Living is an inherently emotional business, be it consuming goods, selecting our life partners, or choosing which career to pursue. Emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision making, as highlighted by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s research.
The same is true for decision making related to shopping. Our choice to purchase a product or service is the end result of an intricate emotional process, conscious and subconscious, influenced by our daily mood, immediate environment, sounds, smells, visual experiences, and social interactions.
Does the image promoting a brand make us feel nostalgic? Does the music in-store evoke happy memories? Does the sales assistant make us angry with relentless questions?
These are the types of questions that marketers should be exploring, because they do have an impact on shoppers’ emotions and consequently buying behavior.
Feeling stressed out?
It’s important to nurture positive emotions to enhance customer experience. However, at the same time it is the negative side of the emotional spectrum that needs to be well understood to eliminate the sources of anger, frustration, or disappointment — key negative emotions related to customer experience. The same applies to online customer journeys, where losing one’s temper can be witnessed through specific behaviors such as angry ‘rage clicking’ (furiously clicking on a link over and over out of annoyance), frustrated frantic scrolling, and confused haphazard journeys that don’t follow a logical page order. By observing such behaviors, and identifying their causes, marketers can start to remove the key stressors from their online customer journey.
Clicktale conducted research into over 2,000 consumers on the levels of stress occurring during online and offline shopping, and the causes of shoppers’ frustrations. The results are somewhat surprising. For example, as many as a fifth of UK consumers find shopping a stressful experience. Furthermore, 15% have lost their temper when shopping online or on a mobile app.
Despite customer experience being a central focus for modern marketers, there seems to be a range of ‘micro-stressors’ operating under the marketers’ radar, unaccounted for in customer feedback and invisible to mainstream analytics tools.
Feeling too awkward to consume
When digging into the various stressors causing uncomfortable emotions, the survey provided some further unusual insights. Consumers are sensitive to interactions taking place during online or in-store browsing. But the percentage of consumers reporting annoyance with in-store assistants is staggering — a whopping 83% are annoyed by them. Interestingly, this annoyance also translates online, with 65% of shoppers saying they feel stressed as a result of unhelpful product recommendations on ecommerce sites and mobile applications.
Finally, an emotion often overlooked as a source of buying decision-making is social awkwardness. A fifth (18%) of consumers have bought an item from a shop assistant to avoid saying no or having an uncomfortable conversation with retail staff.
It becomes evident that we know so much, and yet so little, about the emotional state of our audiences, and that retailers and brands need to work much harder to pick up on and address any ‘micro-stressors’ throughout their in-store and digital experiences.
By complementing traditional analytics tools with a layer of experience analytics, it is possible to develop more meaningful insights into consumer behavior, mindsets, shopping moods, and emotions. Taking these into account, as well as removing sources of negative emotions and stress will put brands in a much stronger position to build superior experiences and meet consumers’ changing needs.
View the full study, “Stress Shopping: The relationship between stress and shopping in digital experiences“.