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Consumerism’s potential retail impact

Lara Marrero Gensler Social Media Consumerism

Ahead of her session at Retailiate 2019 speaking about consumerism, Lara Marrero, Retail Leader and Principal at Gensler, takes time out to talk to us about how shifts in consumer behaviour are effecting purchasing decisions, how sustainability is here to stay and reveals her own passion for a certain type of footwear.

[Cushman & Wakefield]: Let’s start with the basics: how do you define consumers from a retail/leisure perspective?

[Lara Marrero]: Anyone who takes part in the retail or leisure customer journey.

OK, how has consumer behaviour shifted in recent years? And do you foresee changes in the near future?

Consumer behaviour has shifted drastically, and will continue to change in the future. The access to information and the power of choice enables consumers to take more control of their journeys and path to purchase. Further, disruption to the industry is shifting the expectation levels of consumers as to what the purpose of place is.

To what extent do generational differences (age groups) influence consumer attitudes?

There are differences in attitudes about access versus ownership, service, sustainability, and digital appetite, but for the most part we’re dealing with a new type of generationally-agnostic consumer—a person who is time poor and wants a friction-free experience that puts choice in their hands.

And how does this type of consumer balance broad environmental concerns with personal convenience when it comes to purchasing decisions?

They research their brands and insist that they ‘walk the talk’. As a result, we’re seeing movements such as the ‘second cycle’ and the ‘borrowing economy’ starting to make an impact. Leading the way are brands such as Vestiare Collective, that provides a platform for certified resell, and Rent the Runway, that allows people to borrow clothing and accessories as opposed to wearing them once and disposing of them.

Interesting. How should retailers, leisure operators and their property providers respond to these changes both right now and into the future?

Retailers, leisure operators and property providers need to be conscious about the impact they have on the world around them. For retail, each step in the supply chain—from sourcing to manufacturing, packaging to transportation—has an impact on the environment. In the future, upcycling and second cycles will be critically important to consumers.

Does that mean a reduction in disposable packaging and containment is inevitable and what kind of impact is that likely to have on shopping behaviours and, in turn, retail/leisure providers?

Absolutely! I feel this is already well underway. Next up, I can foresee that single-use plastic used in beauty products will be eliminated and replaced with reusable glass bottles.

We’re guessing that you have personal experience of using refillable water bottles/coffee cups and wondering how easy you find them to use and what kind of responses you have when using them?

Yep, you are spot on… I use refillable bottles and coffee cups all the time—I work at a firm where we believe resilience and sustainability is critical, so it isn’t really something out of the ordinary. In fact, I don’t ever remember getting a response other than a discount when doing so.

That’s good to hear! Finally, do you have any personal weaknesses when shopping for yourself?

Trainers – what can I say?!

For more insights from Lara Marerro and advice on how to bounce back from the changes in the retail market, join us at retailiate 2019.

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