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Raydiant, which describes itself as a "digital signage and in-location experience management platform," is out with its second annual State of Consumer Behavior Report, concluding that "the public still craves in-location experiences," that despite the pandemic and its implications, "there will always be a large segment of the money-spending public that wants to experience life outside of their computer screens.

"The goal for big box stores, retailers, entertainment venues, hoteliers, restaurants, and others who depend on in-person experiences remains the same: Create an experience so memorable that a customer will put aside their concerns and return to your location."

Here are some of the survey's findings:

•  "Many consumers still prefer shopping in person. 46% of respondents said that given the choice, they prefer to shop in person rather than online. This represents a 9% decline from our previous State of Consumer Behavior 2020 report."

•  "Customers still prefer the experience of interacting directly with products. 33% of respondents prefer shopping at physical stores because they like to see and feel products, while 26% enjoy the overall experience of shopping in person."

•  Because of the pandemic, "40% of respondents have visited physical locations less frequently since Covid-19 hit."

•  "Brand loyalty is lacking. 48% of respondents said they have replaced products they typically purchase at physical stores with competitors’ online alternatives. 25% said that they switch brands more often today than ever before."

•  "Positive offline experiences can make a big impact. 90% of consumers say they are more likely to return again, 61% of consumers say they are likely to spend more at a location and 65% of consumers say they are likely to spend more online with a brand - all if they have a positive offline experience."

KC's View:

Whatever the numbers, it doesn't take a ton of imagination, much less a survey, to conclude that a) people have shopped in stores less since the pandemic hit, and b) people would love to go back to stores but are more likely to do so if presented with a reason.  Y'know, like a more compelling shopping experience.  (I can certainly understand why a "digital signage and in-location experience management platform" would want to come to this conclusion.)

In fact, that's been the argument here pretty much since day one - and that the pandemic actually gives retailers the opportunity to re-evaluate their value propositions and figure out what is both essential and compelling, so they can make changes in their business models.

The real challenge is to create a new store model - it cannot simply be the box of the past.  It has to be something more adaptable, more nimble, more fluid.

One conclusion that I did find to be a little jarring was the notion that the pandemic actually has reduced brand loyalty, which strikes me as being counterintuitive.

Interestingly, National Public Radio's Marketplace had a story about how online shopping and the "fast and efficient behavior" created by it actually has illustrated why the 40,000 SKUs carried by most physical stores may be too many.  

Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group, told Marketplace that "when ordering online for delivery or curbside pickup, 'people will buy the brands that he or she knows. They might not buy new brands'."  And Doug Baker of FMI-The Food Industry Association, told Marketplace that "a website search bar lets shoppers focus only on what they want," and that a result has been that manufacturers “immediately started looking for slower-moving items that they could suspend.”

All of which sounds like greater brand loyalty to me.