6th February 2013
INDIA IS HOME TO THE HAPPIEST SHOPPER IN THE WORLD. DOMINIC TWYFORD OF FITCH INDIA TELLS INDIA SHOP DESIGN WHAT ELSE INDIAN RETAILERS CAN LEARN FROM FITCH'S GLOBAL CONSUMER STUDY, "THE JOY OF SHOPPING'.
India’s retailers have been given a clear message from the Indian consumer; Indians want to be inspired when they shop. The demand for a stimulating shopping experience is higher in India than the majority of other countries around the world.
The Indian shopping experience needs to capture the imagination of the customer and create an emotional connection with the shopper. Gone are the days when retailers could focus solely on providing a simple and efficient platform for transaction.
This is one of the key findings of a new study by global branding and retail design consultancy FITCH. Sixty eight percent of Indians want to be inspired when they shop, compared to just 49% of UK shoppers and 51% of Americans.
This striking figure should act as a clear call to action for Indian retail brands. While India’s nascent retail sector is evolving at rapid pace, more can be done to meet shopper demand. The store environment needs to work harder than ever to excite the shopper and meet their expectations.
For inspiration, Indian retailers can look to the likes of Lego and IKEA. Whether instore, or online, FITCH client Lego have successfully ensured that their brand remains relevant at a time when electronic games and gaming are have captured the imagination of children. Across all retail touch points, IKEA dominate the home furnishings category, an incredible 175 million copies of the IKEA catalogue are printed annually.
The Joy of Shopping
The FITCH Joy of Shopping survey polled over 7000 shoppers in seven markets – China, India, Brazil, Russia, UK, USA and UAE – across age, income segments and regions.
By benchmarking within three retail categories- Grocery, Fashion and Electronics, the study identified three universal shopper mindstates; Dreaming, Exploring and Locating
Dreaming is when a shopper actively looks for new ideas and inspiration. They may not have fully defined needs and wants so they explore across categories and brands to find inspiration, learn something new and have fun. The gap in the Indian shopping experience is concentrated on this mindstate.
Exploring is when the shopper already has category specific purchase intent, but is still open to suggestions and is willing to be influenced. The shopper wants to browse easily, find information and narrow down choices.
In the Locating mindstate, the shopper is looking for specific and pre-selected brands, products or services. They want to find things easily and welcome timely and relevant reminders; being reassured that they are making the right choice is also appreciated.
Indulging in idle fantasy
Putting theory in to practice, FITCH recently set a new standard for inspirational retailing and story telling. Following the success of the Colour store in Mumbai, Asian Paints commissioned FITCH to create their Connaught Place flagship store in Delhi.
Home decorating in India isn’t fully understood, instead it is perceived to be a chore as the consumer lacks the confidence to make imaginative choices. To counter this FITCH created a playground of colour that allows the shopper to play and discover in store.
Using the latest RFID technology, shoppers collect ideas and experiences throughout their visit to the store. This information is downloaded at the end of the visit and turned in to a personalized magazine that captures their choices. This tangible take-away provides a practical reference from which they can order paint and commission a painter decorator.
Delhi’s Colour store is a prime example of a retail brand that facilitates Dreaming and Exploring. The retail experience provides an opportunity for the consumer’s imagination to run wild and the shopper is immersed in a store that makes learning and knowledge sharing fun.
The interactivity of the store and expert customer service fulfills the shoppers desire for suggestions and information that inform their decision making. Whilst technology is a major feature of the store, it is not used for the sake of it. Instead, technology is embedded in to the shopper experience fulfilling the desire to Dream and Explore and enhancing the overall shopper experience.
Once the shopper has found out what they need to know and been able to make final decisions they enter the Locating mindstate. Orders can be made within this store or from smaller Colours Ideas outlets across the Asian Paints network.
Levels of Indian happiness
The survey revealed that the 31-year-old Indian woman fashion shopper is the happiest shopper in the world.
Levels of happiness in fashion are high across the board in India – a huge 85% of shoppers in the lower income bracket (less than Rs 2.5L to 7.5L) say that they are happy with their typical fashion experience, which rises to 93% in the upper income bracket (Rs 60L to 1.9Cr).
This enthusiasm for shopping has also filtered into the less glamorous category of Grocery. India differs from its Western counterparts in its upbeat attitude towards grocery shopping – 21% of Americans and 27% of the British think grocery shopping is a chore compared to a mere 6% of Indians
Indeed, as part of an ideal grocery shopping experience, 62% of Indians would like to learn something new and 63% want to be inspired.
But it’s not just about engagement: the Grocery category requires a strong Exploring platform. In India there is immense scope to leverage this state of mind as it hosts the second lowest percentage of shoppers who find it easy to browse for groceries out of the surveyed countries.
Splintered customer journey
E-commerce will continue to influence shopping habits. Cisco Systems predict that global e-commerce sales will be equivalent to US$ 1.5 trillion in 2015. Running parallel to this, retail space is expected to grow – not shrink! – to 130 million square meters. In other words, e-commerce will not lead to the death of traditional retailing. Instead, the new wave of new technologies like QR codes, bar scanners and apps will create a splintered consumer journey; a combination of in-store, out of store and on line touch points.
According to 68% of Indians, the brick and mortar store is still the most important aspect of retail. However, the survey also reveals that like their global counterpart, the Indian shopper is increasingly likely to utilize new shopping channels such as the web and mobile apps.
Upper income groups are taking more quickly to alternative channels: 29% of Indian consumers earning between Rs 60L and 1.9Cr spend as much as 6 to 9 hours online each month browsing for electronic products.
Opportunity for Indian retail to lead the way
FITCH’s findings show that while India’s retail sector is still in its infancy, due to shopper demand there is opportunity to create groundbreaking retail experiences. Rather than just trying to keep up with more mature markets and replicate concepts, designs and best practice, Indian retail brands should be creating new standards for experience, helping to meet the latent desire for inspiration.
To start the process, FITCH suggest that India’s retailers ask themselves three fundamental questions that get to the heart of the matter. What am I doing to inspire those who are dreaming? What am I doing to engage those who are exploring? And finally, what else can I do to make locating a pleasure?
Using these mindstates as a starting point, retailers can identify how they meet shopper needs in-store, out of store and on line. This process adds real clarity, those that understand and embrace this approach will be best placed to smooth out the splintered customer journey. The aim should be to become a seamless retailer, comfortable across all touchpoints and relevant to all mindstates.
Dominic Twyford is a Client Director for FITCH, a global branding and retail design consultancy headquartered in London that specialises in creating and developing retail brands. Dominic is leading the development of FITCH’s studio in Delhi.
This article originally appeared in the January-February 2013 issue of “India Shop Design” – www.indiashop.co/publication.html.