Adaptation Mentality: What is it, and How it Will Affect the Retail Customer Experience Over the Festive Period and Beyond

by Axel Heyenga

Posted on 12-03-2020

Which hob­by have you adopt­ed dur­ing 2020? Have you dis­cov­ered a love for bak­ing bread, a hid­den tal­ent for home improve­ment, or have you found that you can actu­al­ly run for longer than 20 min­utes with­out col­laps­ing with fatigue?

What­ev­er new skill or tal­ent you decid­ed to explore dur­ing the past 10 months, odds are that you’ve pur­chased some­thing to help you improve your hob­by. And, for many peo­ple, buy­ing these new wares has brought about new shop­ping behav­iors and expec­ta­tions regard­ing the qual­i­ty of a prod­uct, ser­vice, or expe­ri­ence — espe­cial­ly among younger audiences.

Mil­len­ni­als want to exper­i­ment and adapt to lifestyle restrictions

The mil­len­ni­al age brack­et has been the most open to adapt­ing their behav­iours and men­tal­i­ties to the lifestyle restric­tions of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, with Adobe research reveal­ing over half (53%) have shopped for DIY/home improve­ment items or have tak­en up baking/cooking as a hobby.

This uptake plum­mets dra­mat­i­cal­ly when com­pared with Silent Gen shop­pers – typ­i­cal­ly 71 years and over – of whom 20% have picked up a new hob­by or pas­time, and only 14% have embarked on home improve­ment projects.

The adap­ta­tion men­tal­i­ty shift among young audi­ences rep­re­sents a real oppor­tu­ni­ty for retail­ers to not only attract new cus­tomers, but to also secure long-last­ing brand loy­al­ty. Encour­ag­ing­ly for indi­vid­ual retail brands, mil­len­ni­als are increas­ing­ly keen to side­step online mar­ket­places such as Ama­zon, and buy direct. In fact, 70% of them pre­fer ‘brand-direct’ approach.

The rea­son for this shift is that they want a vari­ety of spe­cialised prod­ucts that can sat­is­fy their new hob­bies and out-of-work projects – and it’s up to retail­ers to use the tech­nol­o­gy and data at their dis­pos­al to map these new behav­iours and deliv­er cre­ative experiences.

Retail’s respon­si­bil­i­ty dur­ing the fes­tive season

With such tight restric­tions in place, almost all out­door and indoor events have been post­poned and can­celled. The world has, in many ways, lost its sense of cel­e­bra­tion, and the 2020 hol­i­day sea­son has suf­fered because of it. Hal­loween, Thanks­giv­ing and, look­ing for­ward, Christ­mas, have all tak­en hits.

For many peo­ple, shop­ping dur­ing the upcom­ing hol­i­day sea­son will feel like more of a chore than ever, with the tra­di­tion­al bricks and mor­tar expe­ri­ence restrict­ed and all the mag­ic that comes with it cur­tailed – think sparkling Christ­mas lights on the high-street, vis­its to Santa’s Grot­to, and fes­tive street markets.

But, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for retail­ers to revive the mag­ic, espe­cial­ly online. True, high-street shop­ping will still play a role this year, as it always has – but dig­i­tal com­merce will, undoubt­ed­ly, see one of its biggest ever booms in 2020.

For exam­ple, many big retail­ers have launched expe­ri­en­tial vir­tu­al stores, enabling cus­tomers to browse the aisles of their favourite shop from the com­fort of their sofa. Of course, not all brands have the bud­get, resources, or capa­bil­i­ties to launch vir­tu­al 3D tours or pro­duce mul­ti-mil­lion pound TV ads, but retail­ers who focus on shift­ing bud­gets to dig­i­tal in order to refine the over­all cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and opti­mise the cus­tomer jour­ney, will be those who suc­ceed over the com­ing months.

Authen­tic­i­ty and brand pur­pose key to hol­i­day suc­cess, and beyond

It’s vital, there­fore, that retail brands tap into their cus­tomers’ emo­tions when engag­ing online. Peo­ple are increas­ing­ly view­ing their online shop­ping as an under­whelm­ing hunt for basic com­modi­ties, not a spe­cial or mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ence. Authen­tic­i­ty and brand pur­pose have been crit­i­cal to build­ing cus­tomer con­nec­tions this year, and retail­ers must con­tin­ue to demon­strate this in spades over the next few months.

Our research reveals that 80% of peo­ple who are going ‘brand-direct’ do so because they want to buy from more authen­tic retail­ers. They want retail­ers to recog­nise their spe­cif­ic needs and wants, and deliv­er expe­ri­ences that speak to these new inter­ests and hob­bies, whether that’s a new-found love for bak­ing sour­dough, an inter­est in run­ning, or dis­cov­er­ing a hid­den tal­ent for brew­ing beer.

And, per­haps the most impor­tant point for retail­ers to remem­ber is that good cus­tomer expe­ri­ence isn’t just for Christ­mas. The lessons we’ve learned dur­ing 2020 must be applied and built upon well into next year and beyond, not just in retail, but across all facets of business.

To learn more about how Adobe accel­er­ates busi­ness growth for retail­ers, please vis­it Com­merce Cloud.

Topics: Commerce, Customer Experience, Millenials, retail, Shopping, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA