WindowOn... The Considered Shopper (2012 Issue 15)

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The Considered Shopper the essential guide to shopper trends from Shoppercentric

Caring and cost: Can shoppers really care on a budget? Lost in labelling: Are today’s shoppers adrift in a sea of encouraging messages? Responsibility for responsibilities sake: How to prove you’re ‘doing the right thing’ The big high street debate: Making a local store successful Plus new Thought Pieces, The Gossip... and all the usual regular features and revealing interviews



oct 2012

oct 2012




In addition to the work we do with clients, three times a year we conduct our own research to explore the broader issues affecting shoppers. This time, we’ve been looking at how shopping habits have changed as a result of the recession and where ethical and environmentally friendly products fit in. In addition to grappling with the terminology – ethical; socially responsible; environmentally responsible; sustainable; eco-friendly – what struck us was the largely unspoken link between saving the planet and saving money. Buy only what you need and avoid waste. Hence ‘The Considered Shopper’. Our research involved two approaches: 25 respondents recruited to an online forum over a three day period



oct 2012

oct 2012



PUBLISHED BY: Shoppercentric

1000 online interviews among adults aged 18-64 who are solely or jointly responsible for the household shopping.

EDITOR: Alice Synge DESIGN: Mike Higgs


We welcome ideas for future articles and reports. Guidelines on our preferred format and style are available from Alice Synge e:

© Shoppercentric 2012 All copyright is vested in Shoppercentric unless expressly stated otherwise. No permission is granted for reproduction, use or adaptation of the material, save as to provide for under Statute, and any such use must be accompanied by the appropriate accreditation.

We are proud to lead the way in shopper insight. Our team has years of experience of putting the shopper perspective at the heart of a business.

Welcome... Trends Research... ‘Considered Shopping’: Caring or Cost? Danielle Pinnington,

Founder & Owner, Shoppercentric

Welcome to another edition of WindowOn... There is no doubt shoppers are having to be more considered in their shopping these days. The ‘have it all’ times have gone, and the ‘do I really need it’ days are here. And we’re all recognising the more savvy shopper who has emerged during the downturn. What is fascinating is that ‘do I really need it’ does not have to be a purely financial consideration and we suspect that shoppers are becoming more thoughtful in the decisions they make. Whilst ‘getting the most out of my money’ is a fundamental shopper need at this point in time, that need can be met by solutions that avoid waste. Shoppers are themselves making decisions around more prudent behaviour, so arguably it’s a relatively small step to cast an environmentally-friendly, socially-friendly, and sustainable light on that behaviour. It’s exactly this more considered shopper that we wanted to go out and meet in our latest trends piece. And we hope that what we’ve learnt proves thought provoking as you read through our magazine. To simplify things we’ve used the phrase ‘responsible’ in our articles to cover the whole gamut of environmental, social, and sustainable initiatives. Although we appreciate it isn’t consumer-speak it was a bit snappier and took up less space! Regular readers may also notice our magazine has bulked up a little this edition. We have added a number of new features which we hope you enjoy.


In these times of economic gloom, we investigate how shoppers are juggling the often opposing issues of price and ethics.

Responsible Labels: Which Ones Resonate with Shoppers?


Free range, Fairtrade, Organic, Recycled? We discover which labels are actually being sought out.

Making the Right Responsible Noise


Is everyone really prepared to ‘do their bit’ and should they be shouting about it?

The High Street: Who Really Cares?


We’re all talking simultaneously about death and rejuvenation. What is actually going on, and can it be turned around?



Thought Piece One 5 Kick-Starting In-Store Activation: Why Our Shopper Workshops Work Hard For Our Clients Thought Piece Two Observations on the European Retail Landscape


Regular Features... 7 Shopper Talk... 8 The BIG Picture... 15 NEW – The Gossip An Experts Own View... 16 From the High Street... 17

WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012



‘Considered Shopping’: Caring or Cost? In the two years since we last asked shoppers for their views on responsible purchasing the country has stubbornly refused to wade out of the economic quagmire. Many families have seen their incomes reduced whilst food and fuel prices continue to squeeze our disposable income. Does saving the planet have a role at a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet? By Claire Pearson


WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012

Issues on shoppers minds 41



% very concerned about the issue - Total sample

39 32

31 28




Global unrest

Crime in my neighbourhood


Global economy

The education system

The European economy


The local economy


The UK economy

Fuel prices

My family’s health


Global warming


Managing my household budget

The ‘big four’ grocery multiples are engaged in a price / value war, and there is a clear reason why: the greatest issue troubling UK shoppers right now is the management of their budget. “Instead of enjoying life, we have to worry about where the next pound will come from” was how one shopper put it to us. Closely tied in with personal budget concerns are worries about fuel prices and the UK economy. And this is all at a time when around a third of shoppers tell us they are having to make major changes to their spending.

