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PROVEN: Customers are creatures of habit.

Source:  www.fremont.gov
We are all creatures of habit, which is good news to owners of any small business.  This may seem instinctive to any business owner, but now this assumption can be considered scientific fact.

A comprehensive study of consumers world-wide conducted by the mathmatics department at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) not only documents this, but has developed a method for predicting people's shopping patterns.  Also participating in this research are scientists at the University of California in San Diego (U.S.A), M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and NICTA (Australia).  A pretty impressive group of researchers, indeed.

The conclusion of this study is that consumers are more predictable than you might assume and because of this predictability it is possible to know where consumers will shop.

As explained by one of its authors, Esteban Moro of the Department of Mathematics at UC3M, "the main conclusion we have drawn is that people's behavior is repetitive when it comes to visiting and spending, and as such it is possible to predict where people are going to buy in the future."

In order to carry out the study, researchers analyzed hundreds of thousands of  economic transactions made with credit cards on both sides of the Atlantic. "What we found," Professor Moro explained, "is that people are quite regular when visiting and purchasing in shops and that there is quite a bit of ´predictability', above all in the long term."

In short: As consumers, each and every one of us tend to go back to the same shops with remarkable regularity.

The meaning for anyone owning a retail shop is that putting effort into creating a personal, quality experience for a first-time shopper really does pay off by creating a customer.  Not theoretically, but backed up by extensive research analysis. 

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Story Source:  Coco Krumme, Alejandro Llorente, Manuel Cebrian, Alex ("Sandy") Pentland, Esteban Moro. The predictability of consumer visitation patterns. Scientific Reports, 2013.

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