• Business planning and strategy

Don’t Get Left Behind: Keeping up with Consumer Trends

Guest Blogger | February 28, 2014

The retail landscape looks quite different today than it did 10 years ago. The way that consumers shop has dramatically altered; from shopping on the high streets, to out of town shopping centres to more recently using the World Wide Web to find purchases.

Now, it is seen as the norm for family and friends to automatically weigh-in on shopping decisions via social media. The same goes for customers who stand in store using their smartphones to compare prices and product reviews, before going ahead with purchases. These shifts mean that retailers need to keep up with the trends in consumer shopping habits otherwise they will miss out on opportunities.

As many customers do not exhibit strong brand loyalty, they may frequently switch brands as perceptions can be easily distorted. It is important that retailers find approaches for creating customer loyalty, although Facebook and online engagement do not play a significant role in the direct sales process at present they allow for customer relationships to be built.

As consumers can be unpredictable with their purchasing habits, it is important to defend your market position and maintain your competitive edge by keeping ahead of the competition. Here are a few ways to keep ahead of your rivals:

  • Know the competition. Find out who your competitors are, what they are offering and their unique selling point (USP). This will identify the areas you need to compete in and also give you a platform for differentiating yourself.
  • Start Marketing. Make more effort to tell people who you are, what you are selling and why they should buy from you. Your marketing can range from billboards, leafleting, media advertising and online.
  • Look after your existing customers. As they will be your competitors target market! Provide excellent customer service by being more responsive to their needs and expectations.
  • Target new markets. Selling into a greater number of markets can increase your customer base and spread your risk. Consider selling online or overseas for example.
  • Look to the future. Businesses that plan for growth are more successful than those that are happy to stay still. Keep up with developments in your sector, follow consumer trends, invest in new technology and –crucially – have a clear idea of where you want to be in one, three and five years’ time.

A company that has successfully managed to react to their consumer spending habits explain that although they have had to relearn areas of business it was needed to keep their customer base happy.

“I understand retail business but I’ve had to reinvent and relearn when it comes to the web,” said Mark Richardson, managing director of Wynsors World of Shoes.

“From doing so we have seen a migration (of customers) from stores to the web; the internet is a big growth area for the business. We are really happy with how we are doing on the web and we will keep reacting to our consumer purchasing habits.”

Written By: Karl Young, Search Laboratory, Leeds, United Kingdom, http://www.searchlaboratory.com