The psychology of shopping

Shopping is all about making choices and knowledge of cognitive psychology can help retailers create shopping environments that encourage purchase. It can identify new science-based research techniques that can also help the retailer identify subconscious shopper needs.

At first glance, shopping seems a fairly straightforward activity. The shopper visits a shop, chooses an item from the goods on display, pays, and goes home happy. Not too difficult – and everybody wins.

Is this what I want?

What if the shopper couldn’t find exactly what they wanted – but made do with the second best option as they were in a hurry? They will probably be disappointed – with both the purchase and with the shop. What about the retailer, who might have been able to charge more for the right item, and who may have lost a loyal customer? A reasonable response is to suggest that the retailer should have stocked a wider range of items, providing his customer with more choice. However, this would have caused the shopper to spend more time searching through the new wider range – and they were in a hurry!

Shopping is all about making choices, and choosing requires an individual to process information. The more quickly shoppers can process a display of goods, the faster they will find a suitable item to buy; their chances of making an additional, unplanned purchase also increase. So, how can a retailer organise its stock within the available retail space to help customers find suitable products efficiently? Cognitive psychology has been described as the “study of human mental processes and their role in thinking, feeling and behaviour”. An understanding of these mental processes can be immensely helpful when setting retail strategy and designing retail space. In particular, it is helpful to understand how people pay attention, as attention is a limited resource. and designing retail space. In particular, it is helpful to understand how people pay attention, as attention is a limited resource.

Four steps to design an effective retail space

STEP 1: Organising the space

Organising the space Over time, shoppers develop a “cognitive map” of how they expect different shops to be laid out. This map is based on experience. The cognitive map of a shop we visit regularly will probably be quite accurate; however, we also rely on such maps to navigate unfamiliar stores or find products we buy infrequently. The cognitive map is made up of expectations, especially regarding adjacencies – which groups of products will be nearest each other.

(Effective retail space is arranging products into groups)

By understanding these expectations, we can develop a segmentation strategy – a plan for arranging products into groups and deciding where they are positioned. Segmentation is fundamental to creating a shopper-friendly shop. At total shop level, it enables the retailer to split its total stock into departments and categories. Within categories, it allows the arrangement of individual products into subgroups.

STEP 2: Defining the fiel of interest

People are naturally inquisitive and our subconscious is constantly seeking out items of interest from the world around us. It’s no different in-store, where it is common for the shopper’s eyes to scan from product to product along a shelf or display. There is a danger that shoppers may become distracted and forget to buy the item they came for. Stores can limit this by clearly demarking where categories begin and end. There are many ways of doing this, including the use of hanging point-of-scale to act as ‘bookends’ which re-direct shoppers’ eyes back to the original product of interest.

STEP 3: Prioritise items on display

Attention is a limited resource; it makes sense to think carefully about those items we really want shoppers to see. Just what these special items are will depend on a shop’s retail strategy and brand positioning. A discount shop may want its customers to notice items offering excellent value for money; another shop might want to display items delivering an above margin return. Whatever the policy, the key is to remember that shoppers cannot look at everything, and to think carefully about setting and activating priorities.

STEP 4: Excite and engage

Shoppers are not always rational and can rely on emotions when making a purchase.  Happy shoppers buy more. Steps 1 and 2 above are important in creating a positive mind-set. A well-planned display saves time elevates mood, and generally allows the individual to feel they are a ‘savvy shopper’.

Placing shoppers in a positive frame of mind can also be achieved by adding levels of theatre to a shop or display; however, this comes with a warning, too much theatre can be confusing and distracting – adding to complexity and making the shopping trip difficult. There is a sweet point where theatre maximises engagement and enjoyment (and therefore propensity to purchase) without causing confusion.

Researching the shopper

Much shopper behaviour is controlled by subconscious processes. An experienced shopper is able to navigate a store and identify products and brands quickly and efficiently, without paying too much attention.

Written by  Jan Kristensen, Visuality Group



Types of driveway materials

8 Dec 2017 

First and foremost, the driveway needs to withstand the load of vehicles and provide easy access between the road and where the vehicle is stored. A driveway that will give way to the pressure of traffic can damage the property and car, and lead to increased maintenance costs; a driveway that makes it difficult to enter and exit the property can prove a daily hassle.

In addition to providing practical benefits, a driveway must be attractive to preserve the look and value of the property. After all, it does occupy a large portion of the property’s frontage and plays a large role in forming people’s impression of the house.

When considering the costs of installing a new driveway always factor in the ongoing maintenance costs. Some driveway materials are expensive to install, but require little by way of maintenance; others need ongoing maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Below you’ll find articles on the materials most commonly used for driveways


Concrete driveways


A concrete driveway

What is a concrete driveway?

A concrete driveway is made of aggregate (stones and gravel) bonded together by cement. The aggregate used can vary in size and appearance.

Concrete does have a bit of reputation of being drab, but its appearance can be livened up with the addition of coloured stones, concrete paint, or the application of stencils to create the appearance of pavers.

What’s the best use?

Concrete driveways are suitable for a wide range of applications, as the surface can be adapted for practical (i.e. different finishes for grip) and aesthetic needs (concrete can be finished in a number of colours or engraved).

What maintenance is required?

With a high quality installation, concrete needs very little maintenance. Ensure spills of oil, grease or petrol are removed as soon as possible to prevent stains forming and reseal the concrete every two years and your drive should look good for at least a decade, if not longer.


What are the minimum and maximum grades?

To ensure water drains, concrete driveways should have a fall of at least one percent away from the house and towards the street.