So, we know the Great British public are working hard to get the most out of each and every pound, and the cost of living is a primary concern - one that is proving to dictate day to day purchase decisions. Is there enough flex for an environmentally or socially friendly agenda we wonder? The expectation has always been that responsible products will be more expensive so no surprises then that responsible considerations are often over-ruled by budgetary constraints. As one shopper said “I like to buy organic, locally produced food, but when I am short of money I can’t afford to look after ethical concerns”. However, despite this clear need to prioritise budgets, responsible considerations have not fallen by the wayside. We are seeing a real desire to do the right thing. Almost threequarters of our shoppers say they would be encouraged to buy more environmentallyfriendly products if the prices matched those of standard products. And it isn’t only a desire to do the right thing, shoppers are also actively seeking out the more responsible products. In the last two years the proportion of shoppers looking out for responsible labels on the products they buy has increased from 76 percent to 83 percent.

What is clear is that whatever the environmental or social conscience of the individual shopper, value for money is still of absolute importance. So responsible products have to deliver the right benefits for the shopper, not just the environment, a point neatly summarised by one of our shoppers: “Taste and price are always more important [than ethical purchasing], but if these things are right and there are two similar products then consumers will look for the better one e.g. Britishness, Fairtrade, free range.” In the contest between caring versus cost will the caring agenda always lose out? Will the shopper always have to weigh up environment against price? Perhaps not, because it seems to us that a solution that brings both considerations together may be staring us in the face. If shoppers need more encouragement to shop responsibly, then let’s outline the financial benefits of doing so by demonstrating ways to save money and increase value. This is, after all, their greatest concern. Story continues overleaf...

Factors that would encourage shoppers to buy more ethically









If prices matched those of standard products

If products were easier to find / see in store


If more choice was available in store

If there was more reassurance that products are at least as good as other alternatives

If knew which stores sold these types of goods


If easier access through other types of store (butchers, farmers market)


Local or national legislation

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‘Considered shopping’: Caring or Cost? continued from previous page

One of the big trends of the economic downturn is the desire to spend and consume prudently: avoiding waste; asking the ‘do I need it?’ question more often; cooking from scratch; and rationing energy etc. These are strategies employed to tackle the issue of a reduced budget, but as a result shoppers are behaving more responsibly, and making an inadvertent move towards more sustainable lifestyles. The interesting thing is that shoppers do not appear to be making the connection between prudent spending and responsible behaviours themselves. For them, being environmentally friendly is more about what they buy, rather than how they buy and consume. This might feel like splitting hairs, but it’s a crucial point for retailers and brands:

l Whilst some acknowledge that sustainability

is ‘living within your means, only using what you need’, something they may well be doing to deal with tighter household budgets, they don’t yet make the link that by avoiding wasteful behaviour they could be supporting the planet as well as their bank balance. So, in addition to convincing shoppers of the value offered by responsible products, perhaps a more far reaching responsibility for retailers and brand owners is to help shoppers make more connection between prudent and responsible shopping. In so doing, there is a chance that the environmental agenda starts to feel more accessible, every day, and top of mind - thereby raising the possibility that their behaviour and priorities can be shifted as a result. Ultimately it seems to us that retailers and brands still need to support, encourage and reassure the shopper of the value of responsible shopping to them as individuals, as well as the value to the planet and future generations.

l For the majority of shoppers being

environmentally friendly most readily translates into buying products that are more expensive Affording to Shop Responsibly

Attitudes Towards Responsible Shopping

It’s worth noting that responsible choices do not appear to be the preserve of those lucky enough to be unaffected by the economic downturn. In fact, it seems those who are the least impacted by the economic situation are also least concerned about responsible shopping. Whilst cost is bound to inhibit responsible purchasing for those most affected by the downturn, they continue to be willing to do their bit, where they can. So although we’ve said there isn’t yet a conscious link being made between prudent and responsible spending, it could be that a link is starting to develop subconsciously. Something a strong combined message from retailers or brands could help develop more quickly.

