Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb

A study done earlier this year by Wharton marketing professor Stephen J. Hoch and Edward J. Fox, a marketing professor at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, addresses the aspect of “cherry picking” — shopping done by well-informed, proce-sensitive consumers who go from store to store to find the best bargains. The short form? The money saved is well worth the time spent seeking deals.

Parallel to our recent online event with Paul Williams and John Moore, the resulting paper considers the role of customer loyalty — and the characteristics of three kinds of shoppers: store loyals, store switchers, and cherry pickers.

Cherry picking is worth it because of a combination of factors. When people go cherry picking, two things happen: They double the number of discount opportunities that will be available to them because they go to two stores. And, because stores have deals on more than one item, that expands the opportunities for cherry pickers to save money. The second thing, the thing that really makes cherry picking worth it, is that these shoppers buy more items than other shoppers. To make cherry picking pay off, you have to buy a lot of stuff. Cherry pickers … plan in advance to buy a lot. They save a lot not only in percentage terms but in dollar terms, which is what really counts.

Instead of trying to fight cherry picking, which is seen by some retailers as an irritation, the researchers suggest that store owners embrace it — and seek ways to encourage cherry pickers to buy even more once they’re in the door.

Even if you’re not in the retail business, does cherry picking play a role in your work?