BMGT 311: Assignment #5, Observation

One of the most powerful marketing research tools we can use is the one that is often overlooked: simple observation of customer behavior. By using observation in a real world environment, or using ethnographic techniques, researches can lean a lot from a very small sample, and design experiences around customer needs.

A good example of this was a new ATM designed by BBVA in Europe.  In a partnership with IDEO (Pioneers in human centered design), they were able to use observation to redesign an ATM with the end-user in mind.

This type of observation is a powerful tool for marketing research.  Your last assignment is to focus on the world around you, and take notes of customer behavior in a real world shopping environment.  How do customers choose products?  How do they pay?  Do they feel rushed or stressed?  What recommendations would you have from this observation.

Take some time this next week and observe the world around you, and let us know what you observed.  Share with us what you found in observing customers around you in a real world environment.

Chris Lovett

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11 thoughts on “BMGT 311: Assignment #5, Observation”

  1. I work at my big fat greek gyro. I get to see people all the time come in and buy food from us. There are many people who come in and do not know what gyro meat is. On our menu we could put (lamb) beside it. We also have many customers who come in, and do not know if they order at the register or if they are supposed to sit down first. This could be solved by a sign or more vocal employees. I would say a majority of the people who come in pay with credit cards. They are in a hurry lots of the time. even when they are planning to dine in, and might even stay for an extended period of time. the amount of time between them telling me the last thing they want till they get the food in their hands can’t be fast enough. Somewhere around 10% of people who pay with a card are trying to grab it from me before i have even swiped their card. When orders have fried foods or food we cook to order on the grill they take longer to make by several minutes. As people hear orders called that were taken after them they become visibly annoyed, and often take their frustrations out on the employees. to that we have to be as polite as we can while letting them know their food is being made to order which takes longer. This could be helped by posting that it takes longer, having the employee at the register inform the customer before ordering, or even taking certain items off the menu that often times cause frustrations on the part of the customer as well as the employees having to wait to make the food.

  2. I work at the Sun Glass Hut in the Ross Park Mall. The Ross Park Mall I’d considered to be a “destination” mall. This being said a lot of peoole come here for luxury products, but at the same time there are a lot of discount stores as well.

    I stayed after my shift on saturdsy to observe if the way my store was set up was the best way for everyone shopping in the mall. The sunglass hut has all high end and discounted goods mixted together. After watching each customer shop I saw a lot of frusterstion with each customer having a hard time finding their needs due to the mix in product.

    My suggestion would be to seperate all the goods and use different marketing and colors for the luxury items and regular ones. This wsy the customer will have an easier time finding what fits there needs.

  3. For my observation assignment I went to the Starbucks on Pitt’s campus (Atwood St.). It was a Saturday evening during the weekend that is still technically considered to be their Thanksgiving break. Because of this, I was expecting Starbucks to be a little dead. Instead it was crowded. It looked like it was split pretty evenly with men and women. Only 10% were older than the standard college/grad school age.

    All but two or three seats were filled. While over half of the patrons ordered coffee, almost everybody was there with laptops and headphones doing their homework. About twenty people were here by themselves; the rest were in pairs or more. During the hour that I was there, only ten people immediately left after getting their coffee. A few people arrived, looked around at the crowded room, and promptly left. Any location with outlets was constantly occupied.

    I noticed that two people had refillable venti-sized tumblers. About 2/3 of the patrons had grande or venti sized drinks. Only a handful had tall drinks.

    While I was in line, most people around me all paid with Panther funds. After ordering a drink, everyone in our waiting cluster was on their phones except me. I probably looked suspicious.

    Toward the end of my observation, the Starbucks began to empty very quickly. However, the same group of 10-15 people that had been there since before my arrival stayed, and they were probably there for a long time after my departure at 6:00 pm.

    To improve, I would recommend installing more electrical outlets and maybe think about an expansion for a long-term goal. Perhaps looking at space above the restaurant would be an option with more tables and chairs.

