CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, conducted a global comparison of consumer trends by undertaking three regional studies in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia-Pacific and North America, in which it sought to understand
what consumers want from their shopping experience, how the shopping experience is influenced by different format shopping destinations, the changing way in which consumers manage their in-store and online shopping and the differences that exist between markets and demographic groups. The consolidated findings of the survey were released at MAPIC 2014.
CBRE surveyed more than 40,000 consumers across 32 markets to study how far consumers are willing to travel to reach their shopping destination, the importance of different factors when choosing where to shop, what kinds of investments have been made in different types of centres, the types of consumers who shop in different centres and inter-regional and global trends in consumer shopping online and in-store.
Countries included in the survey were Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The study revealed that 75 per cent of consumers globally look for specific items online and are increasingly ‘connected’ – often interacting with retailers and other consumers to research and purchase products, with 42 per cent using social networking
sites for product feedback.
Nearly a third of global consumers (30 per cent) use their mobile phones to compare prices and product details, a trend particularly noticeable in Asia-Pacific, with 49 per cent using a smartphone to purchase products in China. Consumers also buy online and collect products in-store on average every three weeks – presenting retailers with great cross-selling opportunities since consumers usually make other purchases while picking up their online orders from stores.
“The relationship between the physical store and the online world
is becoming increasingly complex, with landlords and retailers facing two key challenges. The first is the need to offer great service, an outstanding product range and value-added services to customers. Secondly, they should also be looking at relevant ways to capitalise on trends in digital technology and social media,” observes Dr Nick Axford, global head of research at CBRE.
“The key is to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and as seamless as possible. Technology needs to be an enabler not a barrier. The way in which landlords and retailers work together to capitalise on the growing demand for click-and-collect appears to be the key issue in making true omni-channel retailing a reality,” he adds.
“The role of the physical store is in many ways more important than ever. It is the essence of the retail brand and should be viewed as the most important element of the overall proposition. Technology and online should be used to get the retail offer to as broad a customer profile as possible but should not be allowed or viewed as a way to change the overall proposition,” says Andrew Phipps, head of EMEA retail research and consulting, CBRE.
He rates Germany as one of the most promising markets in the current EMEA scenario. “There is big demand for Germany among retailers wanting to enter new markets, the reason being it’s a safe and steady market. Among other markets, I see London very strong, with the rest of the UK very positive. Russia, too, emerges as a strong market but with challenges due to the Ukraine issue. Otherwise, Russia’s potential is immeasurable. It’s a big market and there’s a lot of money there,” Phipps notes.
He describes China as a unique market and so is India.
“These markets can be anybody’s dream come true if people can overcome the challenges. The US is another big market, also with a lot of challenges, offering a great opportunity but a hard way. European retailers Primark and Topshop have managed to enter and establish their operations there successfully. Maybe, other retailers can learn a few things from them,” Phipps elaborates.
“I see confidence returning to Greece and Spain, which are again great markets in the EMEA. Africa as a whole has a lot of potential and I can single out Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa at the moment. And so is the Middle East where a lot of local, private investments are being made and the region’s growing tourism industry offers a big opportunity. Of course, when you talk about the region you cannot ignore Dubai, which is very inspiring. The shopping centres there are family-friendly and their offerings of food, fun and shopping are wellbalanced,” he adds.
Touch & Feel Important To Younger Shoppers
The EMEA portion of the survey shows the European shopper of the future likes to touch and feel products before buying, is a more advanced user of technology, and expects an entertainment experience from retail centres.
It’s the younger generation that thinks it’s most important to visit a shop to touch and feel products, with 86 per cent of people aged 16-24 believing the physical store is important to the online shopping process. This preference is as
important to people who live in rural locations with limited access to physical stores as it is to city dwellers who typically have good access to a wide range of stores.
“It’s clear that the physical store complements the online world, often acting as a showroom. A strong tenant mix that provides both quality and value remains essential, but managers should also be investing in their in-store strategies and digital technology. Features such as cinemas, digital walls and the use of tablets on the shop floor will increasingly contribute to the experience of a complete day out,” says Peter Gold, head of EMEA cross-border retail, CBRE.
The survey, which canvassed opinions of more than 10,000 people across 10 European countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain and Sweden, reveals that in Europe young adults are the most frequent shoppers across virtually all locations and channels, including online, shopping malls and local shops.
Still, there are huge differences by country. In the under-35 age group, Germans shop online 29 times a year on average. Hungarians, on the other hand, shop once a year, and Poles shop twice a year. The frequency of shopping online in Russia is slightly higher (six times a year) and those European Average Asian Average Austria/Germany Italy Browsing online Browsing in-store Russians who do shop online do so 17 times a year, a similar frequency to Spain and Belgium, says the report.
It turns out that income has little impact on the frequency of online shopping. However, those who live in cities and towns shop online using a computer more often (11 times a year) than those in rural areas (seven times a year). This is true for all countries in Western Europe, apart from Germany where people who live in rural areas shop online slightly more often than those living in urban areas.
Delivery preferences vary little by demographic, although the preference for delivery to home or work is slightly
higher (69 per cent) among females and those aged 16-24. However, the differences become more pronounced among particular countries. In the under-35 age group, over 80 per cent of consumers in Poland and Hungary prefer delivery to home or work, due largely to a lack of other options. There is also a heavy preference for home delivery in Germany, as few retailers
offer click-and-collect, and most online retailers provide free delivery to customers’ homes. In contrast, less than 60 per cent of consumers prefer this option in France, Sweden and Belgium, where picking up goods from a local delivery point (favoured by over 20 per cent) is relatively more important, the study finds.