Shopping Angst Revealed

I've got a theory about stress:  it's cumulative.  In other   
words, stress isn't about the two big things that constantly   
worry you.  You can handle the big problems if you're not   
constantly annoyed with the little ones.


One man who has studied the little stressors is Herb Sorensen,   
author of
Inside the Mind of the Shopper: The Science 
of Retailing
.  This book instructs retailers how to get you to   
buy more.  He describes two of the low-level shopping   
annoyances so retailers can avoid them.

That got me thinking; i
f we avoid retailers that strike up   
these annoyances, we'll reduce some of our low-level stress. 
 
Here are the two:

Navigational angst:
  This is when you go to a store and can't   
find things.  You have to search for an employee, interrupt   
what they're doing, and hope they'll be familiar with their   
workplace.

Stores design can help with this.  Obviously clearly marked   
aisles help, but so does low shelving.  If you can see the   
entire store, you'll have less navigational angst.
  This must   
be what CVS was thinking when they bought Osco and took down   
the high shelves.

Choice angst:  This comes from having too many items to pick from.  One   
study showed that shoppers bought ten times more when offered   
limited choice.  People spend less time in the aisle   
scratching their heads and more time buying.  This phenomenon   
can help explain the success of Trader Joes and Aldi. 
Less   
choice of one product = less stress.

Choice angst doesn't affect everyone, however.  I have one   
client who loves researching major purchases.  This was   
brought up by his wife, who reported that this tendency   
stressed her out.   I have a friend who is such a thorough   
researcher that I want her to start her own newsletter.  That   
way I can keep up on what she's buying and buy it too.   (As   
Estelle Reiner said in When Harry Met Sally, "I'll have what   
she's having.")


by Bridget Sullivan Mermel
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