Retailers failing to deliver advertising promises

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Consumers frustrated by out-of-stock products and unreliable staff.

Numerous retail brands are failing to deliver on the image they present in their advertising and marketing, suggests a survey of British shoppers released today by shopper marketing agency Live & Breathe.

Half of people polled said they looked forward to going to a store because of the image it portrayed, only to find it didn’t always have publicised products available. Another 38 percent said staff didn’t live up to the store image, and 44 percent found the quality of products disappointing.

The research comes from Live & Breathe’s survey Going Shopping: Are You Being Served? whcih questioned 3,000 British shoppers. Results showed there was a big difference between retailers’ marketing promises and the reality of the shopping experience.

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In addition, more than 35 percent of people have at some point refused to go into a store at all because they did not want to be seen as a customer of that brand.

The survey polled a nationally representative sample of male and female British shoppers from across the UK. A lack of product availability was cited by 55 percent of women as the main problem with stores not living up to their image, with a further 50 percent disappointed by product quality. A total of 38 percent of women said store staff didn’t live up to the image portrayed by retailers.

Similarly, 45 percent of men said a lack of availability was a problem, with 38 percent disappointed by product quality. 

The most common problem shoppers encounter regularly in stores is long queues. A total of 48 percent said queuing to pay for items is a problem. Crowded shop floors (36 percent), shop floor temperature (33 percent), not being able to find staff and unhelpful staff (25 percent) make up the top five problems shoppers regularly encounter.

Queues were slightly less of a problem for men, with 45 percent frustrated by big queues compared to 50 percent of women, though women were slightly better equipped to deal with crowded shop floors – 33 percent of women said this was a regular issue, compared to 40 percent of men.

A lack of crowds and queues is the best thing about online shopping, according to 45 percent of those surveyed. Men were also found to be more likely to search online to find a product at cheaper price compared to in-store.

Nick Gray, managing director of Live & Breathe, said: "With so much emphasis on advertising and marketing a brand, it can be easy for retailers to forget that the work really begins once you get people to enter your store. Shopper experience is reliant on them not being let down anywhere along their path to purchase from sofa to store."

Gray added: "This research shows just how important it is to ensure stores live up to the brand image – if shoppers are not satisfied with what they find, they will move on somewhere else, either to a competitor’s high street offer or online. It is a far harder task to persuade them to return."

Gray also suggests that, given the some thought and store investment, retailers can easily position themselves to deliver over and above their marketing promises. "The winners are the retailers that balance brand with store performance and don’t take the UK’s savvy and fickle shoppers for granted!", explained Gray.

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