In search of the agnostic shopper. Consumer trends (I)

We are loyal, or at least that is what we say. Loyal to our favourite TV program, loyal to our football team, loyal to our favourite brand of clothing, loyal to our smart phone and loyal to our family. But, are we really loyal to the supermarket? Yes and no. A new consumer profile has started to increase in significance and to change the trend that was becoming too comfortable for some companies dedicated to Mass Marketing.

Experts in consumer trends call this new consumer the “agnostic shopper”. This shopper is not worried about labels and is more concerned with seeking out value, price and the innovation that the product in question represents. This person never gets married to anyone and is capable of changing their consumerist principles for new ones in a question of minutes. The age of hyperconnectivity has created a type of restless consumer, highly informed and with infinite possibilities to research the market without moving from their armchair. Buying is now more of an act of scrutiny, a process by which he/she investigates, compares, evaluates and chooses. All of this, of course, in the shortest time possible. Time is an overpriced asset.

Shopping agnosticism should not be equated with younger customers. It is clear that younger people have more access to, and adeptness in, the use of new technologies and it is also clear that this group increasingly approaches the product in question after researching it online. Consequently, transparency and closeness is now an essential condition for Mass Marketing companies. Listening to, interacting with and basically getting to know the customer are the initial steps to be taken in order to offer a personalised service where the value of the experience is essential.

And in this context, proximity is becoming increasingly important. The Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2016 published by Euromonitor at the beginning of the year indicated that the number of agnostic customers who want local and seasonal food products is on the increase. This is defined as a trend referred to as “locavorism”, which consists in the purchase of foods that do not require long periods of dispatch or transport, which not only makes the price of these products cheaper, but also fits in with the idea of seeking value and commitment to the environment, due to the reduction in emissions produced by transport. Local supermarkets are, in this respect, the most committed to proximity, which in the case of DIA, also complements its franchise model, in which the franchisees can provide this unique knowledge of the customer.

It is therefore no surprise the increasing number of initiatives implemented by companies to offer more than a quality purchase – a quality shopping experience. Since last year, Grupo DIA implemented in Spain a new system by which to get to know the valuation of customers with respect to their shopping experience in both the physical shops and its online shop and, based on this, develop initiatives to improve the service. With the new system, members of Club DIA who make a loyalty scheme connected purchase in an establishment, receive a brief questionnaire by email, which is aimed at evaluating the service received by the staff in the sales area and at the checkout. The answers are sent automatically to the company’s system for analysis and evaluation. Currently, 1.5 million Club DIA members possess an email account and can make their evaluation by email.

The return of gastronomy demos to DIA in Spain or the Expert Savers initiative implemented in Argentina are other projects aimed at listening to the customer and adapt their tastes and needs to the company’s offer, which influences the value of the customer’s experience.

Does this agnostic customer now have fewer reasons to be disloyal? It is not a good idea to trust in this, love needs to be nurtured every day.