% agree / agree strongly - by key recession segments I don’t want to pay more for environmentally or socially friendly products if the taste/quality isn’t any better

70 57

I would buy more environmentally or socially friendly products if they were easily available

58 45

It takes real effort to be environmentally / socially friendly

53 38

I buy environmentally / socially friendly products because it means I’m doing my bit


I do my best to make as many of my purchases environmentally or socially friendly as possible


I used to do my best to make as many of my purchases environmentally or socially friendly as possible, but can’t afford to now



46 11

Key Have had to make major changes to spending


Features continue on page 6


WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012

THOUGHT PIECE ONE Written by Kristen Davis


Kick-Starting In-Store Activation: Why Our Shopper Workshops Work Hard For Our Clients Although we’re big fans of the focus group and in-depth interview sometimes there’s a need for a more collaborative, speedier, less conventional session that allows for real time client interaction and immediate cross-pollination between different customer bases. That’s where our shopper workshops come in. Increasingly our clients want immediate, directional feedback on one or two key elements as part of the research process or as a one-off boost to aid thinking outside the research parameters. With a two week turn-around our workshops provide the perfect springboard for this kind of developmental feedback.

non-customer views or perhaps different channels, retailers or attitudes. The workshop approach gives us the flexibility to ‘re-cut’ the tables during the session. We can deliberately create ‘friction’ by mixing brand lovers and haters or different retailer customers to amplify the issues and opportunities for different audiences

Our most recent sessions focused on a variety of different elements of the in-store shopper environment e.g. inspiration for a new store experience & layout; how to bring a theoretical product segmentation to life on shelf; refining a new POS package across three target audiences; creative development of a new communications strategy for an existing brand and the online and in-store communications that best supported the strategy; understanding and developing creative territory for a new online food retail offer; developing the in-store communication principles for a healthcare product.

Whichever way the cake is sliced, the aim is to create as many views and reactions as possible to gain the healthiest perspective on the next move for our client. We believe we get more out of this workshop approach because in addition to Shoppercentric Directors facilitating (and listening), we encourage our clients to take part in the discussions. Ideally we have one to two clients sitting on each table representing multiple areas of their business. This means we have the shopper, the researcher and the business all in one room sharing a common goal.

In every case the workshop session is tailor-made yet the fundamental approach will remain constant. That is, we typically conduct an intense, task orientated, three hour session amongst the appropriate shopper audience using a well-planned, co-creative approach with a fun, informal, upbeat style. The session consists of four to five task ‘chunks’ each designed to answer a specific client dilemma or provide inspiration for the creative team. Usually we recruit between 20-30 participants with up to six respondents sitting on a like-minded table. The tables are ‘cut’ according to the dimensions we are exploring, for instance, customers versus

But beware - the workshop approach comes with challenges. In most cases the workshop is a one off so there’s only one chance to ‘get it right’. Planning is everything and our best workshops have been those where quality stimulus has been agreed well in advance. This allows for the most innovative task design to push shopper feedback beyond current knowledge or intuitive hunches. Ultimately we design our workshops to feed the research process rather than provide the final answer. They are most definitely not a short-cut to deeper qualitative methodologies but they are a welcome tool in our on-going efforts to match shopper needs with commercial pressures.

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Responsible Labels:

Which Ones Resonate with Shoppers? Today’s products are labelled with all manner of badges, seals and promises, each promoting a different responsibility. But which do shoppers really care about? By Penny Ericson

There are a myriad of labels that shoppers could look for when choosing to buy responsibly, and it is often felt that the sheer scale of choice prevents some shoppers from getting involved. So it’s worth reflecting on which labels are resonating with shoppers. Which are the labels that potentially add value to a brand or support brand affinity? What we’ve learnt is that shoppers are most likely to connect with labels that have either a functional or an emotional benefit to them. If a label has a benefit then it can be more easily incorporated into the value equation used when deciding what to buy. The labels that have either stayed strong or seen some growth since 2010 include: free range, Fairtrade, recycled, bio-degradable, dolphin friendly and farm assured. Each of these can be seen to have either a functional or emotional benefit to the shopper. l Functional Benefit: such as better taste,

or easier to dispose of l Emotional Benefit: where the consumer

feels good about their decision because their spend is going to support producers or animal welfare, for example


