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Value, trust and choice paramount for buyers, but different shopper tribes require a nuanced approach

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Online shoppers now have a range of tribal habits
Online shoppers now have a range of tribal habits

Customers are now more online, but they are also splitting into distinct tribes – all of which have different demands

Good value for money is a top priority for shoppers this year, with two thirds (67%) suggesting it has become more important since the start of the pandemic.


So warns research by Klarna, which surveyed more than 4,000 consumers across Europe, the UK, the USA and Australia to understand how shopping behaviour has changed over the past 12 months.


It’s followed by promotions and deals (60%), a good reputation and trustworthiness (60%) and having a wide range of products available (58%) — perhaps fuelled, in part, by shortages on the shelves earlier in the year.


But, while these ‘non-negotiables’ are consistent across the board, Klarna’s research reveals subtle differences in the priorities and preferences of five modern shopper tribes that alter the way brands and retailers should engage with them. These suggest retailers should shift away from the popular demographic-based approach to marketing and consider passions and personality types instead.


Outlined in a new report — Clicks and cliques: understanding modern shoppers —these tribes include:

  • Family Firsts: A family-focused tribe with a busy life that makes online shopping invaluable and interruptions unavoidable.
    • This tribe is most likely to be indifferent to who they buy from (30%), suggesting brands and retailers must work harder to keep them coming back
    • Over half (55%) say they are more open to trying new brands now than they have been previously — more than any other tribe
  • Aspirational Achievers: A financially comfortable tribe that tend to shop around and will invest in premium products.
    • This tribe is most likely to say they are loyal to a couple of brands and retailers that they love within each category that they shop, with 45% making this claim
    • High quality products are a must, with over half (57%) saying these must be offered by brands or retailers — more than any other tribe
  • Here and Nows: A tribe that lives in the moment, spending what they earn on the things they want and often finding inspiration on social media.
    • Six out of ten (58%) say they still want to treat themselves to nice items, even though they are going out less — more than any other tribe
    • They are more likely than any other tribe to turn to TV adverts for inspiration, with almost a quarter (24%) saying they do this
  • Savvy Fashionistas: Earning less than they’d like to, this tribe regularly seek inspiration online and look for hacks to help them get the best products and deals.
    • Savvy Fashionistas are most likely to buy more from brands and retailers that offer promotions and deals (45%) and that have a wide range of products available (45%)
    • They’re also most likely to consider it important for brands or retailers to offer flexible payment options (36%) — which encourage them to shop regularly (33%) and buy more (35%)
  • Conscious Consumers: Less focused on hitting life’s traditional milestones and living by the system, this tribe seeks fulfilment in pursuits like learning and discovery and shop as sustainably as they can.
    • Conscious Consumers are the only tribe to rely more on brand or retailer websites for inspiration than family or friends, with 36% ranking them as a top source — perhaps due to a need to validate information themselves
    • Trustworthiness and a good reputation are more likely to encourage Conscious Consumers to shop regularly with a brand or retailer — with 42% reporting this effect — more than any other tribe

Commenting on the research, Luke Griffiths, CCO at Klarna, says: “This year’s events have transformed the way we browse and buy, reinventing our relationships with brands and retailers and accelerating change at an unprecedented rate. Merchants must keep a finger on the pulse of their customers wants and needs and adapt their products and service offers accordingly to build a connection with shoppers to drive loyalty and, ultimately, sales.”


Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst and Founder of NBK Retail, adds: “The retail industry is no stranger to disruption, yet nothing in our lifetime has jolted the industry like Covid. As retailers look to navigate the new normal, resilience and agility will be essential for survival. There will be no return to the status quo. The days of being everything to everyone are well and truly over: in order to find their tribe, retailers need to be bold about who they are and what they stand for. Opportunities have emerged, enabling retailers to reimagine both physical and digital commerce for the future."


More than half of respondents said that an easy returns process (55%) and next or same day delivery options (51%) have become more important this year — naturally coinciding with 49% doing more of their shopping online and 44% doing most or all their shopping online now.


The ability to pay flexibly has also grown in importance, according to 45% of respondents — and this can be a real dealbreaker. Four in ten (42%) prefer to shop from brands or retailers that offer flexible payment options, while three in ten (32%) won’t shop from those that don’t.

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