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The race to catch the fast consumer

There are too many products all competing to catch the attention of consumers with limited time.

Son Güncelleme: 01.10.2010

THE time when a lot of time was spent shopping is now over. In fact, in France the average decision-taking time when shopping has fallen to 16 seconds. The French complete all of their shopping in an average of 40 minutes. It is striking that in the 1980s, the average was 1.5 hours. A survey conducted in the USA from 2002 to 2007 shows that consumers spend an average of 40 minutes on general shopping. The reason for this radical change in consumers is extremely simple: Today, “fast consumers” have each become a shopping expert. They know the shopping malls, brands and products which are most suitable for them and they go after them. This study shows that only 31 percent of consumers notice new products on the shelf. When consumers display a tendency to spend less money, such as in periods of crisis like at present, they are even more careful. They are particularly careful about only buying the products on their shopping lists.

How is the "fast customer" changing sector?

The customer who makes a decision quickly is having a deep impact every company’s marketing strategy, regardless of the sector. As a result, marketing experts think that everything depends on the first impression.
Luc Speisser, who is the director of the Paris office of Landor, which is one of the leading strategic brand consulting companies in the world, says that for a product to move off the shelf and into the shopping basket it must first be visible. He says that then the product must be able to explain its direct usefulness to the consumer and he adds: “And finally it needs to be chosen. This means that it has to give a different message to the other brands.”

Many companies in Turkey are positioning themselves for the “fast decision-making” consumer”. They include Vestel. Levent Hatay, Vestel Board Member Responsible for Marketing, says that in Vestel stores customers spend a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 25 minutes in front of the shelf. Hatay says that they display special offer products in the window with a different design, and draws attention to how they try in this way to show the price’s attractiveness in a striking manner.

The sectors most affected by consumers who make fast decisions are led by fast-moving consumer goods. Unilever, which is one of the leaders in various categories in the sector, has caught the eye through the strategies it has applied in this market. Unilever Turkey Board Member Responsible for Sales and Customer Development Cem Tarık Yüksel says that research shows that 70 percent of consumers change their decision-making processes according to applications in the store. He says that, despite the lower purchasing frequency, the decision-making process is longer in personal care products. “The situation is exactly the opposite for household car products,” says Yüksel, noting that studies have shown that the time spent in front of the shelf varies from 7 seconds to 15 seconds.

In 2004 the average shopping period in organized retailing was 36 minutes, which declined to 30 minutes in 2010. The sector leader Migros is an example of a company which has done a lot of research on the expectations of fast consumers. Migros officials said that the time spent in their own stores ranged from 4 percent who spent more than 60 minutes to 17 percent who spent less than 15 minutes. They listed the measures they took as follows: “We try to ensure that the maximum height of accessible shelves is 165 centimetres. We make it easy for customers to choose heavy and glass-packaged goods by putting them on the lower shelves.” Mey İçki Marketing Director Çiçekten Becel says that it is easier for striking packaging to catch the attention of consumers with little time.  
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