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When the benefit is clear to the consumer then the issue shifts from ‘why should I?’ to ‘why wouldn’t I?’ High profile celebrity chef campaigns have achieved that shift for free range in the eggs and fresh chicken market, to the extent that there is some frustration that more isn’t being done to reduce battery farming: “We only ever buy free range eggs and chickens, as battery hen conditions continue to be a disgrace.” Responsible labels search out when choosing what to buy - Total sample 34 32

Free range Fairtrade


Locally Sourced Organic Recycled Dolphin friendly / MSC


Environmentally friendly Biodegradable Farm Assured Sustainable Sources Non-GM Rain Forest Alliance Renewable Energy Sources Soil Association Carbon Trust Carbon Trust Std None of these

2 2 2

9 9 8 8 8 7 6 5 5 5 5 4

17 15

22 20 21 21 20

14 13 14 11 13 2012 2010




Shopper Talk... Real words from the high street. Brought to you from the keen ears of the Shoppercentric team...

Fairtrade is also frequently sought out by shoppers. Here shoppers get to feel good about their purchases, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get better taste. Other labels also proving popular are those to do with recycling. This is no doubt driven to some extent by local government initiatives around refuse collections, but it demonstrates how different parts of the jigsaw, when joined together, can impact on shoppers / consumers. In short, if it makes life easier, of course it’s good: “Packaging is a good issue, there must be something done to cut down on some excessive packaging or use something that can be easily recycled. Most people are lazy by nature and don’t want the hassle of seeing whether it can be recycled, so if it’s immediately obvious it saves time and more will be done.” On the flip side, it is the labels where the value or benefit feels much less tangible that are of least interest to shoppers – after all, how exactly does Soil Association approval impact on the food a shopper buys? The same is often also said about organic, which has traditionally been a sector where premium pricing was the norm, so a challenge in both in terms of pricing and lack of tangible benefit. The bottom line for responsible labelling is that if it is designed to drive a change in shopper behaviour then there needs to be a clear benefit to the shopper – whether from a functional product delivery angle, or a more emotional feel good perspective. We need to remember that the days of buying a label for a label’s sake are gone - responsible labels need to justify their raison d’etre as much as any other.

I prefer to do my shopping online – you usually save money and it’s hassle-free. I do go to my local high street too, but it’s usually more of a social thing. I think the way ahead is buying from farmers markets etc. It means you know the prices are fair and are going straight to the producer, obviously not possible for everything but for many things this can work. I try to buy what I know I will use so that there is no wastage. It’s not about cheapest, it’s about value for money. No point buying cheap if the quality is dreadful-that’s really not cost effective. I am more frugal now and have a cap on my weekly shopping. Once upon a time, I could buy what I wanted, but those days are long gone. Now I buy the same things most weeks, mainly smartprice and store brands. The Olympics and all other events are distractions but they do not address the fears and anxieties and real concerns of so many

And on a lighter note… I like to feed my dog a particularly nice pet food as I get more affection from him than I do from my husband! Discount shoppers all wear their slippers to the shops! If only all segmentation work was as easy as this respondent suggests!

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WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012

thebigpicture By Sharon Hodgson M&S’s huge new eco-friendly flagship store at Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port makes a stunning first impression – from the striking architecture (sweeping roof and open beams) to the beautifully merchandised homewares department that greets you on arrival at first floor level. As well as its impressive sustainability credentials, including hemp wall panels, the store offers all sorts of high-class treats, such as Savile Row inspired suits framed in walnut fixtures, a mouth-watering deli and fresh pasta bar, and online browsing hubs peppering the sales floor to facilitate the omni-channel retail experience. However, this magnificent prelude sets the bar so high that as the escalator swept my mum and me down to womenswear on the ground floor we felt mildly deflated. The visually arresting theatre in menswear is curiously lacking in womenswear, with a rather conventional display of racks and fixtures which “could be anywhere”, as my mum remarked. There is little doubt that this store is impressive, not least because of its Plan A commitments. However, the particular importance of creative merchandising in women’s fashion should not be underestimated in order to achieve a consistently memorable shopping experience that lives up to this fantastic setting.