The grade should not exceed 1:4 within the property boundary. Note that in some areas, there are restrictions on how steep a driveway can be; be sure to check with your local council about these limitations.

Do concrete driveways need steel reinforcing?

Concrete driveways can be constructed without steel reinforcing, as it does not increase or decrease the load capacity – it merely prevents cracks widening should they occur.

How is it installed?

For non-reinforced concrete and standard passenger cars, concrete needs to be 100mm thick. For heavier vehicles, the required thickness increases to 130mm.

Installation of a concrete driveway will usually proceed as follows:

  • Choose a cool, overcast day to pour your driveway – don’t proceed if there’s a chance of rain or frost. Very hot days should also be avoided.
  • Excavate 200-300mm
  • Create a base with hardcore of at least 150mm
  • Cover with fine gravel and level it off
  • Ensure good compaction with a vibrating plate or roller
  • Install timber forms along the sides of the drive, with stakes at regular intervals and and at every join between timber forms
  • Check the elevation to ensure uniform slab height
  • Lay the concrete
  • Insert shrinkage joints at least every 5-6m to avoiding cracks forming. You can also cut control joints. These will need to be done with 24 hours of pouring – sooner if the weather is hot.
  • Keep vehicles off your drive for at least seven days. If the weather is quite cool, extend this by another 5 days.

What will a concrete driveway cost?

Factors that will alter the cost of your concrete driveway include:

  • Size – the length and width
  • The slope – the price increases as the slope does
  • The appearance – plain concrete is cheapest. Add in colour, exposed aggregate or stencilling and the price will increase.

To ensure you get an accurate quote from your concreter or can put together an accurate budget, make sure you know all of the above items.

Many concreting companies have quote calculators on their website, making it quick and easy to get a quote.

Advantages and disadvantages of concrete driveways

  • Durable
  • Cost-effective
  • Low maintenance
  • Can be unattractive
  • Requires a large amount of prep work


How to hire a bathroom designer


Nowhere in a home is good design more important than it is in the bathroom. Not only for the sake of wowing visitors with beautiful tile patterns and frameless glass, but also (and arguably more importantly) for safety, and to ensure that it stands up to the abuse it’s likely to endure on a daily basis.

This is a room where floors and walls are likely to get soaked with water on a very regular basis (especially if you’ve got kids). Steam’s likely to penetrate every available nook, mould’s always a potential problem and proper lighting, ventilation, plumbing and electrics are all crucial no matter where you live.

For better or worse, in most cases bathrooms also have a very significant impact on the resale value of a house too. Installing a sexy bathroom’s as much about improving the value of your house as it is about durability and safety.


Why should I hire a bathroom designer?

To be very clear, you don’t need to hire a professionally qualified bathroom designer to plan your bathroom. Good bathroom design’s a seriously complicated affair though. Hiring a properly trained bathroom designer’s a great way to ensure that you’re getting a stunning, expertly finished bathroom, and that every practical issue has been completely considered and accounted for.

In many circumstances, forking out more for a bathroom designer will pay for itself in terms of the value it adds to your home, and (possibly) to eliminating the need for additional alterations further down the track.


What do bathroom designers do?

A bathroom designer’s job is to work with you throughout the process to ensure that what you need (and want) from your bathroom is clearly established.

The designer will assess your tastes and requirements, your budget and what that will allow, what kinds of space you have available and various other practical issues. From there, the designer will put together a design that meets your needs, and reflects his or her own creative vision.

Some designers may also be able to help project manage your bathroom build for you too – and even recommend a team of trusted contractors or arrange special deals with suppliers.

Many (if not most) bathroom designers start their careers in related fields like plumbing, tiling and interior design. For that reason bathroom designers usually have a very good practical appreciation for the building process. Likewise, many have also undergone formal training and have gone on to become Certified Bathroom Designers.

What makes a ‘good’ bathroom design?

A really well put together bathroom is one that balances a long list of important practical considerations against aesthetic choices. Below are just a few of the things that need to be fully considered:

  • cohesive visual style or theme
  • layout and accessibility
  • safety and slip prevention
  • material and product choices
  • ergonomics
  • waterproofing
  • appropriate lighting
  • plumbing and electrical requirements and limitations
  • adaptability for special needs (perhaps in the future)
  • privacy
  • energy and water efficiency
  • the practicality of the design to be executed by trades people and other specialists


What qualifications should bathroom designers have?

There’s no legal requirement saying that people need a formal qualification to call themselves ‘bathroom designers’. Having said that, if you’re paying for someone to design your bathroom, it’s wise to make sure they have all the right skills and experience.

Certified Bathroom Designers need to keep up with changes in trends, regulations and with new developments in terms of materials and technologies in order to maintain their certifications.

Where can I find a bathroom designer?

In many cases, companies that offer bathroom renovations will have in-house bathroom designers. Likewise, many suppliers (tile and bathroom plumbing suppliers, for example) engage interior specialists to help with the selection of products, which can be very helpful if you’re researching a particular style or application.

Many bathroom designers work independently too, and can be contacted either directly, through trade or design directories.

How to choose the right bathroom designer

There’s no hard and fast rule about what makes one designer better than another – and for the most part it’ll come down to:

  • what you think of the designer’s previous work
  • how well you and the designer communicate, and
  • the extent to which you believe the designer will create something you like

Remember that the design process is as much about the designer’s creative vision as it is your own preferences and requirements. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular look, style, material or colour, it’s up to you to properly communicate this and set a realistic budget for your dream.