When Japanese retail chain Don Don Donki first opened its doors to the public in 2017, the store proved to be a huge hit among Singaporeans who flocked to buy Japanese fresh produce and exclusive imported products, try their signature baked sweet potatoes and other ready-to-eat food, and just to experience the novelty of shopping in a Japanese supermarket in Singapore.
In a span of two years, Don Don Donki has rapidly expanded, and have stores in prime locations such as Novena, Tanjong Pagar, and Changi Airport. A sixth outlet will also be opening at Clarke Quay.
The success of Don Don Donki has much to do with the careful planning and small but deliberate decisions made to maximise spending among all who would step in their brightly lit aisles and music-filled stores.
Here are 7 subtle sales techniques Don Don Donki outlets are using to get you to spend more time and money in the store - that you might not even realise.
1. READY-TO-EAT FOOD SOLD AT THE ENTRANCE
The first thing that grabs your attention before you even step into a Don Don Donki outlet is the sweet potato cart and a long queue of people. At the Novena outlet, there is even a small cafe right at the entrance selling ice coffee and blended drinks.
With these temptations in sight, it increases the chances that you will grab a drink or small snack immediately before even heading into the store, or as you're heading home. This turns your grocery shopping trip into an impromptu, unplanned feasting session.
Conversely, some people might come just for the freshly cooked sweet potatoes, and then decide to head inside the Don Don Donki store to buy something.
2. OPEN-CONCEPT KITCHENS
With the vast variety of food bentos like chicken katsu rice to stir-fried omelette noodles, you can actually buy your lunch or dinner at Don Don Donki. What's interesting though, are the open concept kitchens. If you visit the store in the morning, you will see more than a dozen workers through the glass windows, dutifully preparing fresh meals.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia conducted research into consumer behaviour and concluded that open concept kitchens not only provide a form of entertainment for customers, but also much needed 'transparency'. Customers have more faith in a product when they witness firsthand how their food is handled - so now you know why you tend to grab a box of takoyaki before you leave.
3. FREE SAMPLES
As kiasu Singaporeans, we all love free samples. It is not uncommon to see a promoter at Don Don Donki giving out cups of Hokkaido soy bean or pieces of hamburg steak freely.
California State University researchers have found that there is a strong effect of free samples on immediate consumer purchase. The reciprocity principle is observed when consumers who accepted free samples are likely to feel obliged to reciprocate by making a purchase, or at least be open to consider it.
4. MANY BRIGHT AND LARGE SIGNS
Apart from the illuminated yellow "Don Don Donki" sign at the entrance, once you step inside, you will see hundreds of signs in varying sizes, hung or scattered around the outlet, screaming "seasonal melons", "limited edition ice-cream", or "reduced price".
The prices are bold red in colour, and here's why - colour psychology. The colour red reduces a person's analytical thinking and causes their reaction to be faster. This means that red reduces your ability to have second thoughts about picking a product and forces you to act by buying the product.
Other colours used such as orange, green, and blue which help to bring attention to a product also encourage positive thoughts about said product and the overall brand.
If you haven't noticed, most products have a price tag that is not a whole number. For example, you might perceive that a $6.89 or even $6.99 price tag looks cheaper than $7 and will thus be more inclined to buy it.
5. DON DON DONKI MUSIC
Not only are you greeted by glaring signs when you step into a Don Don Donki outlet you are also subjected to the loud music that is the phrase "Don Don Donki" repeated a thousand times in a tune that gets annoying after a few minutes.
Have you felt so distracted by the music that you subconsciously walk around faster and buy more than you need?
In a phenomenon known as "earworm" or as it is scientifically known - "involuntary musical imagery", it is when a tune, or part of a tune, is stuck on a loop in your head. The main reason someone might experience earworms is due to repeated exposure to a song.
Earworms can ruin your concentration and drive you to absolute distraction. Therefore, when you hear the Don Don Donki music, you can't stop thinking about it, even after leaving the store for a while. You will also tend to shop for more items because you are so distracted by the music.
6. ZIG-ZAG QUEUING SYSTEM
Walking around Don Don Donki can be like walking through a maze. While queuing at the counter, you might realise that certain outlets, such as the one at City Square Mall, has a zig-zag layout, with shelves at the side packed to the brim with snacks.
When a store has a confusing layout, the Gruen effect sets in. This is the moment where you lose track of your original intentions (e.g. "I came to Don Don Donki just to buy melons"). The complicated layout is a manipulative technique that makes you more susceptible to impulse buys.
At the City Square Mall outlet, you might be innocently queuing along the zig-zag and waiting to pay, that is, until something else on the shelves catches your attention - and your money.
7. APP AND CO-BRANDED CREDIT CARD
There exists a Don Don Donki membership app that functions as a membership card. With every purchase, you can earn miles (dMiles). These miles can be exchanged for coupons to be used online or in stores. There is also a ranking system that acts as a loyalty programme, where higher tier members enjoy even greater benefits.
Or, if you own a Don Don Donki Cobrand Credit Card, you should be aware that you can earn up to S$560 in cash rebates yearly, plus a $10 Don Don Donki voucher.
If you have the app, you might be motivated to shop for more products so that you can earn more miles and redeem more freebies. If you own the cobrand credit card, you might also spend more to earn more rebates.
This article was first published in Dollars and Sense.