Time-of-day marketing touted as retail's saviour

New academic paper looking at how customers behave at different times of the day is aimed at helping retailers take a more tailored and data-driven approach to marketing

A new marketing approach based on recognising and responding to customer behaviour at different times of the day is being offered up as a way of revitalising the fortunes of high street retailers.

Associate professor in marketing and strategic management at the UK Warwick Business School, Dr Scott G. Dacko, has combined research from the sociology, geography, biology, physiology, psychology and marketing spheres into a new marketing strategy called ‘Time-of-day’, which he claims taps into the changing nature of the retail consumer over the course of the day.

His paper, Time-of-Day Services Marketing, was published in the Journey of Services Marketing.

According to Dr Dacko, Time-of-Day Services Marketing goes beyond customer segmentation and demographics by matching offerings to the way individuals behave and respond to information over the course of a 24-hour period.

“Through research in psychology and marketing, we can predict when different types of consumers will do their shopping,” he said. “By meshing this information together, I have put together a time-based marketing strategy that could boost a retail outlet’s typical daily performance.

“It could be as simple as providing breakfast-to-go foods like cereal bars alongside newspapers, to really building on your understanding of your customers’ demographics so you can alter a whole host of service variables and promotions to suit them.”

Dr Dacko claimed several retailers are only employing a tiny fraction of these tactics. Using a more time-of-day approach, retailers can adjust lighting, music, in-store promotions, offers and even staff to suit the type of customer likely to walk into their shop during the way.

As an example, Dr Dacko pointed out in-store displays can be easily changed to target different shopper backgrounds, and that pricing should be adjusted to be in-sync with various customer segments, such as three-for-two deals on different items.

“There are new unused tactics as well. From sociology, research has revealed ‘temporal symmetry’ where individuals feel a sense of togetherness in doing the same activity at the same time,” Dr Dacko continued. “For example, a betting shop could hold a ladies hour to attract women, amplifying the sense of togetherness.

“On the other hand, sociologists have also found some people fiercely cherish individualism, so several retailers are meeting this need by offering personal shopping appointments outside of store hours. “Each of these approaches can be potentially combined and implemented in a time-of-day-based retail marketing strategy.”

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According to the academic paper, understanding how and to what extent customers exhibit ‘morningness’ or ‘eveningness’ is a major factor in achieving more effective strategies at different times of the day. Dr Dacko points out older individuals exhibit detail processing and optimal retail behaviour more in the earlier part of the day, followed by schema-based processing in the afternoon.

On the other hand, younger individuals including young adults tend to shop in the afternoon, while time-pressured people shop later in the evening.

“Night owls are more creative, flexible and drink more coffee, while early birds are more conscientious, agreeable and emotionally stable,” Dr Dacko said. “This knowledge can guide companies’ marketing tactics to increase customer satisfaction through the provision of unique time-of-day service and product offerings.”

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