Nav: Home

Privacy, please: Why surveiling shoppers can inhibit sales, and how to fix it

July 19, 2017

No shopper likes being watched closely, especially if they're buying an item they find very personal and potentially embarrassing - for instance, foot fungus cream or hemorrhoid cream. Three marketing professors recently conducted research on this phenomenon and concluded that the problem is real and is relatively easy for retailers to address.

In "I'll Be Watching You: Shoppers' Reactions to Perceptions of Being Watched by Employees," Carol L. Esmark and Michael J. Breazeale of Mississippi State University and Stephanie M. Noble of the University of Tennessee attribute the reluctance of shoppers to make a sensitive purchase under watchful eyes to reactance theory, which explains that when shoppers feel that their privacy or freedom of behavior is threatened, they will back off, either permanently or temporarily. Retailers must balance their need to control shoplifting with their customers' need for privacy. The article is forthcoming in the September issue of the Journal of Retailing.

The authors designed a series of studies and field experiments that tested shoppers' reaction to being watched while shopping for foot fungal cream and hemorrhoid cream. A researcher dressed as a retail employee purposely made eye contact - or not - as customers were surveying the shelves for these items. When eye contact was made, almost two thirds of the customers abandoned the purchase; when it was not made, nearly three quarters completed the buy.

In further studies, the authors tested solutions that would ease customers' concerns over privacy and yet be easy to implement for retailers - for instance, providing a shopping basket or opaque bag to hide the embarrassing selection. Based on their observations, the authors concluded that retailers who were able to provide shoppers with at least some privacy - even a shopping basket - could circumvent shoppers' perceptions of being watched and made so uncomfortable that they walked away empty-handed.
-end-


Journal of Retailing at New York University

Related Behavior Articles:

Is Instagram behavior motivated by a desire to belong?
Does a desire to belong and perceived social support drive a person's frequency of Instagram use?
A 3D view of climatic behavior at the third pole
Research across several areas of the 'Third Pole' -- the high-mountain region centered on the Tibetan Plateau -- shows a seasonal cycle in how near-surface temperature changes with elevation.
Witnessing uncivil behavior
When people witness poor customer service, a manager's intervention can help reduce hostility toward the company or brand, according to WSU research.
Whole-brain imaging of mice during behavior
In a study published in Neuron, Emilie Macé from Botond Roska's group and collaborators demonstrate how functional ultrasound imaging can yield high-resolution, brain-wide activity maps of mice for specific behaviors.
Swarmlike collective behavior in bicycling
Nature is full of examples of large-scale collective behavior; humans also exhibit this behavior, most notably in pelotons, the mass of riders in bicycle races.
My counterpart determines my behavior
Whether individuals grow up in a working-class environment or in an academic household, they take on behaviors that are typical for their class -- so goes the hypothesis.
A gene required for addictive behavior
Cocaine can have a devastating effect on people. It directly stimulates the brain's reward center, and, more importantly, induces long-term changes to the reward circuitry that are responsible for addictive behaviors.
Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
Chemists at the University of California, San Diego designed the first artificial protein assembly (C98RhuA) whose conformational dynamics can be chemically and mechanically toggled.
The neural circuitry of parental behavior
HHMI scientists have deconstructed the brain circuits that control parenting behavior in mice, and identified discrete sets of cells that control actions, motivations, and hormonal changes involved in nurturing young animals.
Parenting behavior in adoptive families
A new longitudinal study of adoptive families looked at whether symptoms of depression in adoptive fathers is also related to over-reactive parenting and behavior problems in children; the study also examined how social support networks affect parenting.
More Behavior News and Behavior Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.