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Consumers Behaviour Changing

A recent survey by Ernest & Young's retail and consumer products sector on what influences purchasing behaviour has revealed that consumers today are harder to define, understand and please than ever before. The consumer research tapped into the opinions of almost 25 000 consumers in 34 countries, across mature and emerging markets. The recession of the past few years has impacted dramatically on customer behaviour, which, according to Derek Engelbrecht of Ernst & Young, has resulted in a ‘chameleon-like metamorphosis' in consumers' spending habits with the following trends emerging:

  • Traditional market segmentation no longer holds true. The ‘chameleon' consumer has conflicting preferences and facets which need to be accommodated.
  • Brands are increasingly likely to influence purchasing decisions within emerging markets, unlike the mature markets where lower loyalty is challenging companies.
  • Personalised communication and service is a priority. There are huge opportunities for organisations that can harness digital consumers through closer ‘community' vehicles, such as social media and other digital channels.
  • Consumers are now equipped with all possible product, price and stock information and can simply bypass retailers that don't compete.
  • These new empowered customers want a greater say in how they experience service and to be active ‘co-creators', not passive consumers.

What is blatantly obvious in surveys such as this is that we live, now more than ever, in an ever changing world. Not only is the world changing to adapt to new technology and new trends but more importantly, the consumer has taken charge and is, to a large extent, driving its own purchasing behaviour.

Despite, and in spite of recessionary influences, franchising remains at the forefront of innovation. Some experts believe that the greatest strides in franchise innovation happen during recessionary times when entrepreneurs are often forced to think out the box and come up with innovative ideas. Advances in economic and technological development and shifts in consumer behaviour also trigger new ideas that get snapped up by quick-thinking franchisors.