The evolution of shopper behaviour

Shopper behaviour used to be pretty straightforward. It was mostly predictable and easily understood. We had three basic modes of shopping.

Shopper behaviour in days gone by

Firstly, there was the “large weekly shop” which was mostly done in large superstores or hypermarket type environments – remember Tesco’s, Walmart and the other one-stop-shop specialists.

The second type of shopper behaviour was the good old “top-up”. This type of shopping mode was based on specific items that you required. Perhaps you forgot to buy the cat food – again – or you need tomato paste to make your world-famous pasta sauce.

Then there is the last of the common shopper modes, the daily grocery shop. This is what I think of as “the milk and bread run”. In other words, it’s when you pop into a local market or smaller retailer in order to purchase your day’s needs like bread and milk.

Status quo no more

So, three basic shopper modes, simple enough!

The not so great news is that shopper behaviour has evolved and continues to do so! This has led to many shopper marketers’ scratching their heads whilst trying to decode the shopper behaviour that exists in our modern omnichannel retail environment.

One of our resident experts, Toby Desforges explains some of the changes in shopper behaviour.

The first phase of shopping behavioural change is really quite subtle. Shoppers started learning about and pricing products online. Price comparisons became standard practice as did bargain hunting. Online retailers would be the go-to place for checking prices and traditional retailers were used as showrooms for checking out products that they may be considering to purchase online.

This initial change pretty much boiled down to price awareness.

Next, shoppers started becoming more sophisticated in their channel selection. Shoppers now had the power to make selections across channels and were able to break-up their shopping baskets. They could think about their product portfolio and engage in purchasing in a more sophisticated and interesting manner.

Subscription or specialist retailers could be used, like Dollar Shave Club or perhaps meal kits or purchasing unroasted coffee beans.

Details became important and super-niche retailers provided a specialised and personalised shopping experience. This change went hand-in-hand with the idea of a fragmented basket. This is where retailers really felt the pressure of competition as they could no longer rely on shoppers purchasing all their groceries from them.

Now for the third change in shopper behaviour – further integration of shopping in the home environment.

In the future, break between the behaviour as a consumer and shopper will be cut drastically. For instance, say you have finished the last of the cereal, the time it takes to write out a grocery list or logon to a website will be drastically cut. The ability to bridge the gap between consumption and shopping will be through the use developing technology in home electronics such as Alexa.

However, no matter the other changes, you will always need to understand who you are targeting as consumers and who you are targeting as shoppers. Then think about how their behaviour can be tracked and look for opportunities to influence this behavior in such a way to positively impact a brand.

To learn more about this, listen to Toby talk about Shopper behaviour in an ominchannel world. Simply login or sign-up for free.

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October 25, 2018