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The future of shopping – anthony norman

by James Simoniti , 08.11.2015

Retail has changed a lot in recent years, says Anthony Norman. We can now buy products immediately via one-click purchasing, a solution many retailers have adopted, attempting to work around the consumers’ busy lifestyles. This reflects the consumer’s primary need – convenience. Retailers and brands must be convenient – price is not everything! But what is the best strategy for ensuring convenience? The answer lies in Big Data.

GfK FutureBuy is a tool many brands use to do this. This solution monitors shopping across a variety of different markets, determining where retail is going. It also identifies ‘Leading Edge Consumers’ (LECs), who can be seen as ‘Tour Guides’ to the shopper of the future. LECs possess three key characteristics:

1) Early adopters – LECs are innovators that value new products or ideas before their time, and are predictive of the rest of the population

2) Influentials – They are leading indicators of trends, often being years ahead of the mainstream

3) Passionate shoppers – They are also emotionally connected to shopping and highly involved in the activity

Advancements in technology and the proliferation of different types of shopping have acted as catalysts for LECs, and the mobile device is now central to their lives. Of LECs:

  • 73% say the smartphone is becoming the most important shopping tool for them
  • 69% say social networks are becoming the most important things in purchase decisions
  • 59% want to pay via Near Field Communication (NFC)

In an age of mass mobile adoption, we can predict that LECs and Future Consumers will desire four things from brands:

1) Convenience

Convenience is king, and retailers currently winning are the ones who are delivering on this. One brand doing this is Sears. Through their app, consumers can order a product, park up outside the store, and have the item given to them within 5 minutes – or they get a $5 refund. Innovative strategies like this make it convenient to shop – and this is precisely what LECs want. Convenience will be vital for the Future Consumer.

2) Loyalty Through Personalization

Permitting involvement and allowing personalization in a drives consumer-brand loyalty. Walgreens incorporates this personalization aspect through its loyalty scheme. Here consumers can gain loyalty points with the company by living a healthy lifestyle – whether it’s running, cycling or giving up smoking. LECs have an appetite for personalization – 74% say they will be more loyal to brands they can have involvement in, compared to 42% of the total population. Allowing personalization of the brand will keep the Future Consumer loyal.

3) Technology

Through advances in technology, consumers can shop in new ways and engage with brands more easily as a result. An example of technology being used in innovative ways is Thomas Cook’s virtual reality holidays - potential holidaymakers are taken on tours of their favourite destinations on virtual reality headsets. In doing this, Thomas Cook are challenging, surprising and winning customers by enhancing their in-store visits. The Future Consumer will demand the latest technology enhances their shopping experience.

4) The Experience

The shopping experience is all about making consumers feel good. Rapha are one brand currently achieving this by turning shopping into service. Despite being a cycling retailer, Rapha’s stores have cafes with televisions showing live cycling. Entering the store is therefore an experience for the consumer, rather than simply a space to browse and buy products. Transforming shopping into an experience and a service will be extremely appealing to the Future Consumer.

Today, many of these things are being adopted by retailers around the world, but the desire for an ‘experience’ is already particularly notable with the younger generations of today. To these groups, shopping is seen as a social activity, and the experience is vital to the success of that. These groups also tend to have more money at a younger age, so this group is becoming increasingly important to retailers. The consumer of tomorrow is unlike the consumer of today. Brands must recognize this, adapt accordingly and follow four simple steps to win the Future Consumer:

  1. Engage them
  2. Surprise them
  3. Help them
  4. Work with them

By using the four steps listed above, brands will be able to capture the attention of the Future Consumer, and deliver everything they demand.

For more information please contact James Simoniti at james.simoniti@gfk.com.