18 August 2006


If we are what we buy, then we are also what we say and do when we buy them. In short, we are how we behave, typically, at a point of purchase such as a retail store.

This aspect of buyer behaviour has fascinated marketers, merchandisers, interior designers, psychologists, economists, sociologists, anthropologists and others for some time now. Shoppers have been stalked at stores and shopping malls; they have been interviewed and surveyed; and even secretly video-taped. Because, not only do marketers want to know the answer to what we buy, they also want to know how and why we buy them, and when and from where.

There are volumes written on the subject of consumer behaviour, some of it actually discussing consumer behaviour at a point of purchase, which is what matters a lot to marketers and brand managers. A portion of this smaller universe has an even smaller universe – an area of specialisation, you might say – dealing with the subject of how our basic nature influences our buying behaviour, typically, at a point of purchase like a retail store or a shopping mall.

This relatively new subject deals with techniques – and, of course, the theory that goes along with them – on how to create greater consumer and brand experiences in a retail environment. Once again, much has been written about consumer experiences in the retail environment, but not a great deal that actually considers our individual personalities in relation to the retail stores we visit and buy from. The hypothesis, that our basic personality type can determine our buying behaviour, is a relatively new one.

In the past, most of the discussions on buying behaviour have been on demographic profiles of consumers and their lifestyles. It’s only recently that marketers, designers, psychologists, etc. have got together and tried to understand the deeper emotional connection that exists between consumers, the brands they buy and the places they buy these brands from. Easier said than done! The question is, how do we measure consumer emotional experience?

Since this subject interests me as well, I was delighted to receive an email from Mette Kristine Oustrup, detailing some of the work that she is doing in this area. Ms Oustrup, an inspiration behind MOOD theory, calls this fascinating subject ‘Elemental Experience Design’ (EED) and has built her recent work around it. To find out more about Mette Kristine Oustrup and EED, why not visit her website or download the latest from her elemental experience?

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