Instant gratification in retail doesn’t seem like it’s at all relevant in today’s high street environment, however, it’s one of the most important factors for your customers. Ensuring customer satisfaction is vital for your net promoter score (NPS) as any change in their experience will impact the chances of them recommending your business to someone else.

Gratification is one marketing approach that offers a way to keep your consumers happy through the experience they have with your brand. There are plenty of other factors businesses need to consider as part of the purchase journey, but satisfying consumers with their urgency and their gratification trap, is becoming increasingly the norm and retailers are struggling to keep up.

At KNOWTHM, a recent study showed that consumers were more likely to click a button on your website that could mean they get their product within an hour versus a delay with delivery options or click-to-collect. Proving that shoppers are keen to satisfy their pleasure principle with the urge to get their products as fast as possible.
So let’s understand this behavior a little more:

What are instant gratification and the gratification trap?

Simply defined, gratification is a sense of emotional fulfillment but now it’s added access to goods and things as fast a possible. It taps into the aptly nicknamed ‘the pleasure center’, brain regions that are the source for our response to instant reward. These areas release endorphins commonly known as the “Pleasure Principle”.  On the flip side,  the prefrontal cortex is responsible for your rationality and reasoning, the area for “delayed gratification”.

An article called Psychology and the Rationality of Emotion summarises it like this:

[Psychology] has a clear, evidence-based answer, and the answer is, “No,” people do not routinely think rationally, at least not explicitly so… Specifically, human thought is generally not rational because much of it is unconscious (Wilson, 2002), automatic (Bargh, 1997), emotional (Zajonc, 1980), and heuristic in nature (Tversky&Kahneman, 1974).

Gerald L. Clore

Apr 1, 2011., Psychology and the Rationality of Emotion

Being stuck in a gratification trap between a desire for instant wants or needs and delayed gratification causes problems for our mental health. These actions of natural debating become harder decisions as we age. Financial cost being a major contributor to our ability to reason with ourselves, however many individuals no longer have this limitation to our actions.

The best way to think about it is Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She’s most well known for her demanding “I want it now”, which is now a vast majority of your consumers. Obviously, the faster you receive your products the better. Any things you have ordered arrive as a reward, trigging positivity in our self-esteem.

Contact us to see how KNOWTHM can help you to benefit from customer gratification.

Psychology Today suggests it could be a path of problems for human society.

Psychology Today discusses the consequences of a world without self-discipline in their article.

The unrestrained purchasing of whatever online good piques our interest creates a major burden on our credit card statement, and our constant drive to check in on social media, even while spending time with friends and family, lowers the quality of our in-person interactions.
Austin Perlmutter M.D.

Sep 14, 2019., Psychology Today

As you can see, Psychology Today suggests that our brains are constantly searching for an instant reward, be that from food, goals, or emotional desires to name a few reasons… but it is certainly not a problem if we recognize it. The way we interact with videos, goals, or goods has brought to light a lack of impulse control. You’d normally find this in children, where typically as a child, we’re desperate to fulfill that desire immediately with rewards. However, this is becoming no longer something we grow out of with age, it’s something that even as adults we are craving. The only difference is we have the money and the choice to make our own decisions on what will satisfy our needs.

These pleasures change between individuals, and it’s evident some internet users are trying to limit themselves from this exposure and these natural human tendencies. Yet marketing and companies have become recent contributors to this lack of self control, with the increase in advertisements in social media. Not being able to get what we want releases child-like behaviors and we adults force ourselves to battle with our self-denial and reasons for our urges. We’ve commonly heard how most of us reward ourselves, trying to delay until the end of the month. What’s also interesting is how it can also affect our personality, commonly known as emotional buying.

Why is gratification important to consumers?

After a long day’s work, we typically head home and instantly reward ourselves with a takeaway or a home-cooked meal. We award ourselves with binging on our favorite program while we digest what’s been happening with the people in our lives online. These prizes we grant ourselves are mechanics we recognize from when we were children, and these awards have now been subtlely shaped into self care. Something good for our health. However, humans tend to obscure their rewards. Where there are choices we can make for free without any delay, we don’t see these things as gratification, but merely chores or a thing we have to do.

Consumers are desperate to share their new thing with others, and the ability to upload this online has become a normal way of life. Not only are they getting pleasures from their purchase, but also additional gratification from uploading either a flat lay of their goods or a delivery box, eagerly waiting for those likes and notifications from a family member or friend.

These ‘likes’ form additional reward as we gain ‘approval’ from those we people we hold dear. It’s a gratification trap that has become a normal way of life. From a brand new phone being unboxed online to a simple coffee and croissant from the cafe. We seek someone to reassure us and to help us enforce our opinions and choices, just like children. Having the delayed gratification center within our brain no longer having the ability to form reasons about anything is surely a development people need to focus on. However, this doesn’t mean a business can’t see this as an opportunity within their marketing work.

In what way is gratification an advantage?

It’s a behavior that’s surfaced as a result of on-demand services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix. These particular businesses used previous issues where shoppers would complain about a delay in their shipments. Since then, they’ve revolutionized how we consume their products. Now, content and purchases are available to people with just a click. In the case of Amazon Prime, your purchases arrive at your door within 24 hours. However, Amazon and Netflix are no longer the only providers of gratification in life. Many retailers and other services have also followed suit.

ASOS, for example, offers a subscription package where shoppers can purchase premier delivery options annually for just £10. Uber Eats or PostMates offer delivery services from your favorite restaurants to your door, with an app that can help you see who is delivering and what’s popular to eat. It helps to build anticipation and avoids delayed gratification behaviors, such as canceling your orders. Once items are with you, you’re less likely to return things.

Brands with premier services, like Prime, are more likely to experience loyalty from their buyers. Many opting to purchase their products from this specific website rather than others purely so they can get their items in their life faster. This is the case for both Amazon and ASOS, which have dedicated discount days for registered subscribers. ASOS now also offers plenty of brands to their customer base, including entrepreneur fashion start-ups, so you would never need to leave to another supplier.

How to implement gratification principles in your retail life?


prefers "Get it in an hour" button than any other option

If you already don’t have a ‘get it now’ button on your website, you’re missing out. At KNOWTHM, we know that 78% of people looking to purchase your products are more likely to select the ‘Get it in an hour’ button than any other delivery option. It’s easy to see how one little button could make a huge difference to the happiness of your customers and help your margins.

Here’s how we could help you:

  • Working with us, we’ll help you to embed a simple button into your existing user interface, offering that perfect gratification choice.
  • Your shopper will select a store that can serve hime within one hour, our program will not delay in sending a notification to that store, reserving that person’s product.
  • The shopper will receive a text message with details on how to get to your store and their position in the queue (based on their location).
  • The store can inform the shopper of any delay by updating them remotely, offering them a sweet treat or coffee at the cafe nearby.
  • Once in the store, the customer will be greeted and immediately taken through to complete their transaction.
  • For your shopper, their gratification skyrockets as they’re able to walk out with their brand new item without any additional work.

The benefit of this process to your business is a huge reduction in waiting times in your retail locations, an increase in Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer recommendation, but also reduced returns from your online purchases.  Most importantly though, you have one very satisfied customer.

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