Magazine article Marketing

Helen Dickinson on Retail: We're a Nation of Impatient Shoppers

Magazine article Marketing

Helen Dickinson on Retail: We're a Nation of Impatient Shoppers

Article excerpt

The idea that shoppers nowadays are no longer the predictable creatures of habit they were a couple of decades ago is nothing new.

However, just how much the UK shopping psyche has changed in recent times was brought home to me when I took part in the launch of a report by Visa, entitled 'Understanding Customers Every Day'.

It highlighted just how much information retailers can accumulate to help them understand their customers better. How that data is then used on a micro-level can directly affect the shape and feel of the shopping experience that they offer.

We no longer put aside a certain amount of time every week to undertake our shopping. We are well aware of all distractions and entertainments which modern-day life has to offer. Yet I, for one, had not stopped to consider just how much of a strain that puts on our everyday lives.

For example, the research suggests that, on average, every adult in the UK has a list of 18 outstanding chores waiting to be done at any one time, meaning that our personal lives are threatening to spiral out of control.

There are major regional variations, with people in the East Midlands having the biggest 'to do' list - with 24 outstanding chores - while Londoners have more light bulbs waiting to be changed than any other region.

All of this makes you realise that retail time - along with the time for so many other activities - is being squeezed more than ever before. In fact, the research goes on to suggest that, in the face of such growing time pressures, many people are making a real effort to divert extra time to spend with their families or other such 'quality-time' experiences. And whereas sometimes having the opportunity to indulge in retail therapy was once the holy grail, time-pressured consumers are increasingly yearning for priceless pleasures.

That single statement speaks volumes for retailers. All that micro-management of data and consumer insights needs to also aid the understanding of how UK consumers continue to change their mental approach to shopping - the macro picture. Such fundamental changes to our shopping psyche will necessitate some serious thinking on the part of retailers.

It's all about last-minute living. Leading less structured lives introduces a greater amount of flexibility and spontaneity into daily activity. This can seem like fun, as it leaves us with room to manoeuvre, indulging ourselves with unplanned activities. …

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