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Digital shopping behaviours: Impact and implications

Published 1 June 2015

Context

The UK has one of the highest penetrations of smartphones in the developed world, as well as widespread broadband internet access. The country has seen the emergence of technology savvy and demanding customers who are making the most of the opportunities offered by the digital revolution.

25% of internet users use social media to inform their purchase; on-line sales now represent approximately 11% of all retail sales in the UK, and are expected to rise to 18% by 2019. The report, undertaken for DAC Beachcroft by Experian, looks behind these figures to examine differences in digital approach across cities, age and income groups and their impact for retail destinations.

Findings

The research identifies 10 different digital tribes who exhibit clear differences in behaviour.

"The differences highlighted indicate that successful digital strategies are those that put in place digital strategies that respond not just to the different requirements and preferences of the tribes, but also the individuals within them. Success requires constant adaptation, staying as close to the technology curve as possible, to ensure the choice and convenience demanded is met," says Nick Knapman, Head of Shopping Centres at DAC Beachcroft.

Result headlines

Limited to London: 

  • Digital behaviour is markedly different in the capital. "Hi Speed London" are affluent urban professionals living in inner London, who are immersed in technology;
  • "Multicultural mobiles" live in diverse urban communities. While income differs from the challenged to the comfortable across the group, all are avid users of social media and mobile communication;
  • "Upmarket browsers" are found in the more affluent London suburb and make practical use of technology for convenience, but do not favour social media as a contact method.

North/South divide:

  • "Connected kids" are members of first digital generation, starting their own households and careers, the majority of whom are found no further North than Milton Keynes;
  • The majority of "On-Line escapists" are in the North and their activity is driven by their search for a bargain and by the needs of their children;
  • The most dominant tribes, found in towns and cities throughout the country, are "Bargain Hunters" and "Online escapists". The search for a keen price and for entertainment are shared features in their on-line behaviour; 
  • The "Online escapists", the younger tribe, prefer to be contacted through smartphones using text; the "Bargain Hunters" prefer e mail.

The good life:

These tribes, mostly comprised of the retired, are most frequently found in isolated market towns, with the traditional high street as their regular shopping destination.

  • "Wired Ruburbs" pursue urban lifestyles in rural settings. Affluent and married with children, they use the internet for information and shopping, but are light users of social media;
  • The least connected tribes are "Disconnected elders", and "Beyond broadband", who have little access and/or no interest in technology;
  • The most diverse towns: 5 of the 10 groups are found in Plymouth and Norwich. Generally most towns feature no more than two of the tribes.

Shopping types:

  • "Hi speed London" and "Up market browsers" most value independent retailers and unique businesses;
  • "Connected kids", "Online escapists" and "Bargain hunters" require family friendly shopping centres with  leisure facilities.

NB. Headline comments based on analysis of the top ten locations for each tribe.

Conclusions and considerations

The research confirms a valid role for the physical shopping environment. People want to touch, feel and visit centres to do things they could not do online. As many as 36% visit the high street or mall primarily for leisure and entertainment. Saturday remains a favoured day and these weekly peaks coincide with troughs in on-line activity.

With on-line as a convenient option, the online offer must have a unique aspect that drives offline trade: quality in-store only promotions, attractive facilities, product knowledge and more entertainment for example. Showrooming, visiting the physical centre just to look and confirm, can be converted into direct sales, by these tactics of exclusivity, competitive pricing and service.

The use of click and collect is testament to the fact that digital technology can help bridge the gap between online and offline sales. Mobile technology presents retailers with the opportunity to build on this, to provide consumers with information at speed and on the go and that is increasingly targeted and personalised.

Ultimately retailers who innovate aggressively and adapt to meet the needs of modern consumers are likely to be best placed to win the loyalty of increasingly demanding customers.

Research note

The research has been prepared by Experian Marketing Services. This updates material originally prepared for the Association of Town & City Management. Experian utilised its Mosaic™ cross-channel consumer classification system, a comprehensive segmentation of the UK’s consumers on the basis of a multitude of demographic and lifestyle variables, to create a set of bespoke technology focused clusters, called Digital Tribes.

 

Digital tribes download

Read the full report

Produced by Experian

The research has been prepared by Experian Marketing Services. This updates material originally prepared for the Association of Town & City Management. Experian utilised its Mosaic™ cross-channel consumer classification system, a comprehensive segmentation of the UK’s consumers on the basis of a multitude of demographic and lifestyle variables, to create a set of bespoke technology focused clusters, called Digital Tribes.

Nick Knapman, Head of Shopping Centres
T: +44 (0)117 918 2292
E: nknapman@dacbeachcroft.com 

Authors

Nick Knapman

Nick Knapman

Bristol

+44 (0)117 918 2292

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