Consumer foot traffic in key shopping centres and prime retail precincts isreportedly at around 86% of that immediately prior to the declaration of apandemic in March.
The faces are familiar. Addresses are the same. So too are the credit andpayment card details. Loyalty cards (really?) are still valid and accumulatingpoints, with little reciprocal commitment to the issuing businesses.
And yet, the customers are exhibiting differing buying patterns. Advertisingmessages are eliciting fewer, and slower responses. Promotional activities aregenerating less interest, fewer responses and attendances.
Big price discounting campaigns are, seemingly, not increasing revenues. Theprice savings are being accepted, if not expected. However, volumes do notreflect the enhanced value offers.
Consumer loyalty and repeat business with individual stores and brands aretenuous. Relationships are founded on each transaction, its competitivepricing, payment options, and incentive post-purchase services.
Relationships are fractious, hard earned and short-term.
Online sales have not proven to be the saviour for all bricks ’n’ mortaroutlets. Indeed, during June total national online sales declined by some 2% –the first in over seven years. It was an expression and qualification ofconsumer dissatisfaction with poor, slow and variable delivery standards.Delivering the promise on-time is difficult and expensive.
The allure of personal contact with in-store sales and service providersremained. Sadly the expectations and promises have often fallen short becauseof rationalised staffing levels.
Many bold statements and declarations by managements about customer-focus,customer-driven and centricity have been found to be shallow.
Recognition is often limited to demographic profiles and historic buyingpatterns. Such are the characteristics and typical deficiencies of algorithmsand AI (artificial intelligence).
Intuitive reasoning, understanding and responses are sparse. The nuancesinherent in the spoken word and body-language are seldom recognised,comprehended and appreciated.
The large capital investments in social, digital and online capacities havenot been matched by complementary and contributing capabilities ofexperienced, qualified and enthusiastic team-members.
CLOSE THE GAP
True, the physical presence of consumers has been, and continues to be,conspicuous.
However, their psychological perceptions, aspirations, expectations andpurchase criteria have changed, often substantially. Each is a consequence oflockdowns, social isolation and inhibited mobility.
Looks can be, and often are deceiving. They represent potential.
Converting and fulfilling require closer analysis, understanding of the “new”consumers, and refinements to business practices and promises.
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