If you’ve ever wondered how important customer psychology is, the fact that it is its own discipline should clue you in. Understanding customer buying behaviors — the thought and emotional processes behind buying decisions, and the purchases that do or don’t result from them — is big business. But there’s also a wrong way to approach customer buying habits: to assume that they’re the same across the board, and in all surroundings. A retail pharmacy has some unique considerations you won’t find in other retail operations, and a shelving design consultation from Shelving Design Systems helps businesses make sense of them.
Why Understanding Matters
We’ll be brief. Peter Drucker sums it up aptly and succinctly: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” The better you understand your customer’s thinking, the better you’re able to meet her needs, and the easier it will be to hone in on pricing, marketing, and merchandising.
Obstacles to Understanding
The traditional model of customer behavior takes into account factors like price and the consequences of consumer decisions. However, as David Holdford points out, that model falls apart in practice. Customer decisions often come down to a nexus of economics, social influences, and personal experience — as well as the biases these things bring with them. The picture is further complicated by the circumstances under which someone visits your pharmacy, whether they’re a regular or a new customer, and their susceptibility to things like brand loyalty. Your efforts, then, take place in an environment that’s far less predictable than you’d like.
The Decision-Making Process
Thankfully, Holdford’s findings contain a bit of reassurance.There’s a three-stage process we can remember, and use not only to influence purchasing decisions but also to cultivate loyalty.
Prepurchase Stage: In which the customer recognizes a need, seeks information, and may also seek out corroborating evidence or second opinions
Consumption Stage: This is where the customer makes a choice of a product, brand, and vendor
Post Purchase Evaluation Stage: Here, the customer is looking back on their purchase to evaluate both the product and the buying experience
During this process, the customer is assessing multiple levels of risk, the perceived importance of the purchase, their level of engagement in the purchase relative to their engagement in their health and care, and the amount of control they feel they have over the process.
What lessons can we draw from all of this? To begin with, it’s worth remembering that buying decisions predate your customer’s visit to your pharmacy, and may continue long after they’ve left. It’s also worth bearing in mind that these decisions and considerations aren’t always, or aren’t entirely, conscious.
And if we’re paying attention, we can find ways to insert ourselves and our expertise into each stage of the process. Being a trusted source of information, offering a variety of products and keeping them accessible, and — perhaps most importantly — understanding the importance of follow-up as a means of building relationships and trust, can each be ways to guide customer thinking and the behavior that goes with it.