Shop Whisperers

In a bid to increase sales and move targeted items, a supermarket chain in Florida have used human behavioural experts to devise a new way to encourage shoppers to choose their brands – Shop Whisperers.

“We found that our campaigns to bring people into the store were working well, but once they got in, we could not accurately direct them to the products we wished to sell,” says Director of Marketing Lopez D’Arouge, “It may be a local phenomenon, but the usual arsenal just couldn’t come up with the goods. Product positioning and signage just wasn’t getting the yield that we needed, so we had to try something completely different.”

Enter the Shop Whisperer, an employee trained to blend in as a shopper and make comments and gestures about particular products.

“Studies have shown that peer recommendation is one of the most powerful influencers. It can be a mother talking to her daughter, for example, saying, ‘Now that’s a good price. Normally these are way more expensive. I’ll get two!’ or a guy dressed in a suit muttering, ‘I hope they haven’t run out of X, because that’s what works.'” says D’Arouge, “It has to be contextual and unforced. Of course, we cannot get just anyone to do this.”

As a consequence, D’Arouge has budgeted for professional actors to play the part and the results are already telling. Based on a one month trial with three full time Shop Whisperers he has seen a ‘marked increase’ in the sales of targeted brands and items.

“Time will tell whether this is a permanent thing,” he says, “And I love the fact that we’re giving back to the community by hiring local actors who would otherwise be out of work. Who knows? If this takes off, we could see this as a legitimate career in not just supermarkets, but departments stores and specialty stores as well!”

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