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Making the Right Responsible Noise Whose responsibility is it to behave responsibly?! Are retailers, manufacturers and shoppers all ‘doing their bit’? And when it comes to responsible behaviour, are retailers engaging with shoppers in the best way? By Danielle Pinnington

Over a third of our shoppers say they would be encouraged to buy responsible products more frequently if they were easier to see in store and there were a larger range, so the logical conclusion would be that retailers need to do more to shout about their ranging initiatives in this area. Yet take a walk round most of the big grocers and you’ll see that communication in-store about food origin and environmentally product is there. So why aren’t shoppers appreciative of these efforts? There are potentially three factors at play: l Shopper blinkers: Shoppers have an annoying tendency to wear blinkers, focusing on the features in-store that are of most interest to them. As discussed in our earlier article, responsible considerations aren’t necessarily top of mind, so messaging relating to these is easily overlooked l In-store signage noise: To be fair to shoppers, even without blinkers they’d be hard pushed to see responsible messaging amongst the morass of price or promotional signage l Cynical about sincerity: Even when shoppers are confronted with examples of in-store communication there’s almost a default mode of cynicism, with retailers and brands struggling to deliver a sense of sincerity


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If you ask shoppers to name retailers’ or manufacturers’ sustainability initiatives it appears to be TV ads that get you noticed – eg M&S Shwopping or Walkers’ British potatoes. This reinforces the thought that the retail environment is currently too busy with price messaging for an ethical message to get across. If shoppers aren’t taking much note of responsible communication in-store, does it matter how business behaves? After all, the fact that most shoppers are using supermarkets for the majority of their shopping means they are happy to make the most of what supermarkets have to offer. And yet there is a sense shoppers do feel that supermarkets are too powerful, too focused on profits and may be making ethical noises but lacking real commitment. As one shopper put it “I do wonder if it is possible for some of the big companies to ever be ethical and I also wonder if those that are promoting ethical values are just doing so as a gimmick to try and sway shoppers to their products. Large companies and big profits do not seem to me capable of being truly ethical.” The milk price furore is a very current example of the business forces in play behind the supermarket scenes. Shoppers are quite circumspect on this particular issue: they

recognise that consumer pressure for low prices has contributed to the problem, with over 60 percent saying they would be willing to pay a few more pence to see farmers get a fair deal. But over 80 percent think the supermarkets should reduce their profit margin and pay the farmers more and over 70 percent think the supermarkets are too focused on profits. “If a penny or so a pint is added, this would make a very small increase in weekly shopping but would make a worthwhile extra income to ensure continuing production in this country. I really do not want imported milk.” Reactions to the milk crisis - % Total sample Agree Strongly The supermarkets should reduce their profit margin to pay the farmers more


The supermarkets are to blame –they care too much about their profits I would be willing to pay a few more pence for my milk to ensure the farmers get a fair deal The milk processors should also look at their costs

As consumers we are partly to blame – we demand low prices









Cut-Out and Keep



So, what do shoppers want from retailers and manufacturers? l Equal measures: They do not expect retailers and manufacturers to do everything. Most shoppers feel that responsibility for environmental protection and sustainability lies in equal measure with the government, retailers, food producers, manufacturers and the general public l Be thoughtfully proactive: The baseline for retailers appears to be treating suppliers ethically and using local suppliers where possible – being proactive rather waiting for a public backlash to take action

At the end of the day shoppers believe manufacturers and retailers should behave responsibly as a matter of course so that the decision to opt in, if you like, is taken away from financially constrained shoppers. As one of our shoppers put it: “Companies seem to be jumping on another faddish band wagon instead of actually encouraging and selling really good fresh local products.” Shoppers expect companies to live and breathe responsibility through their products and their processes, not simply through a corporate PR campaign.

The Considered Shopper – Useful Questions To Ask Yourself l If we have an environmental/social/ sustainable positioning, how are we communicating that to our shoppers?

l Is there a link we can make between saving money and avoiding waste, or supporting responsible consumption?

l Do shoppers know our responsible positioning?

l Is any price differential justified from the shopper perspective?

l Is it clear on pack or at the fixture which products are supporting which issues?

l Are we connecting with the considered shopper?

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The HighStreet: Who Really Cares?

