The hunter-gatherer in us all

shopping, fashion, shirtIn the most basic of human instincts we are hunters or gatherers and have been for ninety-nine percent of our million-year existence as a species. The gatherer selects, collects and presents while the hunter discovers, tracks and captures and is why the physicality of shopping is such an integral part of our modern lifestyle.

Notwithstanding technological advancements and a vested industry hailing online as the future of retail, there is little evidence it will satiate or pacify a common self-stimulatory demeanour. Online’s fundamental shortcomings are in alienating human interaction, the curtailing of communal predisposition and in failing to rouse primary compulsion. So too it can never replicate the stimulation of association, our aspirations for inclusion or in developing bonds of loyalty. All deflected by a facade of high-tech bling, the ever present threat of social estrangement and their trump card, the implication of missing out.

In a time of broadening emotional intelligence and sustainable business practice, the guru and advisor have acquiesced that cybersales will not replace traditional bricks and mortar as first anticipated. Expeditiously succeeded by their epiphany of omnichannel as the answer to retail’s woes is no more convincing. Retail’s misery is a result of silver-bullet distraction and a narcissist misconception of what matters.

Whether the gatherer selects or the hunter discovers both adhere to the same aspiration of choice, just as the gatherer collects or the hunter tracks, they are mere mutations of value. All culminating in collective possession when the gatherer presents or the hunter captures. These aspects endear the five senses we need for a balanced and healthy life. Either in excess or deficiency is detrimental.

Lincoln QuoteThere is a fatal error in the assumption that the world yearns for robotic preponderance by the technological elite who faces the same repercussions of a disaffected populace. Britain’s exit from the European Community pales in comparison to a technological backlash – Texit is imminent and unavoidable for the retailer who refuses to listen and sustain the integrity of their target audience. For the many who ply the trading floors of the retail world, there are already clear indications and feedback from the public, young and old alike, unhappy by currents trends of exclusion.

Human nature thrives on experimentation and we all love the folly of new toys and experiences until they no longer stimulate intrinsic needs. Retailers ignore human temperament at their peril – the rest ever mindful retail is and always will be, about people, for people, by the people.

Dave Farrell is a retailer and writer with three decades of experience on three continents. He can be reached at Freelance Alliance NZ on


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