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New insights for multichannel retailers into how consumers buy: research

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There are useful insights into some of the factors driving shopper behaviour in three pieces of research out this week. Here’s our summary.


Eight in 10 shoppers now describe themselves as environmentally aware, according to the latest report from Shoppercentric. Its WindowOn… Shoppers and Sustainability research questioned 1,018 UK adults about their attitudes to sustainability. It found that 80% would now describe themselves as being environmentally friendly, and 82% say they take into account whether an item is environmentally friendly before they decide to buy. More than half (59%) say they also avoid particular types of packaging. That’s especially true for older shoppers. More than half (58%) of this group would choose products that are packaged in an environmentally friendly way; the same is said by 40% of those aged between 18 and 24. Ninety-two per cent of those older shoppers would like to see paper bags replace plastic for fresh produce.

“We need to consider what’s required to change generational learnt behaviour – to buy necessity goods in ’sustainable’ ways,” said Jamie Rayner, managing director at Shoppercentric. “Cost reductions are used to seek that competitive edge and as a result price has become an overriding factor in shoppers’ product choice – but it doesn’t have to be that way. We believe that there is an opportunity for brands to go beyond price, and reintroduce other equally important values. Since we last looked at this area of shopper behaviour nine years ago we can see significant positive changes have occurred.”

So how can retailers respond? Avoiding single use plastic would be a preference for 42% of shoppers, while 43% would opt to buy easy-to-recycle packaging options. Some 29% say they always look to buy fruit and vegetables loose. 

Visitors from China

A growing number of Chinese tourists and students are visiting the UK, with visitor visa numbers reaching 1.5m in 2018 and growing by 18% in the year to June 2019. Meanwhile Chinese student numbers are up to 106,000 from 95,000 last year, a new study, Retail lessons from China and how to sell effectively to Chinese audiences in the UK, suggests. Growth is put down to the fall in sterling and America’s trade war with China.

The research, from Adyen, Global Blue and Emerging Communications, suggests that 43% of retail and hospitality businesses believe that Chinese consumers are important for their business, while 42% think they need to improve the customer experience they provide for international shoppers. 

“With Chinese tourists budgeting more than £5,300 per trip and rising numbers of Chinese nationals entering the UK in the last year, the potential opportunity for businesses is too big to ignore,” said Myles Dawson, UK managing director at Adyen

Domenica di Lieto, founder of Chinese marketing consultancy Emerging Communications, said: “It should be remembered that Chinese consumers are the most sophisticated in the world, and the top brands try to sell to them every day. They are quick to distinguish between those that have put careful thought into trying to attract their money, and those that use clumsy translations and blunt promotional messages. To make a retailer stand out it should demonstrate heart and sincerity behind its sales proposition. It is this authenticity that Chinese consumers buy into.”

Adyen and Emerging Communications are speaking in an InternetRetailing webinar tomorrow, Tuesday September 24 at 2pm. Find out more and register for the webinar here. 

Stockpiling for a no-deal Brexit

Most logistics and supply chain managers predict that the general public will panic buy and ahead of a no-deal Brexit. Research carried out ahead of logistics event IMHX found that 63% expected the outcome, while 58% believe there will be disruption to the food supply chain leading to prices for some fresh produce going up. Added to that, 79% said they were worried about the extra time and costs involved in moving goods in and out of the UK, while 77% were concerned about extra bureaucracy, and 59% about restrictions on customs and imports. 

“The lack of clarity and uncertainty that still plagues Brexit continues to cause angst amongst the logistics industry,” said IMHX event director Rob Fisher. “A no deal Brexit could still be a reality on October 31, despite the passing of a bill to make it unlawful. If this happens, the logistics and supply chain industry predicts a chaotic outlook with the public panic buying and stockpiling food and other goods. The logistics industry is the backbone of the British economy, feeding into the retail industry, which is the UK’s biggest sector employer. If anyone knows what they are talking about, these guys do, and I fear their concerns are more than justified.”

Peter Ward, chief executive of the UK Warehousing Association, said: “With the prospect of a No Deal Brexit approaching, the delayed date for withdrawal from the EU couldn’t have come at a worse time. We have clear evidence of stockpiling food and other goods, and at this time of year warehouses are habitually filling up for the traditional peak period, ramping up for the Christmas season that now includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“This period has always been challenging, not just in terms of available warehousing space, but also in the recruitment and retention of the additional labour required – a situation which has been exacerbated further by Brexit and the so-called ‘Brexodus’ of Eastern Europeans from the sector since the referendum.  Given the well-documented critical shortage of fit-for-purpose warehousing close to technology enabled consumers who shop ‘little and often’ and on-line, Brexit is fuelling a perfect storm in the warehousing and logistics sector.”

Image: Fotolia

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