The consumer-retailer relationship is based on an economic transition, but it is also a social interaction. The norms of economic and social behavior permeate, inform and, in some cases constrain the retail-consumer interactions. This depends on culture, but culture is a complex, multi-dimensional concept that derives from a range of personal and group values and attitudes (De Mooij & Hofstede, 2002). There are a number of implications of culture and its components. As culture is absorbed, learnt and transmitted from generation to generation, certain aspects of it may become deep-rooted and thus hard to change. At the same time, behaviors and codes of conduct change over time, and this change is becoming faster due to the convergence at international level of income, media, and technology (Bullmore, 2000), on one side, and the increased mobility of people, on the other side, that favor the encounter and interaction between different cultures. As a consequence of cultural change, consumers change and their behavior alters over time. As economies and societies have developed so consumers have evolved. Norms of consumers behavior that were once thought to be immutable have altered in few years. The way in which time and money are interrelated is one illustration of this process. Consumers decide which of their wants they wish to satisfy, and how, when and where they are going to obtain satisfaction. They are also aware of sustainability issues related to products, production processes and also distribution processes. The shopping behavior is changing as well. And so the elements of the retail offer that attract customers and encourage them to purchase or consume have changed. Much more attention has to be paid by retailers to elements of store design, ambience and smell as well as issues to do with the balance between price, service and quality. Consumers expect to be more in control of the shopping trip and to be on occasions entertained (Birtwistle et al., 1998). Companies, both at the production and the distribution level, react and adapt to these changes. However, their responsive nature has not to be over-emphasized. Whilst companies operate mainly within cultural norms and thus reflect these, they can also shape the cultural norms in many ways. In recent years the retail sector played a relevant role in this direction. Firstly because of its increased autonomy from manufacturing industry and the adoption of brand strategies that enforced the retailer’s identity. Secondly, since shopping has become something more than a necessary activity – with leisure and entertainment components – new horizons to the development of enriched shopping experiences started to be opened on the basis of lifestyle and culture elements related to the retailer’s identity and brand. This means that retail operations and environments are no more neutral entities, but rather can condition and structure consumer moods and behaviors and in some cases can over the long term influence cultural norms (Freathy, 2003). With the emergence of modern techniques of retailing and the raise of large retail companies and new retail forms and formats, retailing assumed a more central role to consumers’ concerns. The changes described above require an examination and updating of knowledge on consumers and their buying behavior, in order to suggest solutions to companies for new models and operating tools in their marketing strategies. This issue of the journal focuses on some topics related to the changes that are occurring. The first three contributes deepen some aspects of the in-store interaction within the retailer-consumer relationship. The fourth and fifth contributes deal with Corporate Social Responsibility as a strategy by which retailers are responding to an increased public demand for more sustainability in economic activities and trade.

Special issue on "Retailer-Consumer Relationships"

MUSSO, FABIO
2012-01-01

Abstract

The consumer-retailer relationship is based on an economic transition, but it is also a social interaction. The norms of economic and social behavior permeate, inform and, in some cases constrain the retail-consumer interactions. This depends on culture, but culture is a complex, multi-dimensional concept that derives from a range of personal and group values and attitudes (De Mooij & Hofstede, 2002). There are a number of implications of culture and its components. As culture is absorbed, learnt and transmitted from generation to generation, certain aspects of it may become deep-rooted and thus hard to change. At the same time, behaviors and codes of conduct change over time, and this change is becoming faster due to the convergence at international level of income, media, and technology (Bullmore, 2000), on one side, and the increased mobility of people, on the other side, that favor the encounter and interaction between different cultures. As a consequence of cultural change, consumers change and their behavior alters over time. As economies and societies have developed so consumers have evolved. Norms of consumers behavior that were once thought to be immutable have altered in few years. The way in which time and money are interrelated is one illustration of this process. Consumers decide which of their wants they wish to satisfy, and how, when and where they are going to obtain satisfaction. They are also aware of sustainability issues related to products, production processes and also distribution processes. The shopping behavior is changing as well. And so the elements of the retail offer that attract customers and encourage them to purchase or consume have changed. Much more attention has to be paid by retailers to elements of store design, ambience and smell as well as issues to do with the balance between price, service and quality. Consumers expect to be more in control of the shopping trip and to be on occasions entertained (Birtwistle et al., 1998). Companies, both at the production and the distribution level, react and adapt to these changes. However, their responsive nature has not to be over-emphasized. Whilst companies operate mainly within cultural norms and thus reflect these, they can also shape the cultural norms in many ways. In recent years the retail sector played a relevant role in this direction. Firstly because of its increased autonomy from manufacturing industry and the adoption of brand strategies that enforced the retailer’s identity. Secondly, since shopping has become something more than a necessary activity – with leisure and entertainment components – new horizons to the development of enriched shopping experiences started to be opened on the basis of lifestyle and culture elements related to the retailer’s identity and brand. This means that retail operations and environments are no more neutral entities, but rather can condition and structure consumer moods and behaviors and in some cases can over the long term influence cultural norms (Freathy, 2003). With the emergence of modern techniques of retailing and the raise of large retail companies and new retail forms and formats, retailing assumed a more central role to consumers’ concerns. The changes described above require an examination and updating of knowledge on consumers and their buying behavior, in order to suggest solutions to companies for new models and operating tools in their marketing strategies. This issue of the journal focuses on some topics related to the changes that are occurring. The first three contributes deepen some aspects of the in-store interaction within the retailer-consumer relationship. The fourth and fifth contributes deal with Corporate Social Responsibility as a strategy by which retailers are responding to an increased public demand for more sustainability in economic activities and trade.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2532382
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