June 11, 2020 / Consumer

Consumer Reassurance and Social Psychology in Store Design

The Sheridan&Co strategy team works alongside forward-thinking clients to help them segment their customer experiences to ensure different shopper types can connect with a brand. These segments depend on consumer and social psychology, behavioural traits, and the financial power of individuals. Segments are circumstantial and contextual. For instance, a recently graduated, beauty-obsessed, Tiktok-creating, Youtube vlog-watching young woman who is starting the first proper job in her career will engage with a beauty brand differently to a company CEO, mother of three adult children in her late fifties,  who would likely have far more disposable income.

What unites them could be their belief that beauty products empower them to feel good about themselves, whether that is a night with friends or a team meeting with others. They could both be environmentalists who seek to shop with sustainable brands. They could both reserve a certain amount of income every month specifically for beauty purchases. So, how does the same brand connect with these women who have different lifestyles, emotional demands and career expectations, yet are united by shared passions for beauty and the environment? Our answer – breaking down a shopper’s journey into consumer segments and developing touchpoints that resonate with both profiles.

Understanding the shopper’s journey as we reopen stores

It is now June 2020 and stores have begun to reopen in the UK for a post-Covid-19 world and new normal. What is consistent with life pre-Covid-19 is consumer psychology regarding experiences – they are still emotional and expectations are varied. One crucial factor that comes into our strategy to reset to reopen stores is the emotion of reassurance.

In simple terms, consumer levels of need for reassurance sit along a spectrum. At one end, we have consumers who cannot wait to resume shopping as a leisure pastime and to return to a physical space. They crave the freedom to engage with their favourite brands again and spend time away from home. On the other end of the spectrum, we have consumers who are hesitant and reluctant to risk venturing to stores to be confronted with long queues. Interestingly, in conversation with a sports retailer, we were given insight that the brand saw an increase in consumers purchasing products they were already familiar with and were less likely to venture out to try something new. So, somewhere in the middle, we have consumers who are confident to purchase products they already understand online but seek to discover new products in a physical store.

Reassurance through personalisation

By analysing social psychology surrounding reassurance in light of Covid-19, whether that is surrounding hygiene and safety, or the shopper journey and product discovery, we can shape a brand’s retail experience to accommodate and facilitate this emotional and physiological demand for reassurance. 

For consumers who are keen to return to a retail store but want to attain greater product knowledge before purchasing an item, brands are in a unique position whereby they can treat all consumers like VIPs due to the limited number of people allowed in the store. In the past, traffic control was not an issue, often brands would be in a position where they were unable to greet and help several customers at once. Now, consumers can have more personal conversations with sales advisors and have additional support and help when required.

Extending this sense of personalisation further for consumers who have previously browsed online for products they are already accustomed to, but seeking reassurance from product education from being in a physical space, brands can innovate by offering ‘bookable brand time’ in-store, allocating consumers a time slot to browse certain items. Brands can then curate this moment, offering suggestions based on previous purchase history and creating an experience that is more bespoke and tailored to specific needs.

The Queue Opportunity

For shoppers reluctant to face long queueing times, retailers have the opportunity to disrupt this experience by reimagining the experience of queuing itself and even redefine it as a process that adds value to the consumer’s overall brand experience. Brands should acknowledge that their retail experience starts whilst customers wait to get inside and now ask themselves how they can add more layers of storytelling, education, entertainment or additional services that make this process count. Understanding social psychology and the spectrum of reassurance needed will be critical for brands as they begin reopening stores and design new retail experiences.

Sheridan&Co is a strategic-led design agency that assists brands globally with creating consumer experience that not only connects with a brand’s story and mission but also acknowledges the importance of varying degrees of emotion when it comes to connection with a brand and their store.

If you would like to talk to us about your store experience in a post-Covid-19 climate, contact us at team@sheridanandco.com.