Remember the days of ambling along your high street, basket in hand laden with carefully-selected local produce, lovingly-wrapped by proud shopkeepers who waved you off with a cheery goodbye, some great gossip and a secret recipe tip? No, neither do we. It’s easy to picture the scene, but the reality is often far removed from this idyll. By Iona Carter

The retail world has moved on from the halcyon days of the local butchers and bakers: the development of supermarkets introduced us to the concept of one stop shopping, whilst the internet has given us 24/7 retail. Add to this the economic downturn and times really have changed. Our local shopping parades are all but gone, and it’s currently our town high streets that are the source of much concern. With almost one in six of high street shops reportedly empty and a seemingly never-ending run of ‘disappointing’ results for our high street retailers, it’s understandable that the Government would appoint a High Street Tsar. The twelve Portas Pilot Towns have been revealed and with a prudent budget of £1m to share between them, there are already press reports of councils failing to understand the Portas principles and of profiteering landlords. So, this clearly isn’t an easy fix… but what is


WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012

the shopper view? Are high streets a case of Do Not Resuscitate? Unfortunately, it would seem that shoppers are increasingly ambivalent about supporting their high street and local businesses. Of all the shoppers we spoke to almost one in four said they were using their high street less often these days and only 17 percent said more often, so hardly a rallying cry in support. Change in usage of local high street / market

Will About use the same more



Will use less


% total sample

There are widespread issues which are preventing high street shopping being more appealing, and the very appearance of shops boarded up can be off-putting. However, some of the most common complaints are about the shops being too expensive or not being relevant to shoppers needs – a view especially prevalent at the far ends of the age spectrum. So, whilst some factors can be attributed to the infrastructure, it would appear that the shops themselves have a role to play. When household budgets are under pressure most shoppers have little room for sentimentality and supporting the local community. Shoppers don’t expect high street retailers to offer the lowest prices, but fair prices and relevant ranges have to be fundamental elements. Will use high st. less because... The shops are too expensive

% 48

Too many shops have closed


I’m just trying to save money


The shops aren’t relevant to my needs


The parking is too expensive


It isn’t easy to park

24 22

The shops do not represent good value The shops do not have good quality items I don’t like the atmosphere It’s too far It’s too busy I don’t feel safe there Other

15 9 8 7 2 4

Will use high st. more because... I want to support my local town centre/market

% 52

It saves me money because things are cheaper there


It saves me money/petrol because it’s closer

46 32 27 26 25

It saves me time I like the variety of shops and products The people are friendlier It saves me money because there is less temptation I enjoy the atmosphere I get better quality products Other

24 23 2

What’s more there are clear areas where high street stores can make a point of difference versus the competition: l Easy access: The financial savings, and

environmental ‘feel-good factor’ from shopping locally rather than driving to out of town retail parks or malls l Premium service: Genuine, warm customer

service and expertise can be factors that really set high street independents apart from the competition. As shoppers we take it for granted that online retailers like Amazon will welcome us by name and make recommendations for us… but think how delightful it is when your local bookshop does the same in person. As the major multiples in all categories increasingly see the role of bricks and mortar stores as offering a real experience worth visiting for, then this has to be the same view of the smaller chains or independents on our high streets.

Ultimately, those high street stores that can deliver relevant ranges at a fair price with the added benefit of ‘an experience’ will win out.

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THOUGHT PIECE TWO Written by Susie Spencer


Observations on the European Retail Landscape Perhaps not as bad as you think… At a time when many of our UK high streets are looking neglected and unloved, it’s worth taking a trip to the continent to remind ourselves that our stores are often a cut above what we see in the rest of Europe. l With a raft of entrants from the continent arriving

on our high street over the last decade or so you could be forgiven for thinking we fall behind our European counterparts, but our experience from talking to shoppers would not necessarily bear this out l Undoubtedly we have seen pockets of real

excellence, but it has to be said the reality is that many European high streets are starting to look distressed and low end, with stores often overstocked and on permanent discount l In these tough economic times many of the

European stores we visit seem to have lost sight of what sets a shop apart from an online retailer, and how to capitilise on that point of difference. l Even with the increasing prominence of the

internet in many of these markets, shoppers still want to be able to feel, handle, try or interact with the physical product, they want to see what it’s made of or how it fits, and in the case of investment products to talk to someone


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l Price and value are no longer key drivers to

stores – shoppers want one on one advice and visually impactful product presentation, something they can’t get on the internet. Yet service and visual merchandising increasingly appear to be neglected in many European shops l In particular our department stores look

increasingly ahead of those on the continent, and the likes of Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis should be commended for keeping ahead of the times, maintaining the clear point of difference stores have over the internet, and for the most part, delivering what British (and European) shoppers want, and something which increasingly feels unique to our high street – strong customer service and impactful and often engaging visual merchandise l Our final observation is that while the department

store culture in the UK may give us the edge over other European markets, the continental supermarkets often appear to set the benchmark for food retailing (exciting products you can’t buy anywhere else, food counters to explore and discover) – where even in a local French supermarket up in the mountains you can buy a lobster!

