit to to what you might spend, even though you could obviously buy 8 things and end up with an $80 bill. But then once we were in the store we managed to restrain ourselves from throwing everything in sight in our baskets.

    See what happens next time you go to the grocery store. I’m sure you’re really good at resisting jeans and ties at the department store, but do you buy more impulse products at the grocery store if you have a big basket with you?

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  3. bdole October 5, 2011 at 1:12 PM #

    Actually, the ties and other ‘shiny things’ in department stores are hard to resist. I spend a lot of time staring at belts and wallets, but I only have one of each of those, so I guess I succeed.
    My collection of pens, pencils, and notebooks is a little excessive, but really, someday I might need to write something.
    In a grocery store, I generally don’t take a cart, and don’t buy more than a few things at once (and don’t go often).

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  4. Felicia October 5, 2011 at 1:43 PM #

    Well done! I’m incredibly good at resisting impulse groceries and impulse clothes but I will admit the category where I am most likely to buy something on a whim is cheap jewelry, i.e. the situation listed above. Economy analysts tend to talk about makeup as females’ usual “mini treats”- things they buy when they want a little something but don’t want to spend a lot – I had actually been thinking about writing a post on that!

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