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Retailers Using Science To Shape Shopping Experience

BOSTON (CBS) - Retailers are trying to get into customers' brains and they now have the technology to do it. It's called consumer neuroscience and companies are getting valuable shopper intel that can shape the shopping experience.

To get a firsthand look we went shopping at Betsy Jenney on Newbury Street with Dr. Carl Marci of Boston-based Innerscope Research. I was given glasses with a special camera to track my eye movements and sensors were attached to my fingers to keep tabs on the electricity in my skin.

"What we are collecting here are things we are not very good at articulating with words," explains Dr. Marci. Things a shopper doesn't even realize are happening subliminally and subconsciously.

In the seconds before we knowingly decide to buy our brains react. If retailers can tap into those few seconds of subconscious they can use the information to make crucial decisions on how to sell stuff. "If we present that stuff in an engaging and fun way then people have a better experience and sometimes they buy more," says professor of neuromarketing, Paul Zak.

"There is no buy button in the brain and we are not talking about manipulation. We are talking about using tools to help create a better retail experience," says Dr. Marci.

And that's why many companies are now hiring research firms to help with store strategy. Like moving a sale sign from the ceiling to eye level, deciding which outfits to put on the mannequin, or placing marked down items next to the full price rack.

At Betsy Jenney one-on-one customer service is key. But, for bigger stores neuroscience could be the new norm. "As the digital world is taking off more competition in traditional brick and mortar stores they have to do something to compete," says Dr. Marci. And the new playing field is our own subconscious.


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