Brian Walker

The collective unconscious consists of the sum of the instincts and their correlates, the archetypes. Just as everybody possesses instincts, so he also possesses a stock of archetypal images. – Carl Jung

Redefine, reimagine, research, rebuild, replay and so the list goes on, and will there ever be a new normal or a back to the future if you like? Will there be a new wave of jingoistic phrases to capture attention?

What do we at Retail Doctor Group see happening through this slow and steady return to what will be the norm?

Is the natural online activity, a natural outcome of this global health crisis, stamping the new order of all retail? Really?

Perhaps the physical shopping experience is not done quite yet, in fact, why would people head back to malls and shops once again post COVID?

Firstly, above all, the human instinct is to be social, extended periods of isolation has, for most people, a negative consequence.

This social instinct defined as: The desire for social contact and a feeling of belonging, as manifested by the tendency to congregate, affiliate, and engage in group behaviours.

In the individual psychology of Alfred Adler, an innate drive for cooperation that leads individuals to incorporate social interest and the common good into their efforts to achieve self-realization.

Perhaps put another way, we generally like the physical and social interaction of our shopping experiences, hanging out at the mall, being part of a community or perhaps a tribe,

We also know intimately that it is our limbic brain, the processor of our human emotion, that drives our buying decisions, on average at a ratio off 6:1 over the functional logical rational context, Shopping in the physical sense is our best shot at triggering the human emotion, Hands down – Online is quite the opposite.

The other factor is that we are also largely creatures of habit, and binaural scientists at Amazon and the like, know that at least 65% of our grocery purchases are the same product and brand. It also tells us that we have repeated neuron pathways that lead us to do what we do habitually, I suppose in that sense, a little like muscle memory.

Will, we in droves, abandon physical shopping for the pleasures of being singular, isolated, and keyboard dependent, breaking our habitual behaviour and need for social context?

We don’t believe so, in fact, what the new normal will probably show us, is a type of back to the future indeed, where our COVID 19 period of isolation has accelerated our understanding of online production, transaction and usage and it will increase naturally as a consequence

However, it won’t and can’t replace the physical experience, especially done well, It can and should be a channel of online within the branded experience – human, interesting, fascinating, fresh and, dare I say it, even a bit exciting.

Many would suggest that we are buying when we transact online and all the functional logic that entails, physical shopping, on the other hand, is the genesis of emotional contact and context.

So ye naysayers retreating to believe that we will live in a world of depleted and devoid of the physical shopping experience post-COVID.

Even a rudimentary assessment of the human condition and its emotional drivers would certainly argue otherwise.

Brian Walker is the founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, a retail advisory and consultancy group and the Australian elected partner member of the global retail expert’s alliance, Ebeltoft Group.

Have a look at previous articles written by Retail Doctor Group:

  1. How to predict your customer’s needs post Covid-19?
  2. Australian consumer sentiment during COVID-19 and its implications for retailers and brands
  3. Crossing the retail bridge to the new world