Did you know that our brains actually operate differently than they did a decade ago? If this idea makes you a little uncomfortable, that’s understandable. Change is unnerving even when it doesn’t involve our bodies. And the idea of rewiring our brains sounds weird and borderline sci-fi horror movie. But change is also inevitable and the nine-ish hours a day American adults are spending in front of a screen of one kind or another, often skimming headlines, pivoting between multiple tabs, even between multiple screens, and actively dividing and indexing their attention has changed the way we’re wired to think and act.
And when we shop, or do anything else for that matter, the quality of that experience, what we’re hoping to achieve, how much time we’re willing to allocate, and what we’re taking away emotionally, intellectually, and sensually, has evolved from the ways we felt, thought, and sensed not that very long ago. This is not science fiction; it’s fact.
Recently, WNYC’s New Tech City reported a story called The ‘Bi-literate’ Brain: The Key to Reading in a Sea of Screens. The story is incredibly interesting and, as the title implies, the focus is on the way we read and retain information. Old school reading was linear, deep, concentrated. Screen reading, even screen reading of e-books, it turns out, darts around, leads to less retention, and is easily interrupted. To function best, we can adapt a bi-literate brain that can pivot between the two types of reading as needed. But it turns out a bi-literate brain is not that easy to maintain. Screen brain is taking over because brains find skimming so much easier.
This is a topic big enough for an e-book and doesn’t have loads to do specifically with retail, so we’ll leave the science at that and jump over to how this does relate to how we do other things in life, like purchasing goods and services. The act of shopping, like the act of reading, doesn’t actually come naturally to human beings. As Mike Rosenwald, of the Washington Post, states in the WNYC story, “We don’t have any genes for reading. You know, reading is an acquired skill that the brain learns. We have genes for vision and recognizing characters; but the idea of reading is not something the brain comes with.” The same goes for decision making, budget balancing, time management, and matters of taste, all elements that affect what and how we make purchases.
Our premise here is pretty simple. There are now two distinct kinds of shopping and the way our brains work when we’re doing one (in person) versus the other (electronically) is different - different pace, different attention span, and with a different value focus. Certain types of purchases are going to simply warrant a slower shopping experience than can be found on a screen. Just as a brain toggles between slow-linear and fast-screen reading; a shopper toggles between slow/experiential and fast/data-point shopping. Some purchases lend themselves easily to fast shopping. But some really don’t. How something smells, feels in your hand or against your skin, catches the light… these are factors nearly impossible to convey except in person.
And so your brain visiting your favorite store’s website is actually acting differently than your brain would if you were looking at the exact same products inside of your favorite store. Different synapses are firing; different senses are being engaged. Your considerations are different. Your decision on what to purchase may very likely be quite different.
Coming to terms that this distinction exists in our newly bi-literate brains means we aren’t each just shoppers anymore. Hardly anyone anymore is “just a shopper”. We are, in fact, two different shoppers. Understanding the new Bilateral Shopper is going to be key to the future of retail because the retail evolution is just that, an evolution, and there has to be room for both.
- Manifesting Your Brand into a Physical Space: Focusing on the Customer Experience
- How C-Stores Are Stealing Customers from Grocery Stores
- CSP: 25 Great C-Store Designs
- PG Web Extra: Design Secrets of Fairway’s Georgetown Store
- What Are Your C-Store Consistency Challenges? We Want To Know.
- 2017 Liquor Law Changes: How Has Your State Been Affected?
- 2016 Consumer Study: Online, In-Store, and Everything In-Between
- Grocery Business - The Store of the Future
- VMSD - 2016 Look Book
- Shopper Insights Study: Close Look at Fast Food Restaurants
- Décor Reseller - How POP Displays Contribute to a Store's Success
- Progressive Grocer - Design Plus
- Photos From KRS & Kroger's 2015 Cincinnati Shoptalk (ARE)
- VMSD - Mile High Style
- Retail Touchpoints - Special Report
- KRS Expands Creative Team
- Store Brands Magazine - Give Them Reasons to Return
- The New Retail Frontier - Adding Locations Is Just One of Many Options
- 2015 Consumer Study: Evolving Attitudes On When, Where, and How We Shop
- Shopper Insights Study: Close Look at Convenience Stores
- Study: Tapping Into the Value of Farmers Markets
- Convenience Store News - Refueling Center of the Future
- VMSD - 2015 Look Book
- KRS Expanding East With Cincinnati Design/Build Office
- Innovating the Box - KRS Speaking at Furniture Today Leadership Conference
- KRS Speaking at SEGD, DC. Solving the Designer's Dilemma
- Retail Leader - 2014 Trends Survey, From Recession to... Who Knows?
- Business Insider - What the Grocery Store of the Future Will Look Like
- KRS Hitting Chicago Like a Produce Truck
- Convenience Store News - Exclusive
- Retail Design Institute - 43rd Annual Int'l Store Design Awards
- Study: Traditional Retail Categories Are Blurring
- CSNews - Store of the Month Green Zebra
- Texas Tradition Meets Whole Foods Attitude in Dallas
- Video Tour - 2013 Retail Design Award Winners
- Chain Store Age - Stores of the Future
- VMSD - 2014 Look Book
- Retail Design Blog - Green Zebra Portland
- ROI of Store Design - Integrity in Rollout
- CSNews - Store of the Month MyGoods Market Takes Flight
- Happy Holidays From KRS
- Retail Leader - Make Way for the Millennials
- JWT Intelligence - Retail Rebooted
- B of A Small Business - Culture, Fit, and Aptitude
- ROI of Store Design - Space Planning & Design
- Progressive Grocer - 2013 Retail Design Awards
- ROI of Store Design - Branding
- Designing the Future
- C-Store Canada - Design for the Bottom Line
- Viability of Blurring Retail Categories
- Retail Leader - Channel-Blurring, Price-Matching
- DDi - GlobalShop Speaker Sound Bites
- CEO Blog Nation - Should You be a Business Rebel?
- Portland State Panel: Tomorrow's Leaders
- Starbucks Awards KRS Team
- New H.Y. Louie Concept: Fresh St. Market in West Vancouver
- The Register-Guard - Where Craft is King
- The Incredible Shrinking Expansion
- VMSD - The Goods
- Business Insider - Store of the Future
- SoLoMo Webinar - Marketing 2.0 for Retailers
- Entrepreneur - A Sneak Peek at the Store of the Future
- Non-Traditional Retailers Creating Retail Experience
- Understanding Today's Shopper
- Study: Consumer Response to Environment
- Progressive Grocer, ARE, and others cover KRS' Consumer Survey
- Design Lodge - Influence the Customer, Dominate the Market
- Andrew's Chicago Restaurant Picks for IRDC
- Retail Leader - How Much is a Facelift Worth?
- Pizza Today - The Price of a Remodel
- One Step Retail Solutions - Feature
- Travel + Leisure - America's Worst Airports
- Progressive Grocer - June 2017: Store of the Month, Fairway