Retail Consumer Needs and Desires

When deriving a target market profile, a retailer should identify key consumer needs and desires. To a retailer, needs are a person’s basic shopping requirements consistent with his or her present demographics and lifestyle. Desires are discretionary shopping goals that affect attitudes and behav­ior. A person may need a new car to get to and from work, and he or she might seek a dealer with Saturday service hours. A person may desire a Porsche and a free loaner car when the vehicle is serviced but be satisfied with a Toyota that can be serviced on weekends and fits within a budget.

When a retail strategy aims to satisfy consumer needs and desires, it appeals to consumer motives, or the reasons for their behavior. These are just a few of the questions to resolve:

  • How far will customers travel to get to the retailer? How important is convenience?
  • What hours are desired? Are evening and weekend hours required?
  • What level of customer services is preferred?
  • How extensive a goods/service assortment is desired?
  • What level of goods/service quality is preferred?
  • How important is price?
  • What retailer actions are necessary to reduce perceived risk?
  • Do different market segments have special needs? If so, what are they?

Let’s address the last question by looking at three particular market segments that attract retailer attention: in-home shoppers, online/mobile shoppers, and outshoppers.

  1. In-Home Shopping: The in-home shopper is not always a captive audience. Shopping is often discretionary, not necessary. Convenience in ordering an item, without traveling for it, is important. These shoppers are often active store shoppers as well as affluent, well educated, self-confident, younger, and venturesome. They like in-store shopping but have low opinions of local shopping. Catalog shoppers have more flexible time requirements. In households with young children, in-home shopping is more likely if the woman works part time or not at all than full-time working mothers. In-home shoppers may be unable to comparison shop; may not be able to touch, feel, handle, or examine products firsthand; are concerned about service (such as returns); and may not have a salesperson to answer questions.
  2. Online/Mobile Shopping: People who shop online are often well educated and have above­average incomes (as stated in Chapter 6). As we noted earlier, online shopping encompasses more than just purchasing online. Using the Toys “R” Us Web site, shoppers can research items, check out prices, and place orders. Shoppers can have items shipped to them or can pick them up in-store. The retailer has two strong E-commerce Web sites: and These sites offer customers a large online choice of toys and baby products, provide free shipping on items costing $19 or more, and allow in-store pickup for online purchases. In addition to its Web sites, Toys “R” Us has over 1,600 company-operated stores and an additional 250 licensed stores in 39 countries and jurisdictions.12
  1. Outshopping: Out-of-hometown shopping, outshopping, is important for both local and surrounding retailers. The former want to minimize this behavior, whereas the latter want to maximize it. Outshoppers are often young, members of a large family, and new to the com­munity. Income and education vary by situation. Outshoppers differ in their lifestyles from those who patronize hometown stores. They enjoy fine foods, like to travel, are active, like to change stores, and read out-of-town newspapers. They also downplay hometown stores and compliment out-of-town stores. These are vital data for suburban shopping centers. Outshop- pers have the same basic reasons for out-of-town shopping whether they reside in small or large communities—easy access, liberal credit, store diversity, product assortments, prices, the presence of large chains, entertainment facilities, customer services, and product quality.

Source: Barry Berman, Joel R Evans, Patrali Chatterjee (2017), Retail Management: A Strategic Approach, Pearson; 13th edition.

2 thoughts on “Retail Consumer Needs and Desires

  1. Elise Facer says:

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