Monday, April 2, 2007

The Promiscuity of Shoppers

It is no secret that today’s retail shoppers are looking for personal benefits and control over their shopping experience. This agenda is also causing more shoppers to be less brand-loyal.

While attending the inaugural World Retail Congress conference held in Barcelona, Spain, last week, this point was drilled home by Marian Salzman, executive VP for New York City-based advertising firm JWT Worldwide. During her very frank albeit humorous discussion, I almost felt chastised for not being part of this new genre of shoppers.

“A smart consumer is not brand-loyal. Today, these shoppers are called brand sluts,” she said during the conference’s closing session, “Tomorrow’s World: What Will the Future Hold?” on Friday, March 30.

“The brand-loyal shopper is considered stupid, while the brand slut is smart,” she added. “They want to spend their money at retailers and brands that will titillate them and make them feel special in the end. And they will only take their new brands ‘back to bed’ if they continue to excite them.”

Based on this description, I imagine Salzman would call me a brand prude.

I am a brand-loyal girl through and through. I like classic brands, styles and high-end and affordable luxury whether I am buying clothes, accessories, food, electronics or housewares. I opt for specialty retailers over department store chains. And I am not a fan of discount retailers.

For example, Ann Taylor/LOFT, Banana Republic and the Gap satisfy my career and leisure wardrobe needs; Nine West and Enzo Angiolini, Nike and Adidas are my favorite footwear brands. Coach is my handbag and leather accessory retailer of choice, and I buy most of my groceries at Stop & Shop. (While stocking up, I even stick with the consumer-product-goods brands I grew up with.)

Don’t get me wrong. I am not afraid to take risks and have no problem trying new retailers. More often than not however, these risks don’t seem to pay off for me.

I am not sure whether this is a generational issue, “an old school” mentality or the result of just being lazy. Regardless, I place my favorite chains on a pedestal and as a result, I do place high expectations on each of them.

Sure, I am disappointed at times. To me however, quality merchandise and positive customer service outweigh searching for the “flavor of the month” just so I can add a new notch on my retailing bedpost.

— Deena Amato-McCoy

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