Consumers are first and foremost humans. Impacted by the world in which they live, the people around them, their personal situation and their psychological and emotional state. The global pandemic has created a sudden and unexpected change in how we live, work and shop, driving huge changes in behaviours and habits. Some of these behaviours will be forced and temporary. Others may remain. But at a deeper level, motivations, values and attitudes are shifting and will impact consumer purchasing decisions now and in the future. It is more critical than ever to understand how consumer psychology is changing and respond with agility to these shifts to succeed in retail.
How a consumer’s mindset influences purchase intentions
To engage consumers and provide them with what they need and want, we must first understand people holistically. Their motivations, fears and desires, their values, attitudes and beliefs. Without this, the factors that drive purchasing, the why, what and how they buy cannot be understood. And if this is not understood, then brands will struggle to know how to adapt and respond with empathy. For some brands this knowledge will mean survival but for those that do this well, there is a great opportunity. Guiding your customers through these uncertain times, engaging with them on a deeper level and delivering memorable experiences could build relationships that last long into the future.
Understand customer needs on a deeper level
Emotions are currently heightened and shopping mindsets are more thoughtful, considered and conscious. Fear and uncertainty creates a craving for security, safety and reassurance driving a default to the trusted, familiar and known or demand for greater information and reassurance throughout the path to purchase. For some identifying and selecting the right product is challenging, overwhelmed by too many options, creating paralysis to choose. The human interaction and personal advice from a physical instore experience is missed and therefore more guidance, recommendation and information may be needed to select items that are perfect for their needs. Others are looking for meaning and products that enhance their lives. For these customers identifying and articulating how the products add value is crucial. And the interest in brands that stand for something more continues to grow, placing greater scrutiny on environmental, social and ethical credentials that demonstrate a greater purpose beyond profit. Without a clear and authentic purpose and easily accessible, open and transparent information brands may well be at risk.
Personalize experiences as well as recommendations
With just a few examples highlighted here, it is clear to see that the range of factors that influence purchasing is complex and differs greatly by individual, category, mission and journey stage. Consumers want to be treated as individuals and for brands and retailers to recognise their unique needs and make them feel understood, supported and valued. Appropriate product recommendations, relevant information, content and communications are critical to surface in the right way, at the right stage of every single journey. Without this, the customer may shun the brand, struggle to navigate ranges, have a needlessly long or frustrating journey, lack confidence to purchase or end up with an item that doesn’t meet their needs.
If there was ever a time for understanding needs and using this knowledge to personalise the experience it is now. Combining a deep understanding of consumer psychology with data and insight enables the experience to be redesigned, tailored and transformed. Expectations of an effortless, intuitive, inspiring and personalised experience are here to stay and only those that can deliver this will thrive. Whilst retail is currently tough, opportunities do exist to improve, build and grow brands for the future.