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This afternoon, Information Resources Inc. (IRI) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) will offer a complimentary webinar on the subject, “Discovering The Real Truth About Shopper Behavior,” which will look at what IRI’s Thom Blischok refers to as the “new conservative shopper.” Blischok, who is IRI’s president of consulting and innovation, is scheduled to offer an in-depth – and actionable – look at what retailers and manufacturers must do to cater to the changing shopper.

It is Blischok’s contention that the severity of the recession – which he feels has not just caught people by surprise, but will continue to do so as the economic roller coaster continues – will have a persistent and lasting impact on shopper behavior …and that retailers and manufacturers need to do three things: pay “granular attention” to who shops, engage in “assortment redesign” that simplifies what Americans find on their store shelves, and rework “pricing architecture” so that consumers’ value concerns are integrated into what things cost.

MNB had the opportunity yesterday to chat with the always-fascinating Blischok, who always succeeds in being provocative with his view of the where the worlds of retailing and manufacturing are going. Based on our conversation here are 10 things that he believes that retailers and manufacturers need to know about the changing shopper (items that will be elaborated upon in today’s webinar):

1) Shoppers are buying between six and 10 percent less than they used to, and virtually every purchase decision is being seen through the “lens of affordability.”

2) Consumers are redefining what they view as “necessities,” with items like iPods and iPhones – that might have been seen as luxuries in the past – making the cut because they are critical to how shoppers (especially Millennials) connect to the Internet. These same Millennials are saying that they will be “cautious shoppers” for the rest of their lives because of the lessons taught by the current recession.

3) These connected shoppers are using the Internet to bring buying decisions home – more and more, they are using the information that they are gathering to make shopping lists that determine what they will buy. Impulse purchases are so 20th century.

4) “Innovative” and “preventative” health care and wellness offerings are likely to offer retailers a long-term growth opportunity because consumers will continue to look for ways to save money; while in-store clinics may be operationally problematic, Blischok says they will evolve into “the new emergency room.”

5) More than two thirds of shoppers are shifting their purchase decisions by buying things like skincare items, hair coloring and cosmetics in the store rather than going to beauty parlors and spas for such treatments.

6) Retailers and manufacturers need to address both the need for low prices and “expand the conversation” by reflecting specific value propositions, whether it is “wellness,” “fresh food,” or some other differential advantage.

7) “There must be an expansion of the dialogue among the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer,” Blischok says. All three have to be included for maximum impact.

8) Among Millennials, Hispanics and Baby Boomers, there is broad support for tactics that are helping them survive – shopping multiple stores for the lowest prices, using online resources to find coupons, buying larger quantities earlier in the month and buying more multi-functional items.

9) Retailers have to go beyond the use of loyalty marketing programs as ways of distributing coupons and offering discounts, instead using them to detect “minute microchanges” in consumer behavior that can help the retailer make better merchandising and marketing decisions.

10) The bad news, Blischok says, is that the United States could find itself as the world’s third or fourth largest economy in the not-too-distant future. But the good news is that the US may also reclaim its position as “feeder of the world,” using both technology, a diverse climate and the availability of water to compete in an area where most nations cannot.

To attend the IRI/NACDS webinar, which takes place today from 2 pm-3 pm EDT,

Click here.
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