  4. I did my customer observation on Black Friday because it has more sales/discounts compare to normal days and that could attract more consumers to spend and shop. Thus it will be a great chance to learn more from their behaviors. I went to the Ross Park Mall with my friends at 1:00 PM. I didn’t pick a particular store at the beginning because people are just everywhere from the parking lot to the restroom. It just extremely packed as if everything is free. We went to Macys first because we parked around the store area. As we were walking around different brand sections in Macys, I figure out this might be a great chance to start observing people around me. I walked around at the Ralph Lauren section for around 20 minutes, and I saw the line waiting for the cashier is getting longer and longer. You can see some frustration on some faces. The line is mixed with young people, moms, dads, and seniors. Most of them seemed relax at the beginning, but with the line getting longer and longer, some people decide to leave their stuffs and walk away. Some new customer walked into the section and were not able to try some clothe on because the line blocked or jammed certain area. They could only shop in other similar brand sections. Most consumers paid with credit/debit cards, but the machine went wrong at this period. The cashier had to call for some technical support and they have to move the line to another corner. More people chose to leave and shop somewhere else after experiencing this accident.

    My recommendation would be to set up additional cashier for holiday season. Long lines should be expected for holiday sales, thus it’s very important to make sure customers are willing to stay in the line in patient, in stead of frustrating them. Another suggestion is to separate cashier locations and brand sections. For instance, they could set up couple cashiers for certain sections nearby. Then the people waiting in the line would not be blocking other consumer from walking into the section and try to shop. Although some issues won’t happen in normal days, holiday season should be considered differently. Any business that trying to satisfy more customers needs to make an extra step in order to provide better customer services.

  5. I went to Giant Eagle to observe, specifically the one in South Side. I observed there for about 45 minutes to an hour. I wanted to observe here because I knew it was going to be packed with holiday shoppers and picking up all their items for their Thanksgiving dinners. I go to this Giant Eagle a lot to get my groceries and know how they are normally so I wanted to compare it to a busier time for them. As I started to observe, I just walked around the store, up and down the aisles and was just observing people as they were actually shopping. While observing those people I noticed that the store seems to be very cramped and it was pretty messy at that time. Customers were having to reach towards the very back of shelves to get the products that were in high demand because those were the only boxes left. I don’t know if it was because there was just so many people or I just got them at a bad time. After looking at that for a little while I moved to the cash registers and started to observe them and it was a mess there! Literally people everywhere! It was really chaotic and you could see all the customers getting frustrated. The lines were moving slow and even the self check-out line was really backed up. The self check-out line was actually down one of the cosmetic aisles. Also since the lines were so backed up the people that were still shopping were having trouble going from one aisle to the other since there was no room to move.

    After observing I thought there was a couple things that Giant Eagle could do to improve these problems. First I think that they should have a couple people that are walking around the store putting the items back where they belong and trying to keep things neat and tidy. As well as during these busy times there needs to people restocking the shelves as quickly as they can. Although it looked like a lot of the employees were at the front and trying to cash people out I think that they should have brought on a couple more employees for these busy holiday shoppers. Without these people it just made the store look bad and very dirty. I feel like they should look at their employees at their register too and see if they are the most efficient workers because while I was observing you could see that it was the cashiers and baggers that were taking forever to get the customer through the line. Although customers orders were very big with Thanksgiving coming up there were still those people that had just a couple items that wanted to get out of the store quickly but had to wait for forever because all the lines were long, even the self check-out line was backed up. I think that some sort of expansion or organization has to be done to get guest moving through the lines quicker. Expanding the space from the cashiers to the aisles needs to be done as well because having customers with a cart trying to maneuver through lines is just horrible. Even on a normal day when I am shopping there for just my groceries and the store isn’t too busy the check out line takes a long time. Giant Eagle needs to find a way to be more efficient since grocery shopping is a necessity and shouldn’t be this painful.

