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Shopper Trends|September 26, 2022

Shoppers are Lonely, Anxious. Retail Therapy is a Solution

Despite their pursuit of wellness, more shoppers are experiencing new, and unexpected, health issues like loneliness, WSL research shows. Some retailers have been incorporating social environments in their physical stores as a way to reintroduce facetime, but is it enough for shoppers, and what is the role of brands?

Shoppers are Lonely. Retail Can Help.

Hitting the mall was once an opportunity to socialize and spend a fun day. Getting out, eating, shopping and meeting friends made us feel better. But today, thanks to online shopping and fast delivery, shopping has become one more lone-wolf activity, along with streaming, binge-watching, gaming and dressing your avatar.

These digital conveniences that replace physical interactions are creating new health issues that present opportunities for retailers and brands. Our How America Shops® research shows:


Our Retail Safari® scouts have found retailers that are reshaping their spaces to welcome these and other shoppers with new social and mood-lifting environments, taking the traditional dine-in area or coffee bar to the next level.

  • Dom’s Kitchen & Market in Chicago, invites shoppers to enjoy a bottle of wine in Dom’s meeting space.

  • Central Market in Dallas welcomes shoppers before store hours to sit with their coffee. The Mushroom Class or Mother’s day flowers classes on topics shoppers want to explore.

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods offers wellness consultations with local experts. A sign in the store reads, When “I” is replaced with “we” even illness becomes wellness.

Brands Have a Place in Community Spaces, Too

Brands have the opportunity to find roles in these social spaces, because often these spaces reduce the space available for shelves of products. It’s easy for food and beverages to take advantage, but here’s what we suggest, based on our shopper insights.

  • Keep it simple. Brands should present a good case to support why they should be featured in “communal” spaces. Remember these spaces are about connecting and having fun, so brands need to deliver messages that contribute to the mood.
  • Don’t be shy: Many “private” categories are now being boldly displayed on endcaps, where shoppers might not expect to see them. Menstruation, sexual health, smoking cessation and addiction are all product areas that have seen increased sales since 2018. It’s time for brands to offer shopper-patients solutions.
  • Does everything need to be on the shelf? Nearly 85% of shoppers have used a brand website in the past year to learn about health solutions. So ask: Is this the time to sell shoppers the products you already showcase, or the products that did not make it onto the shelf? Is it time to introduce shoppers to a new product, or maybe sell them a product that has a niche following?

The retailers that are creating new spaces to support emerging health needs are getting ahead of the emerging trend of shopper loneliness and anxiety. This gives them an edge. Brands that become a part of these spaces can, in turn, give their retail partners and edge. Together, they should jump at the opportunity to re-connect physically and understand the power in numbers.

To read up on the latest shopper sentiment regarding WELLness and what your retail and brand peers are doing to meet those preferences, visit our dedicated WELL microsite and contact us to get the full report.

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