Consumers are not getting what they need from retailers, with most customers favouring physical stores despite the wide range of multichannel options available, and the UK having the world's most unhappy shoppers, according to research by design consultancy Fitch. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

Despite these findings, however, British shoppers said they still spend as much time shopping online as they do in-store. The study identified three 'shopper mind states' which characterise the behaviours of shoppers across the world.

Following its year-long study of 7,250 consumers in seven major markets, the company found it could categorise most customers into either Dreaming, Exploring, or Locating mind-sets:

  • Dreaming
    In this mind state, shoppers actively look for new ideas and inspiration. They skip between categories and brands to find inspiration or learn something, and have fun while doing it.
  • Exploring
    Here, the shopper is open minded, but has a category specific purchase intent. They may have a few options in mind but are open to suggestions and influence. They are looking to browse easily, find more information and narrow down their choices.
  • Locating
    In this mind state, shoppers are looking for a brand, product or service. They know the specific item they are looking for. They want things to be easy to find and welcome timely and relevant reminders.

"Our study has substantiated what we've known for some time - that shoppers' needs are not being fully met, and that retailers need to act quickly to satisfy consumers in a multichannel world," explained Fitch's strategy director, Aaron Shields. "If retailers address the need for consumers to dream, explore and locate across all channels, then they are on their way to providing more enjoyable, seamless experience. With the UK High Street struggling, malls in China remaining empty, and big box formats being called into question, this can only be good news for the global retail economy."

But the identification of these mind states also revealed a number of challenges for retailers. If shoppers' Dreaming, Exploring and Locating needs are not met, then the customer experience is diminished, which is bad news for retailers. Shoppers who feel all three of their mind states are being met were found to be 21% more likely to describe themselves as "urrently happy with their retail experience", with much of that difference being attributed to dreaming activities.

The UK has the unhappiest customers around the globe, with only 19% indicating they are happy, in contrast with the Chinese (55%) who have the happiest retail experiences. However, shoppers in emerging markets of China, India and Brazil, are twice as enthusiastic overall than their counterparts in the US and UK. Moreover, in both the UK and the US, more people find shopping a chore (19% and 15% respectively).

And, while most people polled regard themselves as enthusiasts in the categories they shop in (94% in electronics, 85% for food, and 89% in fashion) satisfaction with their shopping experience is far lower. The study also found that, despite the technological boom, 54% of respondents worldwide still prefer an in-store shopping experience, with 30% preferring to shop online. Mobile shopping is the favoured option for 13% of shoppers, and only 7% make purchasing decisions through social media.