chris cooper quote web

What was once typical of the grocery sector is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The market’s changing and people are changing. For example, while gap years might be more commonly associated with teenagers, many older people are taking extended holidays.

Wisdom has it that demographics - neat ways of categorising disparate customer clusters - are no longer a useful way to group consumers. Technology is driving change in the way people shop, making traditional marketing techniques obsolete.

We conducted a study exploring the motivations, values and aspirations that people have when shopping in-store and online. We spoke to 1,000 shoppers, as well as industry experts.

This led to the discovery that how people shop can be defined by seven key mindsets instead of the old system of demographics.

These seven mindsets aren’t based on age, gender or income. A 66-year-old retiree is just as likely to have a ‘sociable’ mindset as a 22-year-old student, for example. They also aren’t static across people’s lifetimes, instead changing in response to personal experiences like university, marriage and home ownership.

Mindsets also change depending on what sector people are shopping in. The ‘secure’ mindset prevails when shoppers head to the supermarket. For alcohol shoppers, thanks to the popularisation of connoisseurship, the ‘knowledgeable’ mindset is strong. Personal care is the only sector where the ‘conscious’ mindset - most closely connected with ethical shopping and the desire to be ‘a good person’ - is one of the most dominant.

Brands need to treat mindsets as a lens through which to better understand shopper behaviour. By considering them alongside the DNA of their brand, marketers will more precisely understand their shopper base. Brands should consider the mindsets that typify their category; what happens when shoppers enter the retail environment, and how mindsets vary across markets.

Brands may bemoan the decline of demographics, but help is at hand. By being mindful of mindsets, brands can create new ways to understand shoppers and secure their custom.

Chris Cooper is head of planning at SMP