Shopping Uncovered

This spring, McCann Truth Central, the thought leadership group of global communication agency McCann Worldgroup, conducted an 11-country study titled, “The Truth About Shopping”. The research aims to provide a rich human perspective on the role of shopping in the lives of people around the world.

With the impact of technological innovations, such as the Internet and big data, the act of purchasing has become increasingly sophisticated. The advancement of social media, too, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the social aspects of shopping.

Meanwhile, the study notes that since the 1960s there has been no change in the basic mechanism of shopping, in which the drivers to purchase are encounters with long-desired items or unexpected finds.

The study identifies five principles to help brands and retailers harness shopping opportunities.

  • Be seamless: intuitively blend technology with a physical experience
  • Be sensorial: create an immersive experience by stimulating all five senses
  • Be serendipitous: offer surprise and discovery in a predictable world
  • Be secure: put trust and privacy at the core of innovation
  • Be social: enhance the social experience that often accompanies shopping

Meanwhile, since 2004, an annual survey of Japanese mothers titled “The Truth About Japanese Mothers”, has been conducted in Tokyo. Specifically focusing on mothers, between the ages of 25 and 49, who are raising children of elementary school age or younger, the study aims to uncover some of today’s realities.

This year’s survey reveals the effectiveness of the above five principles on the shopping behaviour of mothers.

Some 45% of the 1,000 respondents said that, as much as possible, they try to gather information when they shop, and use the Web and shopping apps for this purpose. Japanese mothers who are skilled at using practical technology can naturally blend the virtual and physical shopping experience.

At the same time, 54% of respondents said they try to enjoy their everyday shopping. So, clearly, they believe sensorial experiences and serendipitous finds play an important part in making shopping fun. Furthermore, 55% indicated that they cannot resist buying something that catches their eye, even if they had not planned on buying it.

A range of shops have become popular among mothers for providing the joy of unexpected finds.

They include Kaldi Coffee Farm, operated by Camel Coffee Co., Ltd., and Costco Wholesale Corporation, both of which are known for their large selection of items and rich variety of imported goods; 100-yen shops; and the recent spate of low-priced, general home goods shops from overseas selling stylish goods.

One such firm is Flying Tiger Copenhagen, which is located in Omotesando and features colourful designs and packaging that appeal to the senses.

Respondents showed concern regarding how shops handle their personal information, something coveted by firms as part of the big data they use to drive their business.

While up to 76% of responding mothers said that they frequently shop online, a similarly high 74% expressed concern about their personal information being exchanged by firms on the Web. Providing a secure and well-protected environment will go a long way in assuaging mothers’ fears.

In terms of products and services, 45% of the mothers who replied said that they receive advice from friends, family and acquaintances. In addition, 19% said that they sometimes post reviews and comments on websites and social media after purchasing an item or using a service.

Brands and retailers will be keenly aware that word spreads quickly online, whether it is good or bad.

Furthermore, communities of mothers with children of a similar age tend to have especially strong bonds and friendships. It should be noted that the information exchanged among the members of such groups wields enormous influence on their shopping behaviour.

For these reasons, shops should think about the kind of valuable social experiences they can offer, such as providing a place for customers to engage and interact with each other.

As we have seen, shops that apply all five of the shopping principles outlined in the survey are able to capture the hearts of Japanese mothers.