What’s driving today’s shopper profiles?

WGSN says consumer impatience, decreasing human engagement and a new green ethos are shaping the retail landscape.
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In its 2019 Shopper Forecast report, WGSN broke down shoppers into three groups: the “Speedy,” the “Introverted,” and the “Precyclers.” The consumer research company states that these constituencies reflect an “overall sense of unease” in the current consumer landscape. Using these profiles, WGSN looked at how consumers will shop in terms of expectations and priorities, making recommendations on how retailers can respond.

“Speedy” shoppers’ impatience should quicken the heart rates of many a retailer. Round-the-clock digital connectivity means this mobile-powered consumer wants something the moment they think of it, states WGSN. Tech is speeding up purchases whether through voice assistants, one-tap purchasing or smart checkouts. Some retailers are responding to this need for speed with mobile scan-and-go checkout options. For example, in November, Loblaws added a “shop and scan” app to its arsenal, testing the technology in five of its stores across the Greater Toronto Area.

Walmart is also adjusting to shoppers’ expectations by adding more horsepower through Jetblack, a members-only subscription platform that lets shoppers place orders by text in the U.S. And in Canada, the retail giant has partnered with Penguin Pick-Up to create co-branded grocery pick-up locations in urban cities for more seamless shopping experiences. Canadian Tire also added its own giant “click and collect” lockers in the fall of 2018. The retailer touted order process taking “less than a minute.”

Initiatives like these are part of a broader scheme led by retailers to streamline in-store experiences and ease pick-up and return headaches by “shortening the gap between inspiration and acquisition,” according to WGSN.

The shopping experience is also increasingly dictated by “Introverts,” states the report. When Gen Zers set foot in a store, they tend to know what they want and “don’t like to be bothered, even during the payment process.” Nike is tapping into this antisocial behaviour with a new store concept in Los Angeles, which accommodates shoppers who “dislike interacting with sales staff” by allowing them to make online reservations for shoes they’d like to try on in store. Lockers have been placed in the basement, where they can try on their reserved sneakers, all of which can be accessed through a separate entrance. Tiffany & Co. is also catering to the interaction-averse Gen Z crowd with perfume vending machines in its London flagship location.

And finally, WGSN points to the “Precycling” shopper segment, a consumer with a preference for purchasing “unpackaged, reusable or recyclable products.” Packaging-free aisles and stores resonate with these shoppers, who want to eliminate waste before it even happens. Toronto’s Unboxed Market is an example of the trend. It’s a “zero waste” grocery store which opened in January 2019 – all its wares sold sans packaging. Its customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable materials, from bags to mugs.

Retailers can tap into the packaging-free trend by improving on “company-wide education and practices to ensure goods are packed, sold and delivered in ways that aren’t harmful to the environment,” states WGSN. Consumers often want to be green, but don’t know how to go about it. The report suggests retailers use packaging, email marketing and in-store messaging to educate shoppers on how to recycle items.