The Ant Farm


Every time I visit my local big-box warehouse retailer, I’m amazed at how people lose all sense of decorum … using their industrial-strength shopping carts as battering rams … and simply dart from clothing to electronics to cereal to wine … and, of course, to the always highly popular “sample” carts where voracious appetites are satisfied as if they haven’t eaten for weeks. It is an interesting mini-ecosystem to experience, and quite honestly, to survive, all in the name of perceived value and bargains.

Over time, I’ve wondered how this shopping environment works as it does, and how these marketers and merchandisers understand the ant-like movement of consumers. After some thought, I equate this scenario to an old-fashioned ant farm. Remember these “toys” from our youth? You setup this double-paned container filled with sand and release the ants to form their own paths, with no pre-defined boundaries as to where they go or how they get there. Yet, if you wanted the ants to go to a specific spot, you placed food in a particular location to drive behavior. The ants found their way to the prize, and we witness their natural path to consumption.

For marketers, it’s vitally important to understand what your audience wants, but more importantly, how they want to engage with your brand and product, and finally, how they want to consume and purchase. The path that your customers “should take” isn’t always the path that they “do take”. Experienced marketers and companies may execute their strategy based on historical behavior and boundaries, when, in reality, consumption will occur and accelerate when marketers embrace the constantly evolving behaviors of their target audience.

And that’s one observed reason why these warehouse retailers constantly change their merchandising … to better understand and perhaps influence the buying behavior of their customers. Even more impressive is that no two of these warehouses are exactly alike, as each store seems to have its unique layout based on the region and behaviors of its local customers. They understand their “ants”, and they create an environment that works well to drive consumption.

Have you thought about your “ant farm”, and how you should observe natural behavior as a key component of your marketing strategy? Maybe you should.  Learn how to get Better Results with your sales and marketing efforts … contact us today.