  6. I’ve worked at the copy and print center at staples for the past 5 years and took some time, especially over the past couple of weeks, to see what could be done to make a more seamless customer experience in the copy center. We do everything from posters and business cards to invitations and regular copies. One of the biggest problems that we have is that only one person is working in the copy center at a time. We are one of the busiest copy centers in our region of stores and at times we get lines of 10 + customers waiting to get an order done. The person working in copy center is also the only person running the post office located inside of our store. So not only do we get a line of customers waiting for a copy order, we have another line that forms for usps, with only one person manning both. I have frustrated and angry customers every shift simply because staples doesn’t want to pay (barely over minimum wage) to have 2 people running copy center at the same time. I think one of the easiest things that we could do is have 2 people working in the copy center each shift. Then if we are not busy throughout the day, one of the copy center associates can help with the stocking and maintenance of the store.

    Although we have self serve copiers, they are the same ones that we have in copy center. They have limited paper options, and customers do not seem to want to use them. One of the reasons that customers do not want to use them is because the copies are only 1 cent cheaper than they are if we do them for the customer. Plus, we use a higher quality of paper in our non self serve copiers. The other thing that staples should do to lessen the work load for us and make it better for the customers is make the copies significantly cheaper for the self serve as compared to having an associate do them. Why would you pay nearly the same amount of money to make your own copies, possibly messing them up, when you can have an associate that knows what they’re doing do them for you for practically the same cost?

    Customers also expect us to do very large orders for them right away when we have orders backed up to be done. This is probably the easiest fix. All we need is a large sign saying that the associate has the right to tell a customer that we cannot do the order right away if there are other orders ahead of theirs. With the sign, we need the managers to back us up in our decision to tell the customer that unless they feel like coming over and doing it right away (which they don’t).

    Finally, we need a better system in place to keep track of orders between shift changes. Associates constantly get backed up and forget to leave notes about certain orders, and they either get lost, or not done in time. What we need is a way for the customer to enter what they need to be done, which will be stored in a system and come up as the next order once we press something saying that the previous order is finished. This system should also have preset warnings displaying when the order is close to being due to the customer, followed by a warning when the due time has come.

  7. So for my observation I did Black Friday shopping at Ross Park Mall. I am not one who normally goes shopping on Black Friday because of the mass amount of crazy people, let alone one who goes at midnight. But this year I went at 10pm on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and oh man the mall was packed. The first thing I observed was that there was a lot more women in the mall then men which did not surprise me much at all. The next thing that I noticed was that everyone was walking around very hastily as to get from store to store as fast as possible probably to get to each store before things were sold out. Another observation I made was that the more feminine stores like Pink, Sephoria, and Forever 21 had a lot more shoppers than the stores that had clothes for both men and women. Then I finally had to go into my first store which because of my girlfriend was Victoria’s Secret.

    In Victoria’s Secret I observed a lot of guys like me, there with their significant other. Most of the girls who were there with their boyfriend or husband was asking them whether or not they liked the things they were looking at. Then I also noticed that some of the girls were just trying to buy as much of a certain product that was on a special sale like the perfume or lotion and hurry up and check out. Overall in Victoria’s Secret it was pretty packed with women and some men but it was not a mad house.

    Then we went to Forever 21 and I can promise you that I will never go into that store again. It was so packed with girls that were just hunting for clothes as if it was life or death. Ninety percent of the people in the store were teenage to mid 20 year old girls who had no respect for the clothes and if they looked at something and didn’t like it they would just drop it on the ground and move on. I did not see any girls fight over an item of clothing even though I was really hoping to see that. But I observed that the girls in Forever 21 were getting frustrated because a lot of the clothes were not clearly marked if they were on sale or not and they have no way to check the price besides waiting in the 25 person long line.

