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Understand Shoppers' Attitudes

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on September 9, 2010

Making a sale often requires that you and your staff change shoppers’ negative attitudes into positive ones. According to research from University of Michigan, a shopper is usually asking themselves one or more of three types of questions when their attitudes influence their purchases:

1. "How easily can I make this purchase decision?" For example, if customers have had a bad experience with a particular brand, keeping a negative attitude toward everything carrying that brand name can make decision-making easier for them. If you want to change this attitude, you need to persuade customers to consider the particular item they had a problem with to be an exception, rather than the rule.

2. "How well does this item express the values I pride myself on having and showing?" For instance, if shoppers ask where an item was produced, maybe they place special importance on buying what’s made in their own country or on avoiding items that might be manufactured under bad conditions. If you suspect that the shopper’s values are getting in the way of making the purchase, ask, "What’s important to you when considering a product like this?" Next, analyze the answers in terms of values. Is the shopper talking about loyalty? Power and strength? Safety and security? Trust? Perseverance? Playfulness? Craftiness? Friendships? Something else altogether? Then weave messages about those values into your presentation of the product or service to the shopper.

3. "What more do I want to know about this item before I’m comfortable with it?" Some negative attitudes arise when the customer isn’t sure what to do in an unfamiliar situation. Ask, "What questions may I answer for you about this product?" It also can be useful to take away some of the pressure, while not letting the customer leave altogether, by saying, "I can help you find some of the other items you’re shopping for here today, and then we can come back to considering this one."

Bruce D. Sanders, PhD
Consulting psychologist
Vacaville, Calif.

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