Perhaps there are still lessons to be learnt after all.

Compiled, conjured up & cobbled together by 34 Go Mad at Kew We came, we saw, we conquered! The poor people at Kew Gardens endured our entire motley crew a couple of weeks ago when Team Shoppercentric descended on the Royal Botanic Gardens. What a fantastic day out! We can thoroughly recommend Kew for its glass houses, treetop walkway, children’s play areas and wide open spaces. We had a feast of a picnic supplied by a local deli and had an all-round wonderful time in the September sun. Store Visit: Wilko - Crawley When we heard that Wilkinsons was opening a new concept store, the first under the name ‘Wilko’, and the first multi-channel store, with Click & Collect and wifi, we had to go and take a look. First impressions are striking. Externally the store looks very different from your average Wilkos – it’s all wood cladding, silver lettering and department store style window displays. Once inside, a real feeling of light and space has been achieved with shelf heights much lower than normal. The good sightlines from these lower shelves, combined with cutesy sayings and graphics on the walls makes store navigation a doddle. The store has been zoned clearly and many departments have really impressive displays. The paint display upstairs was particularly fantastic, although a shame we couldn’t find the interactive ‘Shape Your Space’ area, supposedly a touchscreen interior decorating aid. We were, in fact, quite underwhelmed by the whole m-commerce thing, this being a designated multichannel store, we were expecting a little more. As it stood, the Click & Collect area was hidden away in the corner and the primary wifi promotion was right by the escalator, not a place you are likely to be browsing the online catalogue. We look forward to seeing how customers enjoy the new format, and seeing how Wilko develops its plans for roll-out.

Store Visit: Mothercare - Edmonton In September we were excited to visit the new Mothercare flagship store in Edmonton. We were pleasantly welcomed into the impressive space by smiling staff handing out bags for our purchases. The store is bright and spacious with a slick and modern upmarket feel. The messages written on the walls ‘Mothercare: made in England, born in 1961’ and ‘For that wonderful, frustrating, hilarious, exhausting, rewarding process called parenting’ definitely made us feel that Mothercare does understand, and gave us that warm, fuzzy feeling towards the brand. The signposting between the clear ‘worlds’ was great, and the whole store was injected with fun and personality: the lift wasn’t just a lift but a rocket too; dressing up had been renamed ‘Action and Adventure’; and the toy department, complete with castle, was kid heaven. There were some disappointments though: The buggy testing track, a great idea in itself, had been poorly executed with astroturf, brick paving, and some gravel-print laminate. We’re pretty sure that smooth laminate flooring will not replicate the conditions of gravel! Other niggles were the meager six parent and child parking spots which seemed a little lacking for a parent and child shop, and don’t even start me on the ‘pound in the slot’ trolleys… not the best when you’re battling with a wriggly baby! Still Flushed From Olympic Fever Did you run to the end of your street and cheer on the torch? Did you have iPlayer continually rolling in the background at work? Did you stand on your sofa and do the ‘Mobot’? Did you go in person and see real live events? Bloody brilliant, wasn’t it? Quite a few of us at ‘Team SC’ watched live events and between us we managed to contribute to the roars of the crowd at the athletics; show jumping; hockey; beach volleyball and water polo. Iona was even interviewed live at the stadium for BBC Radio Cymru. To be honest it was hard to get off the subject of Olympics at team meetings! Only complaint it seems was that many of the on-site shops had run right out of merchandise for that all-important souvenir… See? I brought it back to shopping in the end!

WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012


An Experts Own View Name: Sam Hindle Job Title: Category Controller Sector: Frozen Ready Meals

We talk to Sam Hindle of Kerry Foods for this latest issue of WindowOn. Sam shares some thoughts on the fast developing sector of frozen food.

