Future shopper

Pen Stuart writes:

The Futures Company’s recently published thought leadership report The Future Shopper helps map out the rapidly evolving retail space from the perspective of the shopper, and understand how to take advantage of the opportunities it opens up. These changes go a long way beyond digital and social technologies – they are part of a change in shopper mindsets as well.

The report was co-written with Kantar Retail. One of the themes we explore is what shoppers are looking for in the changing retail environment, and how they have been re-shaped since the financial crisis:


The recession gave people in developed markets permission to focus on value. For many this has embedded habits of using price comparison tools that are  unlikely to disappear even when economies improve. In emerging markets, most shoppers expect to have to be resourceful. But even as growth in their markets pushes them into the new middle class, their shopping behaviours persist.


Shortcuts and sharp practice by suppliers in both the developed world and emerging markets mean that it’s harder for shoppers to know they’re getting what’s promised on the tin. A range of scandals, from food contamination fears in China to the horsemeat issues in Europe, make them increasingly sceptical of brands and retailers. Offering guarantees, and finding ways to rebuild relationships of trust with shoppers becomes vital.

Mental space

Convenience used to be about saving time. Now it is about trying to reduce the clutter of information and opportunities to focus on what really matters. This includes looking for simpler shopping experiences. Retailers and brands need to revisit categories to see how to reduce the time and effort shoppers spend engaging with the category, without weakening their affiliation with the brands.


A focus on value has shifted the way shoppers think about quality. Now they are looking to trade off higher quality in areas they care about (witness the rapid growth of organic baby food) with lower quality in areas they are less engaged with. This is polarising many categories, often to the benefit of private label, forcing many brands and retailers to reconsider how they segment value in their markets.

The report explores how brands and retailers can respond to these challenges. If you want to read more, it can be downloaded here. Alternatively, if you prefer to listen to a presentation, there are recorded webinars from both the UK and the US.

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