Retail loyalty driven by 'wow factor', study finds

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on July 16, 2009

More than half of all consumers have experienced so-called 'Wow factor' shopping experiences, according to a study by a study examining the loyalty dynamics of outstanding shopping interactions by Verde Group, the Retail Council of Canada, and the Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative at the Wharton School.

The study, entitled 'Discovering Wow: A study of great retail shopping experiences in North America', concluded that not all "great experiences" deliver a significant impact for retailers in terms of shopper loyalty or intent to return, with fewer than half of these experiences measurably improving customer loyalty.

In fact, the study found that what consumers describe as "great shopping" actually happens quite often, with more than half (52%) of consumers saying they had enjoyed a "wow" shopping experience, and 35% of all shoppers reporting a great shopping experience within the past 6 months.

According to the study's authors, great shopping occurs when a number of things go well for the shopper. On average, more than ten distinct elements are required to create a single great shopping experience, but not all of these elements drive or enhance customer loyalty.

The study observed that, broadly speaking, there are five categories of great shopping experience:

  1. Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, and acknowledging them and listening to them;
  2. Executional Excellence: patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge, and providing unexpected product quality;
  3. Brand Experience: exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, and making customers feel they're special and that they always get a good deal;
  4. Expediting: being sensitive to customers' time, eliminating long check-out lines, and being proactive in helping to speed up the process;
  5. Problem Recovery: helping to resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality, and ensuring complete satisfaction.

The presence of these "wow factors" clearly makes a difference: customers who have enjoyed a such an experience are over 75% more loyal to the store than those who have not enjoyed a great shopping experience.

However, of the five types of experience, only the brand experience and engagement elements can measurably build shopper loyalty. Ultimately, brand experience is the most vital element, being nearly 40% more important than the next closest element.

"The good news is that consistent greatness is quite possible, and it can have a significant impact on the loyalty bottom line," concluded Paula Courtney, president for the Verde Group. "This research shows that retailers are excelling at delivering on engagement elements, and that their biggest challenge now is to deliver more brand experience elements."

For additional information:
·  Visit Verde Group at
·  Visit Jay H. Baker at
·  Visit the Retail Council at