Almost half of Australians say that sales have lost their appeal and no longer act as a trigger to spend, according to research into Australian consumers by AMP Capital Shopping Centres (AMPCSC).

The bi-annual study ‘AMPCSC’s 2010 Recommended Retail Practice Report’, found that while Australians are not adverse from treating themselves with small rewards such as inexpensive fashion, household goods and meals, there are still a few factors holding them back from shopping. Consumers state that they want more from the shopping experience.

Stuart Langeveldt, AMPCSC’s head of marketing and communications said, “One thing is for sure, today’s shoppers are incredibly well informed; hyper-connected, social, and they are demanding. They want to be inspired and engaged – they want the promise of a memorable experience before they are tempted to venture into a retail outlet and spend.”

Langeveldt mentioned that research also showed that consumers hold legitimate concerns about rising utility costs (48%), reducing their debt levels (41%), rising interest rates (22%), keeping their jobs/partners jobs (16%), and the instability of global economic recovery (21%), as well as living more sustainable lives (37%). 

Helen Bakewell, managing director of Directional Insights, who were commissioned to undertake the research on behalf of AMPCSC said that although half of the shopper were interested in great prices, the other half wanted something more – such as retailers providing them with a shopping experience specific to their needs and requirements, as well as highly trained and knowledgeable shop assistants.

Langeveldt provided examples of international retailers who are engaging well with their consumers:

  • Spanish retailer Zara is charting a new route in the mid-range fashion market. It is claimed that the brand requires two weeks to develop a new product line from the concept board to getting it into its stores, compared with a six-month industry average. Zara launches around 10,000 new designs each year, and is renowned for the quality and reasonable price of its clothes. Brand devotees note the day that new stock arrives and visit accordingly, significantly boosting the number of shopping trips to the store.
  • American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has a strong Facebook presence. The content-savvy page engages with young customers by showcasing the latest looks, running competitions for future models and encouraging a community of followers who can upload photos of themselves in their newest Abercrombie clothes. Its latest promotion encourages fans to audition to appear in a new film. At last count, the brand had more than 1.5m Facebook followers.
  • Upmarket UK supermarket chain Waitrose gives its customers the opportunity to vote each month for the most important cause in the local community. Waitrose then gives that cause funds for that month, helping to create shopper loyalty and community engagement.