With technology driving major changes in retail and consumer expectations continually rising, staying competitive in today’s marketplace undoubtedly poses a challenge. This means that keeping on top of consumer trends is a must. With this in mind, here are five shopper habits that brands should be aware of right now.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
The path to purchasing products and services now includes considerable online research, meaning that consumers are more empowered and educated than ever before when it comes to price and value. Figures cited in the latestRetail Trends report by KPMG reveal that 81% of shoppers do online research before committing to a purchase, and over a third (36%) of 25 to 34-year-olds in the UK use review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
ShopSavvy, an app that allows users to scan product barcodes in order to run price comparisons, is a testament to this trend. The tool has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
AI ON THE RISE
Consumer use of artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise, with more people using features like smart speakers when shopping online. Research carried out by YouGov found that smart speaker ownership in the UK nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018. And it’s predicted that voice-controlled shopping will explode over the next few years, driven by the use of smart speakers at home.
Chatbots are also an increasingly important feature of the shopping experience, and according to Gartner and Juniper, these tools will be involved in 85% of business-to-consumer interactions by 2020. These programmed robots give businesses the chance to provide a personalised customer experience online.
Companies like HelloAva are capitalising on this development. The skincare specialist helps consumers to determine their skin type by answering a series of chatbot questions via SMS or Facebook Messenger. The bot then recommends specific products based on the answers.
THE PUSH FOR LESS PLASTIC
Sustainable shopping is now a priority for many consumers, with Unilever figures suggesting that a third of shoppers buy products based on their environmental and social impact. The drive to cut plastic waste is a particularly hot topic. Dubbed the ‘Blue Planet Effect’ after the BBC documentary that highlighted the effects of plastic waste on the oceans, this trend has resulted in many consumers being willing to pay more for recyclable and eco-friendly products.
Frozen food specialist Iceland is one business that is well aware of the power of this effect. It has pledged to eliminate plastic from its own-label products by 2023.
The decline of bricks and mortar retailers has been a dominant narrative over recent years, but there are signs that things may be changing. Research suggests that consumers are spending more money on experiences, often then posting about them on social media. Recent figures from Barclaycard showed an increase in spending in pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas and a slight drop in spending on vehicles, in department stores and on household appliances.
By providing consumers with a more entertaining, immersive experience, retailers stand to entice more people into their shops. Ikea is a good example of this. The retailer hosted sleepovers at a number of its stores that gave people the chance to test out its furniture, enjoy pampering treatments and get tips from sleep experts on how to get a good night’s rest.
Photograph: David Parry/PA
THE DEMAND FOR SEAMLESS SHOPPING
To fit in with their busy lifestyles, consumers are increasingly looking for frictionless shopping experiences. They want products and services to be delivered as quickly and simply as possible, freeing up more of their time for their work, family and social lives. Retailers that can provide a seamless shopping experience are well placed to capitalise on this.
Amazon is aiming to do precisely this with its checkout-less Amazon Go stores that maximise convenience by eliminating queues. Shoppers simply scan an app when they enter the stores and are automatically charged for the items they take.
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