What is the identity of the future consumer? How can retail intercept new consumer purchasing habits? Answering these critical questions, which are key in finding a way out from the changed scenarios triggered off by the pandemic, is the “Future Shopper” live talk hosted in two parts on the Expo Riva Show platform, with the contribution of important retail marketing representatives and fashion system trend analysts: Maria Eugenia Errobidarte, Senior Consultant of WGSN, Karin Zaghi, Associate Professor of Practice of Channel and Retail at SDA Bocconi, Emanuela Prandelli, Director of Fashion, Design & Experience Management Master at SDA Bocconi, and Enrico Cietta, CEO of Diomedea.
Local and sustainable, aware and slow, and unexpectedly, considering the times we are currently living in, optimistic: emerging from the discussion of the first live talk, this is the identikit of the multifaceted consumer that the market must learn to intercept in the future. The context in which consumers are now immersed is increasingly phygital, characterised by the slow progress of the Local vs the Global trend, with greater attention to themes of Sustainability. E-commerce is increasingly dominating the scene, contrasting the speed of purchase with a more careful perception of the product. Despite the uncertain economic situation, optimism is a dominant attitude, above all amongst those who belong to Generation Z, with a consumer share that will be increasingly consistent in the future. Another factor characterising this scenario is the moving of the axis to Asia, which by 2040 will account for 40% of the world’s consumption.
Starting from these trends, Maria Eugenia Errobidarte identified the five types of future consumer: the Value Shopper, informed and aware, who rewards transparency, choosing brands and products that share in his same ethical and environmental values; the Local Shopper who is more closely connected to local realities that he knows and that are nearby, led by his emotions as well as the qualitative features of the product, becoming a guarantee of what he buys; the Slow Shopper, attentive to sustainability with a return to a less frenetic dimension when shopping, as well as someone who loves to savour the moment and share it with the community; the Autonomous Shopper, who has turned the isolation of lockdown into an autonomous, and preferably online, shopping experience. Finally, there is the Optimistic Shopper, who enjoys online shopping, while also hoping at the same time for a return to the physical dimension of shopping, in search of an experience that is more immersive and interactive.
How can retailers and brands reply to this new kind of consumer? Emanuela Prandelli indicates three pathways: sharing of values, personalisation, and the creation of positive experiences.
To the aware and responsible “activist consumer”, retailers and brands must offer a solid set of values that do not end with mere storytelling, but which translate into actions that reflect the consumer, going beyond the sustainability of the product to include social responsibility, respect for people and communities, but also decisive choices… a tangible commitment in demand above all by Generation Z. Connected to responsible consumption is the increasing popularity of second-hand, a market not to be underestimated, since by 2030, it will account for 15% of consumption, representing an entry point for brands to the primary market.
Likewise necessary will be the personalisation of products and services, to offer an exclusive shopping experience: aided by digital technology, it will be possible to engage with the consumer in a totally targeted dialogue, offering an experience that is full of emotive values, while creating a rapport of trust and loyalty. Consumers are willing to pay 50% more for a personalised product, which will offer not only a better fit, but also a perception of uniqueness and the pride of feeling like a self-designer. In luxury, however, the personalisation will have to be lower key, to not lose the recognisability of the brand.
Finally, the aftermath of the pandemic will force retailers to offer hygienic and safe solutions, which are contactless, and mediated through increasingly present digital technology in retail outlets. Despite consumers’ desires to leave fear behind and look forward optimistically to the future, they will seek experiences both on and offline that meet this expectation. Retailers will have to reply by developing playful pathways in shopping and online gaming, creating ‘dreamscapes’ with colours and elements that transmit positivity, while reinforcing optimism with a personal touch.
In conclusion, to successfully intercept the shopper of the future, retail will have to: offer personalised customer service; induce optimism; provide exceptional standards of hygiene; implement CSR strategies; and have a ‘digital first’ approach.