The Use of Observational Technology to Study In-Store Behavior: Consumer Choice, Video Surveillance, and Retail Analytics
In in-store experimental analysis the store is the main laboratory. The paper provides an introduction to the research program aimed at improving the research practices in this laboratory, with a particular emphasis on the importance of behavioral data and the new opportunities that technology offers. In this modern day complicated “Skinner box” there are sets of well-studied stimuli – behavior interactions that constantly adapt to the latest economic environment and as such constantly stretch the boundaries of behavior analytic theory. But the retail setting is also of high importance to applied behavior analysis working on such issues as health, debt, environmental conservation, animal welfare, self-control and consumer protection in general. The paper presents a research strategy that emphasizes key environmental touch points throughout the customer journey in grocery retailing. We showcase the latest development by examining a particular research case by discussing the need for a behavioral economic understanding of the grand opening act of the grocery theater; the consumer choice of an in-store product carrying equipment (e.g. cart, basket or nothing). The conceptual system consists of a four-term contingency framework (molecular) as well as a more molar approach with conversion rate modeling where actual choice behavior is detected through video-surveillance. The data is analyzed using a Shopper Flow© Tracking System where the software is designed both to give automatic data on shopper behavior and to assist human observers in tracking individual shopping trips. We discuss behavioral classifications, methodology and implications related to the data from consumer tracking efforts.
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in The Behavior Analyst. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://doi.org/10.1007/s40614-017-0121-x