With technology at our fingertips in the shopping aisle, a shifting economy and drastically different generations, today’s consumer presents an evolving identity. For retailers, adapting to shoppers’ new habits—especially digital ones—requires flexibility and broad thinking.
As the National Retail Foundation suggests in the introduction to its latest report, Retail Insight, “Today, modern retail means omnichannel—regardless of the business or how it sells. Modern retail goes beyond minding the store—it’s building a brand that engages and serves customers seamlessly both online and offline.”
Consumer optimism is up and consumer spending is in line with pre-recession trends, says American Lifestyles 2014, an audit report from Mintel. Yet, in Deloitte’s 2014 Outlook on Consumer Products,
they identified a few rising challenges:
- The recession mindset isn’t gone and frugal behaviors still prevail. (Think loyalty cards, store brands, shopping lists and coupons.)
- For the third year, brand loyalty is declining.
- The digital age has rapidly changed where and how consumers make purchases.
Who is Shopping?
Everyone, to a degree, is spending, but women lead the way with the bulk of buying decisions. In fact, estimates from Fleishman-Hillard claim that women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. in the next decade. In Nielsen Company’s 2013 data, women spent more money than men per trip in every retail channel, outspending males by $10.32 each grocery store trip and by $14.31 in super centers. However, men’s visits to retailers are on the rise while the number of trips made by women decreased from 2004 to 2012. Beyond gender, Millennials continue to shake up the marketplace, making fewer shopping trips but spending more each time.
A step beyond multi-channel retailing—creating a seamless consumer experience through any and all shopping channels: mobile, tablet, computers, brick-and-mortar stores, television, radio, direct mail and catalog.
The Rise of the Smartphone
55% of retail Internet time begins on a smartphone or tablet
44% of all retail Internet time is on a smartphone (up 17% from 2010)
21% of e-commerce purchases were made on a smartphone in early 2013
57% of smartphone users, while in the store, visit a retailer’s website to check for online discounts
43% of smartphone users, while in the store, visit competitors’ sites to look for a better deal
25% of smartphone users, while in the store, look online for in-store coupons/discounts
25% of shoppers use smartphones to take photos of products
17% of shoppers use smartphones to text, call or send a photo to family/friends about a product
6 out of 7 consumers have researched products online before buying in a store
Welcome the Phone
Consumers using a smartphone during their shopping trip purchase at a rate 40% higher than those who don’t use a device. Source: The New Digital Divide
The biggest shift comes from more consumers using the Internet both before and during their shopping excursions. Digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar consumers spend in the retail store, according to Deloitte Digital’s 2014 study, The New Digital Divide. The number of consumers who use the Internet while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores has doubled, according to Cisco Consulting Services’ latest research, IoE for Retail Industry Study. And the smartphone is on the rise as a research and shopping tool. See a customer in your garden center using their phone? There’s a good chance they have a question; help them out.
What’s Happening in the Garden
In general. The good news is that more households are digging in and gardening. In the 2013 National Gardening Survey, they recorded a 2% uptick (an additional 2 million) U.S. households participating in do-it-yourself lawn and garden activities. Average spending, though, remained the same, at about $347 per household per year. And it may be the Millennial generation’s affinity for food gardening driving much of that growth.
Where? The National Gardening Survey launched a new line of questioning about where consumers shop, proving that the market share rests in the hands of the mass merchants and home improvement stores, which combined for 47% of the share. However, when evaluated by age group, the numbers reveal a different story, with Millennials favoring their local hardware stores above all else. Only 17% shopped local garden stores.
Who? While Millennials may be leading in terms of shopping local and with participation increases, Baby Boomers still have a solid footing as steadfast lawn and garden products consumers. Proven Winners surveyed consumers who signed up on their website from July 2013 to June 2014 and the largest section (48.1%) of their surveyed audience came from the 45 to 64 age group. Still, most self-identified as weekend gardeners and more than half were new to the Proven Winners brand.
The mobile factor. Back in 2011, when Michigan State University examined mobile and desktop searches for garden products, more than half of consumers said they had searched online for gardening information. At that time, only 18% had made a garden-related purchase online. Fast forward to 2014, when the retail industry as a whole is dealing with rapidly changing online consumer behavior, and you can bet those numbers have increased. Expect (and encourage) garden center customers to use their smartphones in the store, make sure websites are ready for mobile traffic and that new customers can find your website, social media channels and/or directory listing when they search online.
Gardening will always mean hard goods and live goods, and consumers are open to all that gardening has to offer, but they expect you to greet them—online and at the door. GP