    Lastly, I also observed in the mall that the majority of the people were in the stores that had the best deals and had the most young people items. For instance JCPennys did not have many people in it at all and actually Macy’s did not have as many people in it as I thought it should have, however stores like Hollister were packed when their clothes are just as expensive as Macy’s but are worse quality, in my opinion. Overall my observations about Black Friday shopping at the popular mall were clear; lots of people who are just trying to get what they can for the cheapest and get out of the mall as fast as possible.

  8. So for my observation I did Black Friday shopping at Ross Park Mall. I am not one who normally goes shopping on Black Friday because of the mass amount of crazy people, let alone one who goes at midnight. But this year I went at 10pm on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and oh man the mall was packed. The first thing I observed was that there was a lot more women in the mall then men which did not surprise me much at all. The next thing that I noticed was that everyone was walking around very hastily as to get from store to store as fast as possible probably to get to each store before things were sold out. Another observation I made was that the more feminine stores like Pink, Sephoria, and Forever 21 had a lot more shoppers than the stores that had clothes for both men and women. Then I finally had to go into my first store which because of my girlfriend was Victoria’s Secret.

    In Victoria’s Secret I observed a lot of guys like me, there with their significant other. Most of the girls who were there with their boyfriend or husband was asking them whether or not they liked the things they were looking at. Then I also noticed that some of the girls were just trying to buy as much of a certain product that was on a special sale like the perfume or lotion and hurry up and check out. Overall in Victoria’s Secret it was pretty packed with women and some men but it was not a mad house.

    Then we went to Forever 21 and I can promise you that I will never go into that store again. It was so packed with girls that were just hunting for clothes as if it was life or death. Ninety percent of the people in the store were teenage to mid 20 year old girls who had no respect for the clothes and if they looked at something and didn’t like it they would just drop it on the ground and move on. I did not see any girls fight over an item of clothing even though I was really hoping to see that. But I observed that the girls in Forever 21 were getting frustrated because a lot of the clothes were not clearly marked if they were on sale or not and they have no way to check the price besides waiting in the 25 person long line.

    Lastly, I also observed in the mall that the majority of the people were in the stores that had the best deals and had the most young people items. For instance JCPennys did not have many people in it at all and actually Macy’s did not have as many people in it as I thought it should have, however stores like Hollister were packed when their clothes are just as expensive as Macy’s but are worse quality, in my opinion. Overall my observations about Black Friday shopping at the popular mall were clear; lots of people who are just trying to get what they can for the cheapest and get out of the mall as fast as possible.

  9. For my observation assignment I observed the customers at Grove City outlet mall on Black Friday. I got there around 2:30 in the morning with my cousins and the scene was pretty chaotic. Just about every store was packed and the lines were out the door. People behaved as if they had never seen a store before, people yeling and arguing over who got to the line first. I normally go to Grove City every year Thanksgiving night to go to the Nike store but you couldn’t even see inside there were so many people there. Its a crazy scene and if there was a simple way to limit the amount of people let in to the outlet in general at a time, it might be a better shopping experience.

  10. For this assignment, I choose to observe people at the airport. I recently traveled to Florida, so I thought observing people flying would be a great experience. First off, my dad had bought my ticket using his miles, which allowed me to go on to a preferred line. First thing I noticed is how people were fustraited that our line was walking so much faster than any other line. A lady pulled me aside to ask how to get on this line. All I replied was it’s for preferred first class or business class flyers. When I got to security line. The man taking off his shoes seemed confused as to the process. He called over a TSA agent and asked how to send his book bag through the security and what had to be taken out. After so, the TSA agent redirected them to a metal detector. When it was my turn to walk through, the TSA agent looked me up and down, and then sent me though a different check out which did a body check within a big tall round machine. From this, I proceeded to my flight. The next biggest thing I noticed was while I was on my flight. I decided to try to relax without my phone which led to a man sitting next to me look over twice, and further ask me where I went to school. We talked out entire flight, and he explained his life and how he fought in the army during the Vietnam, we were laughing at other people flying on the flight, exclaim how frustrated they were with the really bad turbulence.

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