This means that shoppers are making new decisions and value calls based on financial factors, sustainability, health and ethics.
Our research has shown that the average consumer is spending $573 with retailers during the holiday season. Parents and older millennials will be spending the most, with partnered adults with children spending $779 on average.
However, it’s how they’re choosing to spend this money that has shifted.
We found close to half of the shoppers surveyed will take into consideration a retailer’s ethical practices when deciding where to spend their money.
More than half are open to giving and receiving home-made gifts, and one in two are likely to make purchases based on their perception of what is ethical, sustainable or environmentally friendly.
Shoppers were more likely to choose retailers who have responded well to the pandemic and who provided support for their staff and customers during the pandemic (48 percent); whilst 42 percent of shoppers will avoid retailers who have laid off staff or reduced staff benefits during this time.
Creating a compassionate workplace in a retail environment can be challenging, but it’s doable. It all starts by being compassionate from the very top of the organisation, to the managers and workers on the shop floor.
Accenture found shoppers were more likely to choose retailers who have shown a commitment to sustainability (33 percent), and 43 percent of shoppers would consider reducing the amount of plastic they use, or even choose plastic free when shopping.
As customers begin to appreciate more about their own carbon footprint, they begin to look at buying locally sourced products – even if it’s in a globally branded store.
The broadening consciousness of consumer preferences around sustainability can also be seen in attitude to waste, with two in three shoppers indicating they will be trying to limit food waste.
Here we can see the convergence of two impacts of the pandemic – a renewed emphasis on thrift and the emergence of “cottage-core” values that saw people turn to sourdough baking and vegetable gardening in the midst of the lockdown months.
Adjacent to this ethical concern and community-mindedness is a new consumer focus on responsible health measures. Our research found that between one and two thirds of consumers (32-63 percent) would be deterred from in-store visits by perceived threats to their health like lengthy queues, a lack of worker PPA, and a failure to mandate masks.
While the evolving nature of health threats means that different measures will be required at different times, the clear message here for retailers is that they must be perceived as responsible and proactive around staff and customer health to retain their market share.
Thinking local, but shopping global
There are competing pressures on customer mindsets, with global retailers – particularly through ecommerce channels – offering both value and safety for budget-conscious customers who are disinclined to visit crowded bricks and mortar sites.
While one in three consumers – 34 percent – say they’re concerned about the threat of global brands to national and local retailers, one in four say that they have been attracted to the variety global retailers offer and are buying more from them.
While ecommerce has rapidly accelerated throughout the last 12 months, our research indicates that the majority of festive shopping – 74 percent – is still happening in-store, with many consumers purchasing both online and in person. However, safety will remain a pressing concern for many, with 66 per cent expecting hygiene and safety products to be made available for public use and a further 63 per cent want visibility of cleaning and sanitation practices.
There are different lessons here for retailers depending on their position in the market. Global retailers and large conglomerates can use their variety, buying power and sophisticated omni-channel offerings and delivery networks to capture the appetite for choice and value.
Local independents can foreground their personal connections, their place in the community and their status as small business owners to capture the “close to home” sentiment that consumers are displaying.
Retailers operating in shopping malls and as part of national networks can offer comfort and return to normality after a torrid year.
Steps to sustainability
Creating a sustainable retail strategy doesn’t just keep shoppers happy. It will also help retailers transform their business models and guide them through a post pandemic world, where opportunities and avenues for growth will become even more competitive.
This will require focus and reviews of any current internal sustainability strategies, including procurement, supply chains, energy, logistics and marketing.
Retailers need to get creative with their plans and make them actionable to ensure competitive advantage. They can create strategic options by focusing on issues that act as a barrier to the choices they create.
As customers push for conscious shopping habits this holiday and beyond, retailers must be able to meet their demands to become a conscious, ethical and sustainable part of their customers’ world.