The Philippine retail landscape is tough. Gone are the days when
consumers would have to trek to specific malls in busy metropolises.
There are now malls everywhere, and thousands of stores to boot. For
convenience, online shopping is the way to go, considering the state
of traffic around the metro. With the retail industry entering new
frontiers in the digital sphere, brands now have a harder time than
ever standing out from the discerning crowd.
As the CEO of
CBRE Asia Pacific, Rick Santos, stated, “The retail market in the
Philippines is, and still continues to, mature. Filipinos are now
after the overall retail experience, choosing malls and outlets that
give them the power of choice—whether in food and beverage or
clothing and the like.”
In the gamut of noise, it is no
longer enough to provide a good retail experience. To truly make a
good impression, brands must have an amazing presence at every stage
of the customer journey: whether online or off of it. And one
effective way to do so is to provide what they want—even before they
know they want it.
The Art of Thin-Slicing
In Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal
2008 book, Blink, he discusses the phenomenon of thin-slicing to
explain the importance of first impressions. It is defined as the
“ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and
behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.”
differently, it is the human inclination to perform snap, accurate
judgments despite limited data. From the accurate prediction of
lasting marriages to the identification of forged art, thin-slicing
is the phenomenon driving a lot of our decision-making—sometimes
without us even knowing.
As marketers and retail leaders,
managers very well understand the implications of such fast and
frugal decisions. With the intense retail competition at stake,
consumers frequently make irrational yet valid purchasing decisions
based on a handful of factors they weren’t even aware they were
From deciding not to buy from a site because it
seems too cluttered to staying longer in a shop because the music is
nice, hundreds of components can influence the overall decision of a
customer in the fraction of a second.
From a business
standpoint, this scenario spells two opportunities for the ambitious
retailer: one, it provides plenty of chances to continuously improve
the retail experience; and two, it opens up a wealth of data about
Since thin-slicing has such a strong
impact on customer decisions, utilizing it as a strategy to
understand customers could be just as effective in convincing them
The question is: how?
With limited resources,
how can retail brands use limited market research so they can
accurately predict what the consumer would want? Instead of
leveraging market research companies, are there market research
tools available instead that could be just as effective?
Surveying Shoppers and Salespersons
technology can now play a helpful factor in this search. In the
Philippine market alone, several retail brands have learned to adopt
shorthand strategies that yield meaningful insights.
casual dining scene, the Bistro Group has learned to utilize
thin-slicing to their advantage: dine in most of their branches—from
TGI Friday’s to Italianni’s—and you will experience a quick yet
incentivized push from your server to answer a survey.
Through mobile marketing, these surveys capture short yet sweet
feedback from customers with the promise of dessert. Even without
spending thousands for expensive market data, Bistro Group’s retail
and marketing managers can already get a sense-check of how the
market feels—from their food to their service.
With the aid
of real-time technology, they can adjust their strategy accordingly
and speedily. Given their continuous expansion plans up to this
date, it seems that this strategy is working for the casual dining
Another great example of utilizing a narrow amount of
data to make accurate, powerful predictions is the well-known
practices of Zara. Currently considered as one of the largest
(billion-dollar) fashion brands in the world, the Spanish-based
apparel behemoth has an unusual yet effective strategy when it comes
to being faster than the market.
As the famous story goes, in
2015, a shopper named Miko in Tokyo entered Zara asking the store
assistant for a pink scarf. At almost the exact same time, Michelle
in Toronto, Elaine in San Francisco, and Giselle in Frankfurt all
asked for a pink scarf—but sadly, to no avail.
strategy of consistently asking store managers what customers liked,
didn’t like, and looked for, they were able to string together
small, simple bursts of in-store experiences across disjointed
countries into a single, powerful insight: Zara fans wanted pink
scarves, and they wanted them now.
Seven days later, over
2,000 Zara stores around the world started selling pink scarves, and
in three days, all 500,00 pink scarves were sold out. Clearly,
coupling the stellar operational efficiency that Zara is known for
with the effective utility of thin-slicing proves a winning
combination for the brand. Zara’s case is a prime example of how
market research analysts need not have complex data to be accurate
in helping the bottom line.
Utilizing Blink Principles In Your Store
many retail brands can utilize these effective strategies in their
own stores: with the help of GoCanvas, managers can effectively
create customized forms that gather data in the cloud. With
carefully thought-out questions, salespeople and shoppers alike can
be incentivized to answer simple surveys that provide real-time
data. Ranging from customer service to product feedback, retailers
and marketers can work together to produce meaningful questions
tailored to provide powerful, thin-slice insights with the push of a
Whatever your industry is, marrying technology with the
principles of psychology will always provide exponential results to
retailers and managers alike. And at Globe Business, we’re excited
to see where your journey leads to next.