All of the innovations that have been mentioned are ultimately aimed at adding value for the consumer. However, not all consumers are the same. A party game that is just as entertaining as predicting technological developments is characterising consumers. This is not the exclusive domain of the retail sector, for visitors of museums and archives visitor types have been introduced such as sniffers, grazers, excavators, snackers, educators, nomads, butterflies and grasshoppers (Van Vliet, 2009). The shopping public has to put up with less poetic designations such as ‘the keeper’, ‘ the banker’, ‘the hunter’ and ‘the courier’ (Sansolo, 2012). Characterising the consumer or the shopper – the person who makes the actual purchase – has a history going back around 60 years. In Stone’s first typology from 1954 the characterisations of the economic shopper (oriented towards for price and quality) and the apathetic shopper (shopping is a necessity and a chore) had already popped up (Westbrook & Black, 1985). The importance of a shopper typology is that it gives the retailer the possibility of making better decisions about offered products and the special offers (Westbrook & Black, 1985).
An often recurring contrast in the characterisation of shoppers is that of ‘doing the shopping’ versus ‘going shopping’, which is the difference between: “Shopping for and the recreational shopping around; the latter being an autonomous realm of experience and action in which the economic (instrumental) aspect has been marginalized.” (Falk & Campbell, 1997, p. 6). This concerns the distinction between instrumental (doing the shopping) and recreational (going shopping) (Westbrook & Black, 1985; Hewer & Campbell, 1997; Molenaar, 2011): “Going shopping is a vague activity, an extravagance – literally, ‘wandering out’. It is open-ended, with no precise plans or destinations: you can spend all day or not, you may just look and not buy. Going shopping is pleasurable, and possibly transgressive and excessive: you may spend too much time or too much money. Doing the shopping, on the other hand, suggests an obligation or a regular routine. ‘The’ shopping implies something both planned and limited: the definite article, with no extras or deviations. Going shopping points to fashion, clothes and leisure; doing the shopping is food shopping, for the most part regarded as a chore. Food is necessary, fashion is fun and spontaneous.” (Bowlby, 1997, p. 102).
Lehtonen & Mäenpää (1997) described these two types of shoppers in more detail by contrasting them with each other (see Table 1). This distinction does not say that both forms cannot occur simultaneously: instrumental aims can play a role when going shopping, and when doing the shopping we can also amuse ourselves (Falk & Campbell, 1997). Incidentally, shopping for pleasure is not something that has only occurred recently due to the increase in affluence, it is already referred to in the classic figure of the flâneur/flânueuse and has a longer history than one often assumes (Stobart, 2008).
Table 1: Two types of shoppers
More than two decades later we continue to see the same characterisations in a Shopping2020/GfK publication (GfK, 2013). For example, the report makes a distinction between the shopper who regards shopping as a necessity and the shopper who regards shopping as a pleasurable activity. The study also raises an aspect that Lehtonen & Mäenpää (1997) used in their characterisation of these two types of shoppers and introduced them as a separate dimension: planned/prepared versus unplanned/spontaneous. The intersection of these two opposites or axes produces a profile of four types of shoppers (Figure 1):
Previous blog in series: Financial innovations
Next blog in series: Alternative views on the shopper
Bowlby, R. 1997. Supermarket futures. In: P. Falk & C. Campbell (Eds). The Shopping Experience. London, etc.: Sage Publications. (pp. 92- 110)
Falk, P., & Campbell, C. 1997. The Shopping Experience. London, etc.: Sage Publications.
GfK. 2013. Dé shopper bestaat niet. Download www.shopping2020.nl
Hewer, P. & C. Campbell. 1997. Research on shopping – a brief history and selected literature. In: P. Falk & C. Campbell (Eds). The Shopping Experience. London, etc.: Sage Publications. (pp. 186-206)
Lehtonen, T-K. & Mäenpää, P. 1997. Shopping in the east centre mall. In: In: P. Falk & C. Campbell (Eds). The Shopping Experience. London, etc.: Sage Publications. (pp. 136-165)
Molenaar, C. 2011. Het einde van winkels? De strijd om de klant. Den Haag: SDU Uitgevers.
Sansolo, M. 2012. Illogic inside the mind of the shopper. In: M. Stahlberg & V. Maila (Eds.). Shopper marketing. How to increase decisions at the point of sale. London: Kogan Page. (pp. 39-43)
Stobart, J. 2008. Spend, spend, spend! A history of shopping. The History Press.
Van Vliet, H. 2009. De Digitale Kunstkammer. Cultureel Erfgoed en Crossmedia. Utrecht: Hogeschool Utrecht. (Cell Cahier #1)
Westbrook, R.A., & Black, W.C. 1985. A motivation-based shopper typology. Journal of Retailing, 61, 1, pp. 78-103.