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Time-of-day marketing could boost High Street

By Retail Technology | Thursday November 7 2013

New strategy could help revitalise the UK High Street’s flagging fortunes by reintroducing personal customer service for shoppers in High Street stores

A new marketing strategy, known as ‘time-of-day services marketing,’ is looking to bring the personal touch back to shops and create a unique experience for every variety of shopper.

Dr Scott Dacko of Warwick Business School has used the latest research from the fields of sociology, geography, biology, physiology, psychology and marketing to put together the across-the-day marketing strategy for retailers.

Dr Dacko, associate professor of marketing and strategic management, said: “I have brought together a wide range of practices and techniques that will help firms match better the totality of their offerings with the needs of substantially different customer segments to help them create a competitive advantage.”

Real-time refinement of experience instore

Using 'time-of-day services marketing', Dr Dacko maintains that retailers can adjust their lighting, music, instore promotions and offers during the day to suit the type of customer that is likely to walk into their shop. “Through research in psychology and marketing, we can predict when different types of consumers will do their shopping,” he explained. “By meshing this information together, I have put together a time-based marketing strategy that could boost a retail outlet’s typical daily performance.

“It can be as simple as providing breakfast-to-go foods like cereal bars alongside newspapers, to really building on your understanding of your customers’ demographics so you can alter a whole host of service variables and promotions to suit them,” he continued.

Dr Dacko added that some retailers are using a “tiny fraction” of these various tactics. “But nobody has put them all together for a comprehensive ‘time-of-day services marketing' strategy, which is what my research has done,” he added.

In his paper, Time-of-Day Services Marketing published in the Journal of Services Marketing, Dr Dacko points out that companies have to get to know the different types of customers that use its services and adjust their marketing through the day accordingly – using a knowledge of ‘segmentation’ based marketing principles but at a level that goes beyond simple demographics.

For example, Dr Dacko’s research has found that older people, unemployed, ‘non-time pressured’ people, ‘variety-seekers’ and families with small children are more likely to be morning shoppers. Women as well tend to shop more in the morning than men.

On the other hand, youngsters and young adults, people looking for a new experience, those without ‘time-pressure’ and who have no small children tend to shop in the afternoon and busy, ‘time-pressured’ people tend to shop later in the evening.

Reacting to shopper segments dynamically

“A retailer can adjust both its strategy and tactics dynamically throughout the day to be in tune with potentially important but not readily observed customer characteristics,” said Dr Dacko. “For instance ‘night owls’ are more creative, flexible and drink more coffee, while early birds are more conscientious, agreeable and emotionally stable. This knowledge can guide companies’ marketing tactics to increase customer satisfaction through the provision of unique time-of-day service and product offerings.

“They can alter their environment, pricing, promotions and even staff for the different shoppers that tend to frequent their stores in the largest numbers at different times of the day,” he added. “’Time-of-day service marketing' allows shops to deliver an across-the-day service tailored to different sets of customers.”

Retailers can then adjust combinations of services – for example, music, scent and lighting to appeal to different shopper backgrounds throughout the day. Even striving to match through scheduling the age range of staff with certain customer groups can improve rapport according to the research, like having the most knowledgeable staff on the shop floor when the most discerning and usually older customers appear.

Other implications include instore displays, such as TV screens, can be changed to target the different shopper ‘backgrounds’ during the day, and pricing adjusted to be in-sync with various customer segments, like three-for-two deals on different items throughout the day. Also unconventional practices and offers can be made for ‘time-pressured’ shoppers like pre-ordering certain items at the start of their in-store shop.

Dr Dacko added: “There are new unused tactics as well. From sociology, research has revealed ‘temporal symmetry’ where individuals feel a sense of togetherness in doing the same activity at the same time. For example a betting shop could hold a ladies hour to attract women, amplifying the sense of togetherness.

“On the other hand, sociologists have also found some people fiercely cherish individualism, so some retailers are meeting this by offering personal shopping appointments outside of store hours.

“Each of these approaches can be potentially combined and implemented in a time-of-day-based retail marketing strategy,” he concluded.

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