The average shopper's relationship with retailers has dramatically changed in recent years, with a third of once-loyal and dedicated brand fans having turned into promiscuous purchasers, according to research by Barclaycard Freedom Rewards, which identified four different 'tribes' of savvy shoppers. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The slow economic climate has turned a further third of British shoppers into careful consumers who plan well ahead and never deviate from their shopping list.

The research, conducted by Barclaycard with consumer experts from Brunel University, found that the recent economic climate has had a lasting impact on how consumers approach shopping and saving money. Bagging a bargain now goes far beyond saving money, as people now place far greater value on the emotional investment of smart spending, giving rise to four new modern shopping tribes:

  1. Bargain Hunter-Gatherers
    We are a disloyal bunch; in the last five years our paradigm has shifted, giving rise to the promiscuous purchaser. A third of British adults (32%) specifically pointed out that we now shop at far more brands and shops, with almost three in five (59%) choosing to shop around to check on prices before settling on a particular deal. Introducing the Bargain Hunter Gatherer: an expert at collecting the best tools, voucher codes and loyalty cards to make their budget go as far as possible, week in, week out. While the kids are doing their homework, she's doing hers - savvy savings sums - so that her weekly trolley dash is well timed and well budgeted. She'll buy her basics at her usual supermarket, but nips to a budget store to grab some good value prosecco and parma ham.
  2. Profit Prophets
    Years of careful penny-pinching has impacted our approach to saving. Now, the majority (71%) of Britain is trying to be more careful to save money compared with five years ago. What's more, nearly half (41%) now never leave the house to pick up groceries without a detailed shopping list. Step forward the Profit Prophet: the archetypal spreadsheet shopper, this person plans their purchases well ahead of time, with Christmas present buying in January. They are super organised and feel totally out of control if they have to make an important purchase at the last minute.
  3. Screen Savers
    Shopping online is not new. But with online spend now growing 12% year on year, it reflects 20% of total spend in the UK and almost one in ten (7%) claiming to never ever set foot in a shop for non-essential items, it's clear that its impact is gargantuan. The highest number of people who claim to shop almost exclusively online now, whereas they were more of a high street shopper five years ago, are based in the South East (24%), East Midlands (23%) and East of England (22%). These shoppers are being dubbed the Screen Savers: shoppers who barely ever leave the comfort of their living room or office to make purchases. Or else, they're busy tracking down the latest must-have items from their smartphones, 'screen grabbing' information and research in the palm of their hand on the go.
  4. High Street Pounders
    A growing group (24%) are choosing to shop at local independent shops instead of big high street chains either online or in store. The High Street Pounder will quite literally pound the streets to get the very best deals. A real champion of 'shopping local', this shopper prefers to hit the ground and haggle for what they want. They make the time to get it right and make negotiation the aim of the game. This active shopper is likely to cover miles each week to reach their shopping goals.

Consumers use and rely on loyalty and reward cards so much that it has arguably become a currency in its own right. Despite not showing loyalty to one brand over another, 88% of British consumers own at least one loyalty card, while many have a wallet or purse positively stuffed with them. However, the most common way of spending loyalty points is not, as you might expect, to get lavish personal treats, but to make the everyday household essentials budget go even further (40% use points in this way).

"We know that people like to shop around, as nearly half of the UK population (42%) shop at more than one supermarket chain to get the best deals," said Craig Evans, director of partnerships for Barclaycard.

"As a nation, we've evolved into incredibly sophisticated shopping experts. Some of us are clearly smarter than others but, with the wealth of deals and loyalty incentives out there, we've all developed a system that works for us," added Dr Dorothy A Yen, a retail expert at Brunel University.