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New Data Reveals Impulse Buying To Be Important Element Of Shopping Behavior

Digital signs give retailers a powerful way to communicate with retail shoppers as they act out on their impulses to buy unplanned-for items.

If there were ever a question about whether or not it makes sense to communicate with customers via digital signs in retail stores, a new survey from the Integer Group and M/A/R/C should leave no doubt.

According to The Checkout, an ongoing shopper behavior survey, nine out of 10 shoppers report buying an item not on their shopping list. The research reveals several reasons why. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported buying off-list items because of a special sale or promotion; 30 percent said they did so because of a coupon offer; and 23 percent said they wanted to pamper themselves.

Digital signs are a great vehicle for retailers to tap into the opportunity this consumer behavior presents. They are a natural when it comes to presenting special promotions. Ditto for coupons. They can be tied into coupon-dispensers or used to display virtual coupons based on QR codes that can be photographed with a mobile phone camera and displayed at the checkout stand. And they certainly are a powerful medium when it comes to presenting products in their best possible light to tap into the desire by many shoppers to pamper themselves.

Craig Elston, senior vice president with Integer summed it up this way: "Our data shows 61 percent of off-list shoppers purchase an additional one to three items. This shows that if you reach a particular shopper at the right moment with the right message --for example, using in-store signage to play into their desire to pamper themselves, it can end with that item being added to their basket."

For retailers, this sort of data is critically important as they evaluate their marketing budgets and make decisions about the return they can expect for their investment in digital signage technology. Without data on consumer buying behavior and how many more items shoppers are likely to buy, calculating an ROI equation of digital signage becomes an exercise focused on identifying costs of competing alternatives and determining which is the most attractive.

With findings like those presented in the latest Integer Group- M/A/R/C research, it is possible to add an evaluation of potential added revenue to the mix. It would be helpful in future studies if these researchers or others could compare the effectiveness of competing signage solutions, i.e. traditional printed signage, Duratrans backlit signs, digital signage and others. Insight into the average dollar value of additional items purchased would be helpful as well.

Even without that data, however, it's not a stretch to say that all things being equal, digital signage should produce the most attractive ROI in retail. After all, it is more responsive to changing messaging needs, is less expensive to use in terms of updating messages, and can be centrally controlled with local input to provide messaging consistency across retail chain locations while still offering an avenue for individual stores to respond to local needs.

The new Integer-M/A/R/C data should motivate retailers to re-examine how they are informing, educating and enticing consumers at the point of purchase. If dynamic messaging on digital signs in retail isn't part of the mix, retailers should reevaluate their approach to maximize their presence at the point where shoppers reach into their back pockets or purses and act on their impulse to buy.

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