Securing the Future of Hypermarkets in Pakistan; A Study on Effects of Hyperstar Ambiance on Females Purchasing Decisions

Hyper star belongs to the Carrefour group based in Germany but in Pakistan it is currently ran by the Majid-Al-Futtaim-Retail belonging to a gulf country .It established in 2009. Hyperstar is Pakistan’s most dynamic, fast-moving and exciting hypermarket chain. The company has global expertise which helps us offer the shoppers here in the Pakistan the same quality, variety and value-for-money that is provided all over the world. Hyperstar was launched in Pakistan in 2009. Since then, Hyperstar is growing its network and present in the major cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad and has plan to further expand its stores in other cities e.g. Gujranwala, Multan, Hyderabad etc.

Sections at Hyperstar:

  • Fresh Food: Hyperstar gives you value for money and quality goods with their amazing collection of fresh food counters that add to your success every day. From fresh foods that are prepared in-store every day to imported foods from across Pakistan and abroad.
  • Grocery & Beverages: Hyperstar is one-stop shop for everything from cleaning products to groceries, fresh foods to frozen foods, and just about anything you need for your home.
  • Household Goods: Shopping at Hyperstar couldn’t be easier. You can get everything from house ware to office & home stationary, sports good, toys, and so much more. There’s everything for everyone.
  • Home Appliances: You can get the latest technical equipment, gadgets and electronics items to satisfy you. From International brands, all hyperstar products are durable and of good quality. At Hyperstar they cater to their customer’s needs.
  • Textile: At Hyperstar you can pick from an amazing collection of fashion apparels and beautiful home linen that will satisfy your every need and provide you with quality and affordable items. From basic wear to formal wear, trendy outfits to cool seasonal collections, you can find your style right in Hyperstar. What’s more Hyperstar has to offer, decorate your home with the latest from Hyperstar bedroom, bathroom and kitchen ware sections.

Employees and Environment Observation

You want to notice the physical details of the environment for clues about the brand. What are the characteristics of place, décor, and ambience that tell you what the place is all about? Do the same thing for the personnel in the place and for the patrons themselves. How do they dress? What do they look like? How do they behave? Is their dress/demeanor congruent with the brand image?

As we approached Hyperstar we could sense this aroma of fresh food. Like all other big stores e.g. Metro Hyperstar is designed with high roofs. Once you enter the area you feel much more comfortable since the roofs are high and you feel like there is more room to breathe and can easily shop in that place for hours as you do not feel claustrophobic. There was an entrance area to enter the store. We started from Household Goods section we noticed the color of wall changing as we moved towards Home Appliances where the walls were painted Blue. Products like Smartphones were laid on a table so consumers can easy feel the product and use it while standing there besides the table. This way consumer can know better what they are buying. It minimizes the factor of uncertainty which consumers always feel while ordering Online. Then we moved on towards Textile where the walls were painted Yellow. The whole store is designed to use the space efficiently. There were aisles in the middle which were very tall and once you enter an Aisle you cannot see on the sides because of the height which gives you a feeling that you’re in a maze. It is designed in such a way that consumers start from one section and to get to the other desired section they will have to cross the middle sections and might find something they like between the walk. As we entered Grocery section we noticed walls turned green which gave us a feeling of healthy and clean food. After that we entered Fresh food section which had Navy blue walls above the fish stalls and Mauve color above the Ready Food stalls. Hyperstar is designed like a maze and to get from point A to Point C you will have to go through Point B. As we started observing the staff, we noticed different sale personal were wearing different color of shirts. As we interviewed the Sales Person he told us that Shirt Colors are according to their ranks. Blue color is for merchandisers, Yellow is for Stockers which are seniors of merchandisers and for the managers Black Jackets with tie. Then there were personal who were not the employees of Hyperstar but Brand ambassadors of different brands. Unilever Brand Ambassadors were wearing Blue shirts with Unilever logo behind. Lipton Brand Ambassadors were wearing Yellow shirts. Female Brand ambassadors had a uniform of black pants, White Formal Shirts and black jackets. Female Brand Ambassadors were from Cosmetics Company like L’Oreal. Then we started Observing their Behavior. They all were trained to be very polite with the customers and once you enter their Aisle they will approach you and ask you questions like what are you looking for and then informing about their own brand. If the customer is interested they will carry on the Conversation and if not then they will leave you be. Male sales persons are also allotted positions to provide help to the customers if they need any kind of information. All sales persons are trained in their product category so they can provide assistance to customers with full confidence.

Key Learning’s:

  1. Space Matters

    The once thing we noticed was the space they were covering. It seemed huge walking from one end to another would take 5 to 10 minutes. This would help the store place their products in such a way that the consumer has to walk past it. Usually they aim for Impulsive buying technique in which customer buys something even if he doesn’t need it. Just because it’s on low price or is something that the consumer did not know was here in the store.

  1. Customer is the King

     Hyperstar works very hard on building such an environment in which customers feel very comfortable and roam around in the story without any worry. Placement of sales person helps guide the customers. Trollies are of low weight and easy to be carried around.

  1. Lighting Matters

      Hyperstar has perfect lighting in their store in which you don’t feel that it’s dark outside. Bright lights give an ambience of liveliness.

  1. Customers like to be surprised: Hyperstar has placed their items in such a way that customers usually see things they did not know existed. Customers like to see products that surprise them and Hyperstar has done a tremendous job in placing their products in such a way that neither the store can be memorized easily and customers can still find what they are looking for. “The art of making customers feel lost in the store but not too lost that they cannot find their desired products”
  1. Music in the background helps relax the customers

     Background music is very soothing customers feel relaxed and shop with ease which is the aim of Hyperstar.

