At a breakfast event in Sydney, Coles store development and operations director Stuart Machin; Brian Walker and Katharina Kuehn of Retail Doctor Group and IBM’s Peter Butler spoke about the changing paradigm in shopper behaviour.

All speakers were in agreement that retailers are now dealing with smarter consumers who are now more instrumented, intelligent and interconnected than ever before.

Peter Butler, IBM business solutions architect revealed that in the IBM Smarter Consumer study, a majority of consumers rely on two or more technology devices to shop with and that 76 per cent of those users are willing to collaborate with retailers to helping produce a product.

He also provided insight into his recent visit to the National Retail Federation Convention and Expo in the US. “It was really buzzing. About two years ago it was fairly slow but now retail is up 3.4 per cent in the US and it’s all about omni-channelling, mobile, social media, cloud-based POS and inventory management for online and offline.”

As a result of the trend, retailers and brands have been forced to shift in the way they obtain and strategically use consumer insights to built business operations.

“If we want to stay one step ahead of consumers, it’s critical that we predict their behaviour and exceed their expectations. Using the right consumer insights we can implement truly relevant brand and operational strategies for this omin-channel retail world,” Brian Walker, Retail Doctor Group’s managing director, said.

One example of this was Wesfarmers that applied a turnaround strategy to Coles. Machin spoke of the importance of giving back to communities and ensuring as a business “you do one good thing after

Walker and Katharina Kuehn, Retail Doctor Group director consumer insights and strategic brand, also launched findings of the Retail Doctor Group and i-Link research 2012 Australian Retail Consumer study.

The study set out to prove the importance of new consumer insights’ tools, specifically a neuro-psychological consumer profiling method, which enables retail brands to define their target consumer type by their subconscious drivers. The research proved the clear correlation between different consumer personality types and their purchasing behaviour, providing evince that retailers can now take a more predictive approach to understand their customers.

“If consumers are in charge, and 85 per cent of their decision-making is subconscious, you need to understand how to tap into the subconscious drivers behind your consumer personality types so that you can resonate with them,” Walker said.

“Not all personality types use social media or shop using the internet or mobile. You can implement a more operationally sound brand strategy if you understand the best channel mix to communicate with your personality types as well as how they react and interact with such details as store design, packaging, colours, shapes, textures and price. It’s the thousand details which enable you to give them what they need before they even knew they need it.”