Marketers should take note of the shift to the mindful consumer

A project looking at the future of Britain reveals a shift from the mindless to mindful consumer as households react to the long-term economic slump by making substantial changes to their shopping patterns, management of household finances and aspirations.

Mindi Chahal

Looking at sales figures and quarterly reports can only go so far in assessing the health of a brand whereas insight into the people buying the products can give qualitative data to see underlying issues behind consumer spend.

The Future of Britain research aims to do that. Consumers have been asked to state how strongly they agreed with 12 statements concerning retailing in Britain and there is strong evidence to support the suggestion that major brands should seek to tailor their business operations and brands to cater closely for local communities.

The most pressing concern among shoppers is the threat to small retailers from larger chain brands. British shoppers also clearly value local retailers and are concerned that local communities should benefit directly from the presence of big companies in their areas.

Quantitative data also shows that almost everyone in the country (96 per cent of adults) say they are concerned about the high cost of living; 27 per cent of families say they are struggling to pay their gas bills and a quarter of 16-24 year olds struggle to buy branded products they like. Almost 80 per cent of Britons are actively bargain-hunting and 65 per cent say they now buy own-label supermarket products.

It also reveals that the fate of the high street is one of the issues that most concern the British public. The study, by OMD UK and MMR Research Worldwide, finds that 76 per cent of adults are concerned about the future of our high streets and a significant proportion would back a limit on the number of pawnbrokers and betting shops allowed to open in local areas.

Retail categories under threat such as pubs, book shops, independent retailers such as butchers and bakeries as well as libraries are among those most valued by consumers.

The data in the study is invaluable to brands and marketers in their approach to increasing the bottom line.

Understanding the concerns of consumers should play a part in shaping new campaigns, launching new loyalty offers and even launching new stores within communities, particularly as this research shows it might not be a welcome move.

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