Serving the ‘New American Shopper’

The new post-recession American shopper is high maintenance, promiscuous and demands an innovative and engaging experience in-store and online.

That’s according to a new study – released by Chicago-based Leo Burnett’s marketing services arm, Arc Worldwide – which asks, with consumers now at the center of the buying journey, how do retailers respond?

“The recession has forever changed people’s mindset about shopping,” said Dr. Alan Treadgold, Leo Burnett Worldwide’s head of retail strategy at Leo Burnett. “People have developed new rules for retailers. As a result, retailers must understand the changed role they play in people’s lives and meet their expectations to maintain customer loyalty.”

The study – “Re-Imagining the Retail Store” – identified five key findings retailers should note when implementing new strategies:

- Don’t let technology undermine the shopping experience: Retailers tend to view in-store technologies as a better way to connect with their customers, but customers don’t agree. People want to experience a seamless transition between the physical and virtual store by using technology, but they also want educated and friendly service when visiting the physical store. Technology is not a suitable substitute and this practice can damage an already fragile relationship.
- Shoppers are promiscuous: They shop around and their loyalty is hard earned. The recession has taken a toll on consumer confidence and people’s perceptions of retail business. Customer loyalty has to be earned by understanding in detail the expectations of the shopper and delivering every time.
- Price gets you an invite to the party, but not a VIP pass: Consumers will not accept a trade-off – low price vs. quality experience and merchandise. Today, people are more than happy not to spend if they feel that retailers do not give them a sufficient reason to purchase.
- Break the rules: There are two clear ways to win in store-based retailing – excel within your store archetype or take a radical path to greatness and create a new store format that breaks out of category conventions and delivers a unique experience.
- The basics are still sexy: It may not be exciting, but there is work to do and profit to be made from making the basics better. Retailers are struggling to get the basics right and people are visibly frustrated. Taking a page from “Retail 101” will help to improve customer appeal, retention and ultimately, profitability.

“The retail landscape continues to evolve and move further away from being just a place to purchase a product,” Treadgold said. “It’s an experience. As retailers listen to their customers and understand their behaviors, they can create an experience that people come back to time and time again.”

To view the complete findings from the study, visit and click “download the whitepaper."

In June 2010, Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults age 18 to 64 who shop regularly in at least one of the 40 retail stores targeted for the study. Each respondent completed a 35-minute questionnaire.

Leo Burnett Worldwide has created advertising campaigns for some of the world’s most valuable brands including Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, McDonald’s, Hallmark, Procter & Gamble, Allstate and Nintendo.

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