A blog series on Shopper Marketing.

By Cyndi Pyburn

I was at a dinner party recently with a group of friends that had vacationed in the USA.  The conversation quickly turned from ‘what they did highlights’ to ‘what they bought highlights’.  The enthusiasm and passion for the ‘deals’ they got sparked quite the shopping debate.

For some, hands down, the prices are too good to be true.  They firmly believe that you can get better deals on the designer stuff that they had bought — Hugo Boss suit, Louis Vuitton bag, Cole Hahn shoes, Movado watch, New Balance runners, Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.  For others, they spent more than what they wanted to.  A few admitted that in the frenzy of the spending spree, they purchased some things that they would likely never wear.  They had buyers’ remorse.

So this initiated the debate.  What was fueling the spending frenzy?  Products at amazing prices?  The ‘permission’ to buy while vacationing?  The thrill to buy quickly, make a rush decision because you won’t be back?   The freedom of impulse buying?   OR simply, a new place to check out?  When it was really thought out, actually none of what they bought, apart from the runners, was a real need.

Years ago, I recall being at the Eaton Centre and overhearing very excited Americans speaking generously about the uniqueness of our stores …. we don’t have these in the US!  I think the novelty of a new shopping destination is the ‘magic’ – the wonderment of ‘new’ – having a fresh shopping experience.  Yes, shopping is a wonderful pastime for many, indeed a novelty. Whether it is in the USA or Europe, the delights of shopping should feel the same ‘at home’.   The need being fulfilled is not always the need for product, but the need to experience a new shopping sensation. Check out the recent Retail Therapy blog.  As stores continue with global expansion, the ‘uniqueness’ factor will diminish.

So what’s the lesson?  It is critical to constantly inspire the shopper, especially in their own backyard.  Keeping the store fresh with an element of constant newness has become table-stakes for success today.  This is why retail is truly an art and a science.  Take for example the LCBO, they rework the store every month with a new, fresh ‘thematic’.  Customers are likely weekly shoppers and the store refresh helps build interest, inspires trying new product and perhaps buying more than one initially expected to.  Aritzia, Joe Fresh and Banana Republic, constantly inject a new clothing must have piece, in a multitude of colours, so that the current collection never gets boring.  International retailers like Zara and H&M know this only too well …. the fashion life cycle is no longer seasonal with four line changes a year ….. it is a constant revolving door of new collections peppered into the mix.  These are all examples that elevate the experience and inspire one to buy.

So I challenge our home grown retailers to make the shopping experience a novel one…. each and every time.