Changes to shopping behaviour
Changes to consumer shopping behaviour will influence how retailers shape their future businesses according to James Murphy, CEO Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, who says the only thing that hasn't changed is the why - people still love to shop for shopping's sake.
- Who? There is a new democracy, especially in fashion consumers. Fashion is ageless, fashion is classless and fashion is brandless. Just look at the "Prada to Primark" phenomenon.
This continuation of "masstige" has seen H&M produce a glossy, brand-focused magazine that's full of the Swedish chain's store news - globally. Ditto, see Wal-Mart's aspirational ads in US Vogue.
- What? There is an explosion of choice. It would take over a year to actually taste all the different variations of coffee available in Starbucks. Consumers want choice, but not that much choice is the reality. Similarly eBay still leads the way and will be the number one internet retailer for years to come. It's ad slogan "Don't sit on it, sell it" is influencing everyone around the world and how they shop.
- When? Consumers have to shop weekly but we are easily led into additional purchases. People are influenced into an impulse buy every week - by marketers and brand promotions in-store. Anything over $30 is considered a premium purchase by US marketers who push for more, more, more shopping promotions in-store.
But flexible, time-saving shopping is also important. Look at how 7-Eleven in Japan has become even more flexible, responding to its customers' needs by launching a flexi-format store with completely moveable units depending on what people want to buy at different times - day or night.
- Where? The supermarket or big boxes dominate and increasingly offer everything, so people are encouraged to only shop in one place. Pensions from UK supermarkets is just the latest offer to get consumers to stay brand loyal.
- How? We are all researchers online. This has made the world full of experts. The value of online transactions is dwarfed by the associated value of the influence on purchases made offline.
Consumers can decode marketing messages and this influences how they shop. They are aware of the rise in ethical brands, for example American Apparel promoting itself as a sweat-free brand; Carrefour's brand focus online is ethically aware; M&S food advertising is focused on ethical product and initiatives - the retailer won the Responsible Retailer of the Year award at the WRC's Global Retail Awards for what judges called M&S's "clear commitment to making a difference".
- Why? is still the main goal of shopping. This hasn't changed. People need stuff. Shopping is still a transactional, experiential pastime and this is where retail brands can arguably add the most, both in terms of reinforcing the brand message and being profitable.
Zeitgeist retail trends to watch
Miriam Sultzman, executive vice president of JWT, talked about the zeitgeist for retail and beyond. Her three trends to watch are: complexity and simplicity; the new antisocial; brand sluts.
- Complex issues are normal, this is the "me me me" generation, consumers want everything to be about what they want. Complexity takes time, attention and energy. But consumers have some key coping strategies, they are either surfers, in control or useless. Corporations can do much to help - they can simplify their offer by helping the consumer master complicity, therefore putting them into the surfer category, which is better for corporations with much to offer.
- The new antisocial points to the fact that consumers are becoming more antisocial, driven by the ease of technology and economics. There is a trend for more individualism. Personal values rule, not social ones. At the end of the day, consumers are their own brand. The mantra is increasingly "my brand that I care about" and "me not we". Consumers are the ones making the decisions. Corporations can't get away from the consumer attitude that is "what have you done for me lately?". But is it the end or the beginning of antisocial behaviour - does this spell the end of community spirit?
- Brand sluts epitomise that brand loyalty is so last century. Consumers are promiscuous shoppers. Smart consumers aren't loyal - Apple is one of the world's few exceptions. Loyalty schemes are deemed stupid and consumers say "they cost me money". Controlling your own brand loyalty is like controlling your own love life. The increased trend for commoditisation and brand inflation have led to greater information access - see the growth for expert and comparison websites - so little trust in corporations means that consumers value the opinion of their neighbours, but on a global scale through the internet.