eBay’s ‘The Art of Shopping’ gives retail euphoria

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Buying has gotten a little bit boring. Generally I buy, a beige box turns up, and another mundane but essential product has turned up. Today on London’s Mortimer Street I visited eBay‘s ‘The Art of Shopping’ which changes the dull experience and brings a breath of fresh air to shopping. It’s the world’s first subconscious shopping experience, which is open to the public today and tomorrow. (If you’re in London make sure you drop in!)

Curated in partnership with Saatchi Art, The Art of Shopping hooks visitors up with an electroencephalogram headband which gauges your reaction to the exhibits and from that figures out what will inspire you when shopping. It’s an experimental space bringing neuroscience and art together to deliver an inspired and personalised shopping experience, neatly showcasing the vast colourful array of products that eBay’s 200,000 business seller in the UK have to offer.

eBay conducted groundbreaking neuroscientific research into how beige shopping vs inspired shopping can either deliver moments of fatigue or prolonged highs in the brain. Partnering with mind-tech experts, MyndPlay, data analytics collated from EEG (electroencephalogram) monitoring and qualitative data unveils some astounding insights about how Brits can put the inspiration, satisfaction and pleasure back into shopping.

Shop-y-cats vs Inspired Shoppers

The exploratory experiment uncovered that British buyers psychologically fall into two opposing behaviour sets:

  • Self-confessed ‘Shop-y-cats’ who make up nearly half (49%) of the population, admit to often buying items for themselves simply to fit in and ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Mostly men, these, shop-y-cats experienced a short-lived rush at check-out after making a purchase, observed behavourial psychologists
  • 82% of Shop-y-cats also felt the pressure to fit in whilst browsing increased mental fatigue by 30% every 10 minutes
  • This is in sharp contrast with Inspired Shoppers who embrace a more intuitive approach, purchasing unique things they truly want, as an expression of their individuality. Brain monitors showed that 84% of Inspired Shoppers experience a prolonged mental high, nearly twice that of shop-y-cats and comparable to a Formula 1 driver finishing a race.

‘The Art of Shopping’ Experience

Anyone that knows me will know that my reaction to art is general indifference, so this was always going to be an interesting experience. I was first hooked up to a headband and ear clip to monitor brain activity and my reactions to the exhibits.

First up are some tablet experiences, some are games, others are simply interactive art which changes as you touch the screen. The aim is to relax visitors and empty their minds to prepare them for the art but the results (at least for me) were still interesting as it measures your response to each game.

Visitors then move into the art area where you’re free to wander around to look at various images and sculptures and again your reaction is monitored. Frankly there were two pieces I loved and others that I definitely hated, but all were interesting and thought provoking. Afterwards talking to others I totally missed the detail in some exhibits but spotted things some people missed. The whole aim is getting into the inspiration zone and achieving optimum enjoyment, which simply requires shoppers to maintain a mindstate of being present, still and calm.

It’s an enjoyable experience and well worth a visit whether you’re an art lover or not. One thing that The Art of Shopping did show me is that, given the right relaxing circumstances, I can change from a Shop-y-cat to being an Inspired Shopper.

“Shopping is personal. It’s a reflection of what makes you, you. eBay is encouraging Brits to reject the boring and beige, and to stop shopping like everybody else. Instead, we want shoppers to be bolder and express their individuality. This fascinating research gives great insight into the highs that can be achieved when you hit the zone of inspiration and shop like nobody else.”
Rob Hattrell, Vice President of eBay UK

The results

Once you leave the exhibition area and are unhooked from the tech (which by this time you’ll have forgotten you’re wearing), you’ll get an email showing your activity and response to each exhibit and a selection of items on eBay that your reactions suggest will inspire you.

For me this was the really surprising part of the experience – one of the products was a gas fire pit and those that know me will know how much I love a fire in the garden. Quite how viewing a colourful array of art could find products that really did inspire me I don’t know, but it certainly worked.

What’s it all about?

The whole aim of the eBay’s ‘The Art of Shopping’ experience is to encourage a more personal, colourful and unique shopping experience. Even someone like me who is an unapologetic shop-y-cats can become an inspired shopper if I relax and take time to enjoy the experience. Shopping has become boring, a one click beige box delivery of something that you need but don’t desperately desire is the norm. eBay want to set themselves apart as a place where shoppers can have fun, be inspired and above all enable you to have a personal shopping experience and find products that are uniquely ‘you’.

This is not a campaign aimed directly at sellers but if consumers become engaged with eBay then the more they spend on the site and the indirect benefits to sellers are obvious. It’s part of a much wider campaign to showcase eBay as an inspiring exciting place to shop and, at least for me, it worked.

Visit The Art of Shopping

If you’d like to visit The Art of Shopping, it’s open from noon today and tomorrow (3rd – 4th October) at 2 Fitzroy Place, Mortimer Street London W1T 3JE.

4 Responses

  1. Good to see ebay concentrating on fixing existing issues and shortcomings first…. oh no lets just forget our core and go on a unicorns and rainbows trip into another idea…. which will be rushed out and ill thoughtout. Full of glitches, errors, more hoops to jump through and…. oh, you know where im going with this?!!!

  2. one whiff of smoke in my house from an unthoughtful neighbours’ fire and I am dashing off a letter of complaint to the Enviromental Officer of the local authority…don’t do the fire pit thing, stick to the barbie!
    Interesting research by ebay, with smart tv capable of recording your every expression and google seeking patents for software that records and analysis your facial expression it easy to see where all this is heading….look forward to EyeBuy, when if you linger for more than 10 seconds the item is added to your basket – the ultimate in inertia selling , but of course the BigBoys will argue that you really, really want it, you just didn’t know it.. god save us.


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