The frozen meals market has evolved more in the last two years than in the last decade. A couple of years ago if you were approaching the end of the weekly family shop you may have had a few frozen products on the shopping list to pick up: a bag of peas; a beef lasagne and some fish fingers. However, confronted by icicles trailing down the freezer cabinets and a wall of boxes you just grab the essentials and head straight to the tills. Why would you browse frozen meals? Today there are a raft of new ranges all designed to recruit shoppers into the category and challenge preconceptions. We’ve seen a massive shift towards products packaged in sleeves, a range architecture that reflects shoppers’ needs, the remerchandising of fixtures to make it easy to shop by occasion and retailers actively marketing the category. Getting the simple things right in a category can deliver a real difference. And who would have thought two years ago that paella would now be outselling beef hotpot.

Although at polar ends of the frozen market, both Iceland and Cook are best in-class for in-store execution. Each retailer adopts a very different approach: On the one hand, Iceland’s in-store theatre is centered on a very clear ‘more for your money’ message, whilst Cook take a more natural farm shop look and feel. What do both retailers have in common? Both know the needs of their shoppers inside out. Understanding the purchase triggers and barriers of frozen ready meals has been the key driver of change. Change which has seen Kerry Foods launch new ranges and new brands (Hungry Joes; Made For You). It’s the process of turning insight into action where true category growth can be unlocked. Number one attention grabber in-store recently has to be Morrisons bumble bees. When these standalone freezer units are branded with POS, bumble bees are a great vehicle to take frozen out of frozen, interrupt shopper flow and drive category penetration. It all boils down to trust. Instilling trust in our category has been a huge challenge, but we’re on a journey that’s definitely heading in the right direction.


WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012

An Independent Retailer Perspective

A View from the High Street Clare Rayner, Retail Champion, and drive behind the Independent Retailer Month, talks about standing out from the crowd on the high street. There is no escaping the news reports about the doom and gloom in the economy, how consumer confidence is at an all-time low, how high street vacancy rates are at an all-time high. Smaller, independent retailers are battling with a number of key issues that mean they’re having to work harder than ever before and make less money for their efforts. Three of these main issues are: Cost of property – rates and rents are high; rates are the highest they’ve ever been and keep on rising. The cost of having property is a major barrier to new businesses opening retail premises or existing retailers looking at expansion. It also means more and more retailers are withdrawing from physical premises and turning to online only Competition – when smaller retailers try to compete on price it’s a downward spiral as there will always be someone bigger, with greater buying power and deeper pockets who can undercut them Credit availability – many retailers are struggling to get reasonable credit terms to support their seasonal stock purchases. Suppliers have had their own credit insurance reduced and in turn can’t offer better terms to smaller businesses. Small retailers turn to personal financing to make up the shortfall, or go without key lines. The impact of this means they may not be able to present the ideal range to their customer, losing out on sales and loyalty.

But it’s not all gloomy! Smaller, independent retailers can be successful in spite of what appears to be an impossible task! Those who are doing well have something in common – a relentless focus on service and experience. It’s clear that these elements are key factors for success. It’s about a ‘less is more’ approach – if a store can’t compete on price then really the only alternative is to compete on service, to target a customer who values what an independent can offer. It’s not about securing the fickle, price sensitive, transactional customers who shop around but about attracting and retaining the higher spending, loyal customers who will love the product, superior knowledge and advice, the shopping environment and tailored customer care. It’s about making those more discerning customers (who are less plentiful, but considerably more profitable) feel that they are ‘in safe hands’ and that the store where they spend their money has a ‘nothing will be too much trouble’ attitude. All customers, including those with money to spend, are more cautious about who they spend it with in the current environment. Success will come to those that are working hard to win the trust and thus the long term loyalty of the few, higher-spending customers who’ll really value their unique offer. So to sum up in a few words? It’s tough, it’s the toughest it’s been in as long as anyone can remember, but those who will be successful won’t compete on price, instead they will focus on service, thus becoming well positioned to secure high-value, loyal customers who’ll spend more, more often.

WindowOn... Issue 15, October 2012


thelastword... We thought we’d let our clients have the last word by telling you what they think of us...

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I think the workshop presentation was a real turning point for the category and our whole strategy for our brand. Category Manager, Health Care Manufacturer

Thanks very much for your hard work in pulling this presentation together. I was very pleased with how it went. Head of Insight, Packaged Food Manufacturer

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I really liked the way you presented the data – not the typical 150 bar charts we get from others. Shopper Insight Manager, Small Electricals

I’m really excited about the learnings, this is cool stuff, really actionable.

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