by Kim Jovinelli
People watching. A wonderful past time set in crowded places where observation and wit is king. One can learn a lot about a persona when they don’t know they are being watched. For instance, where they like to shop? What they like to eat? Do they have any strange tics?
The best part of it for me is to observe the way people shop. I have a background in anthropology, which is in part the study of human behavior. My observations have given me insight and an awareness of how people use stores and how stores manipulate people.
Let’s begin with people. When you enter a store, any store, where do you go first, left or right? In most cases, studies have shown that the average person will go to the right. Next question. Who does the shopping more often, regardless of what type of shopping it is? Again, statistically speaking it is going to be a woman. This is by no means a sexist statement, its evolution. Back when man first started standing upright, men were the hunters and women were the gatherers. Meat wasn’t always available, so someone had to make sure the children and the village or community could eat while the hunters were out hunting.
Move ahead in time a few millennia and, for the most part, men are still the hunter (aka breadwinner) and women are still the gatherers (aka the shopper). Again, not a sexist statement, just observations. Granted, this dynamic is shifting with women earning equal wages, having more independence, and not needing to be taken care of as they were in the past.
Let’s move away from evolution and talk about how stores manipulate us. One, as mentioned previously, most of the shopping is done by women and the average human being will typically move to the right when entering a store. Next time you walk into a store that sells both men’s and women’s clothing, notice where they are placed throughout the store. For the most part, women’s clothing will be on the right hand side in the front of a store. Men’s, left hand side and pushed further back.
It is all a way the merchants make sure to get flow the way they want. Crowd sourcing (or how people are shuffled through a space) is a serious study done by manufactures to maximize sales. We are unaware of this for the most part. I invite you to observe next time to be in a space. You will be surprised what you find.
In fact, I would like to hear any observations you may make. Please leave a comment to share your findings!