WSL Strategic Retail CEO outlines 5 factors influencing consumers


PHILADELPHIA — Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, walked attendees of the 8th Annual Emerson Group Retail Industry Day through research on shopper attitudes and examined the possible ramifications of the growth in adult-only households.

Liebmann addressed five factors influencing shopper behavior.

First, she said, are population shifts and how they’re helping to reshape retail. Most marketers grew up in households represented by two adults, two kids, a dog and a cat, Liebmann said.

“Today, that’s not the case,” she said. “Many of the retailers we talk to still feel more comfortable living in that age, the memory of when they grew up.”

Today, however, adult-only households make up the majority of the American market.

“That notion of one-size-fits-all doesn’t fit anymore,” she said. “And in the end, channels will be impacted,” Liebmann added. “As these segments become more diverse, the challenge for the retailer becomes much harder because it isn’t this traditional singular order of retail channels anymore. We have big, different segments of shoppers, preferring different types of retail.”

Second, she noted, the new value equation is helping to influence shopper behavior.

“Where are people spending?” Liebmann asked. “They’re spending more in restaurants, in recreational retail [like] hobby stores, game stores, places where there is an experience attached to it. They’re even spending more now on travel — experiences, not just stuff.”

Third, shoppers today are looking for “easy.”

“It’s not only about price today, it’s about making my life easier,” she said. Shoppers are primarily seeking solutions to their stress. “Which means when we think about shopping and retailing and our brands and the packaging and the way we present it, it’s all about this notion of how do I make it easy for this person, who actually could buy anything, anywhere, anytime, any day; how do I get them to think about me?”

Fourth, personalization is shaping the shopping experience.

“In a world of technology, we can now do this where we really couldn’t before,” Liebmann said. “This notion of ‘all about me,’ but not just a singular ‘me,’ the many different ‘me’s.’” It’s not enough anymore to simply ascertain a singular customer demographic, but to determine the why behind the buy. “This is only the beginning. The algorithms that we think about that allow us to customize a deal, shoppers are asking for more than that from us.”

Finally, success in serving the shopping experience comes by thinking small, Liebmann said.

“It seems a heresy to say we have to think small, but we really do,” she said. “This is about a fragmenting world, a world where one size no longer fits all. This is about a world not of one big retailer and one big brand and one big population segment. … For most of us in this room, we’re still trying to create the simplicity of a one-size model, and it can’t be anymore.”

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