  1. Placement of Prices on the products

     The prices were placed in such a way that the customer doesn’t even have to go close to the product and can see the price in a distance and if it’s attractive they move towards the product to examine it.

  1. The sense of Touch

     is another way Hyperstar uses to its advantage products are placed in such a way from crockery to home appliances to Textile that you can touch and feel the quality or the build before buying the product which online shopping does not provide.

  1. Convenience

     The biggest selling point for Hyperstar is that they provide consumers with Convenience from headphones to shoes to vegetables everything under one roof. This makes consumer feel more convenient as they can buy anything and everything from one place which is going to save them time and extra travel to individual’s shops.

Customer Views

After focusing on the Hyperstar overall environment we shifted our focus towards the consumers that were present in Hyperstar and we focused on the Female consumers and interviewed a few of them. We started from elderly women who were from 40-60 of age. We observed how the environment around them affected them, how the employees were approaching and whether they were of any help. We observed the Elderly women didn’t not like the idea of Shopping malls being so big as they have to walk a lot and get tired quickly. Hyperstar lacked Motor Carts for the elderly who have problems walking. Elderly women were usually accompanied by family members. Elderly women were not interested in technology but they were interested in Grocery section and healthy foods attracted them. Elderly women spent less time in store than other women since they were getting tired quickly with all the walking. They had no or every less interaction with the employees since they were being accompanied by family members they would rather ask them for assistance. Then we moved on to Mothers with kids and we started observing their behavior. They were interested in Household Goods, Grocery & Beverages, and Fresh foods. Their priority was their kids and majority of them were seen going for healthy clean foods for their kids. They were not concerned with the length of hyperstar and actually liked the walk between aisles. They were accompanied by either a servant or their husbands and kids. They had minimum interactions with the employees. Then we shifted our focus towards Younger females and we noticed that their main attraction was Beauty products, Makeup and Accessories. Younger females had a lot of interaction with the female brand ambassadors to know more about the products. They liked the environment and the ambience hyperstar provides. They feel safe and comfortable since majority of consumers are with families or friends. Employees on the other hand were very much congruent with the Consumers no matter what age. Which seemed like they were properly trained to approach customers of all age with different styles?

Key learning’s:

  1. Stores need to focus more on Elderly Consumers

     As we observed Elderly women were getting tired quickly because of the long walk between aisles and Hyperstar had no arrangements for example electric carts for elderly to entertain the Elderly women.

  1. Mother’s main priority is their Kids health

     As we observed Majority of mothers were busy in buying Food items or groceries and other consumer items which were for kids. The cleanliness really helps them feel comfortable and they shop with ease as they know the products are healthy for their kids.

  1. Young female customers would only buy if the products are spontaneous or branded well

     Young females seemed very choosy when it came to brands and only liked to buy the ones which were well known. Beauty products section needs to bigger as young females usually buy makeup after inspired by Western celebrities and the brands they were looking for were not usually available.

Personal Observations:

As I went with my friends, I felt very comfortable as soon as I entered Hyperstar a feeling like I could stay in here for hours and would not get bored because of the variety. I observed different products as I walked through and was making mental comparison of products and their prices. I was more interested in Technology and Accessories section as they had a docking station where all new phones were placed. I could easily check them out how they feel in the hands and how well they perform software wise. The Experience I got to take was amazing as I could compare phones with ease because everything was in front of me and in my range but the thing I noticed was that some of the phone’s prices were more than the present market and because of which I was unmotivated to actually buy a phone from there. The soothing music in the background made me feel relaxed and the variety of products made me overwhelmed as I would go check out different products from one section to another which would take me hours but I was not getting bored. Hyperstar has placed it’s items in such a way that once you start looking for products you come across products that you weren’t even looking for. Their product placement was very spontaneous.  I had a lot of interaction with the employees as I had no problems approaching them and asking them for specific products description. They seemed very helpful and keen.

Key consumer insights and Recommendations:

  1. Product Placement matters

     As I observed the placement of products really overwhelmed me and I was getting curious to check out all aisles and as many products that I can.

  1. Stores need to be lively

     Hyperstar had a very colorful walls and no wall was plain white which gave this feeling of liveliness it also had immense lighting in which you can find a lost needle on the floor, which impacted my mind in a way that this place holds high standards. Background music was soothing to the ears and did not bore me.

  1. Products need to have more description

     Although the prices were mentioned the description of products lacked information and I had to constantly call the sales person to give me details.

  1. Young male Customer need to be more focused on

     I felt like there were not many Technology items as there should be for example Drones, Latest DSLRs, or Latest Smartphones were. They all seemed outdated.

  1. Hyperstar Needs to update their Technology

      Hyperstar tried very hard to reach the international standards of shops although it did pretty well it still lacked a few things like the use of Technology, Their Carts are still outdated with no barcode scanner. I noticed they did not focus on the Cameras as a tool for Observing consumer behavior but were more focused on thefts. All international brands are no using cameras to their advantage and have installed eye detectors and Consumer Behavior Observation Algorithm like where the consumer is looking what are their expression while looking at the product, how long do they stare at the product and lastly their overall movement around the store. This could Help hyperstar immensely and they will know what products to place and where.

  1. Brands need to introduce new Methods of Marketing

     As I noticed majority of brands are still practicing old marketing methods like Ads on the walls or using standees. They need to work on the consumer experience once they see the product maybe screens showing ads of the products or something interactive for curious customers like me.

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