KNect365 is part of the Knowledge and Networking Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


High Anxiety: Why Shoppers Are Stressed Out

Woman reading product information on label

I live with an anxious person, so I think a lot about how anxiety impacts our lives. But until recently, I’d never considered how anxiety might impact my area of study: shopper behavior. And yet, it makes a lot of sense.

It’s well known that we live in a time when shoppers have more choices than ever before. The number of products in the average supermarket has gone from about 9,000 in 1975 to almost 39,000 in 2016, according to the Food Marketing Institute, and the internet has created a pathway to purchase for almost any product imaginable. All these options can confuse or overwhelm shoppers.

Meanwhile, shoppers’ lives have also become more complex. From healthcare concerns to job changes and side hustles, American shoppers are feeling the pressure. A few statistics from our recent Murphy Research shopper behavior study bring this into stark relief: 38% of shoppers don’t feel in control of their health, 34% never have enough money to pay basic expenses, and only 55% feel confident about their financial future.

For brands and retailers, it’s critical to be aware of this reality and have empathy with the needs and demands of their shoppers. Understanding the consumer journey should include more than just a study of a category’s path to purchase, but also a deeper exploration into key life issues impacting their target shoppers.

A key insight that demonstrates just how big of an issue anxiety is in the shopping realm: our research finds that fully one third of shoppers say shopping “makes them anxious.” In addition, 35% do not enjoy shopping.

So who are these anxious shoppers -- and how can brands and retailers better understand them to generate greater empathy and connection with them?

You might picture the typical anxious shopper to be some 67-year-old lady with a lot of cats (don’t get me wrong, that will be me – nothing against ladies with lots of cats). But, anxious shoppers are actually more likely to be millennials. They are frequent shoppers and purchase both online and in-store. These shoppers are willing to pay more for convenience and prefer personalized shopping experiences. They also plan less and often make impulse purchases.

Even if you’re not an anxious shopper, it’s likely you serve them. Today’s general shopper profile looks a lot like the neurotic shoppers of the past. Today, 62% of shoppers say they always research online before purchase. Even for low consideration categories like health and beauty, 85% of shoppers make a plan before visiting the store – and most often, it’s through online research. So, whether you work in athletic apparel, automotive, or paper plates, consider it a given that your shoppers today are anxious about getting a good deal or choosing the right brand.

Providing solutions for these anxious shoppers is critical – they want their shopping needs met through convenience, outsourcing and personalization options. To get inside the heads of this growing segment of shoppers, consider what you’re doing to put shoppers at ease:

  • What aspects of your shopping and retail experience help shoppers learn more about your products quickly and easily?
  • Which tools you have in place to provide greater convenience, even at incremental cost?
  • How you are providing unique, personalized shopping experiences?

If you’re not adequately addressing these issues today, contact Murphy Research to explore creative ways to uncover the changing needs of your shoppers (the anxious and happy go lucky ones alike).


About the author:

DEVORA ROGERS, VP, Account Management at Murphy Research, is a driven innovation strategist and business leader, who brings extensive shopper marketing, digital tech, and analytics experience to her work. Devora was instrumental in pioneering new path to purchase methodology adopted by Google as the basis of their groundbreaking 2011 ZMOT study. Prior to joining Murphy Research, Devora has worked for Inmar, Interpublic Group, and Yahoo, among others. Devora has written for Huffington Post, AdAge, and iMedia and is a regularly featured speaker at industry and client conferences. She is co-author of the shopper marketing and retail book, “Fire in the Zoo”.

Get articles like this by email