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Viva la (retail) revolución: Shoppers have changed, so brands must too

By Dan Lord, Senior Creative Director

Jack Morton


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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November 16, 2023 | 5 min read

The rapid shifts of the last few years have changed shoppers irrevocably. It’s time for brands to celebrate that, say Dan Lord and Rebecca Amey of Jack Morton for The Drum’s retail deep dive.

An Adidas store on the water

Retailers will thrive today by 'thinking outside the store', say Rebecca Amey and Dan Lord / Image courtesy of Adidas / Jack Morton

As the Covid-19 pandemic’s worst effects waned, brands and retailers found themselves grappling with the long-term impact on shopper behavior, jeopardizing the future of brick-and-mortar business.

As a multitude of factors sustain economic uncertainty through 2024, two questions loom large: what are these evolving needs and values of today’s shoppers, and how can retailers worldwide respond effectively?

The post-pandemic retail revolution is here, and to thrive, brands need to understand it – not fight it. To do that, they need to understand today’s shoppers, and how they’ve changed.

1. The pro-choice consumer

Uncertainty is our new normal. Amid economic slowdowns and rising costs of living, consumers have grown more selective about their priorities, regardless of their financial status.

The result: today’s shoppers are pro-choice. They prioritize convenience, value, and sustainability more than ever before. They lean toward online and social media shopping, showing less loyalty to traditional brands. Their cautious, selective mindset to retail, is how they reclaim a feeling of choice, and it’s reshaped brand engagement permanently.

2. The social shopper

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are gone. These environments must now offer value beyond the purchase, as people yearn for real-world experiences and connections in a screen-dominated world.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENAT) region in particular, shopping is a staple of the social fabric, and retail brands have risen to the challenge by transforming shopping into a lifestyle experience. Stores like THAT concept store in Dubai Mall have reimagined retail as places for creation, interaction, and entertainment. These cultural ‘hub’ concepts have contributed to Dubai Mall’s annual visitor count surging to 100 million.

3. The new pace of change

The future of brick-and-mortar retail looks bright, but brands must keep pace with change, especially in serving gen Z. This younger generation holds significant buying power, accounting for 30% of the global population.

Gen Z shoppers buy based on values and beliefs. They demand innovation and hybrid retail experiences. Brands like Nike and Adidas have embraced direct-to-consumer strategies and digital membership platforms to cater to this audience’s expectations. Personalization is key, with innovations like AR-enabled changing rooms and real-time product scanning enhancing the shopping experience.

4. Stores as stages

Successful retail brands treat their physical stores as stages, immersing customers in the brand’s promise. These brands use technology to enhance environments, making products central to culture and stores central to communities.

For example, Adidas has embedded this mindset in cutting-edge stores, creating spaces that bring brand stories to life in imaginative ways. Stores rooted in storytelling, coupled with intelligent tech usage, deepen customer connections, and build cultural credibility. Whether it’s diving underwater, climbing mountain tops, or transporting fans into virtual football worlds, interaction, education and emotion are at the core.

5. How to think outside the shop

Today’s cultural retail experiences can extend beyond the walls of a brand’s store. Done right, they can credibly go wherever their audience hangs out. Most consumers, including the youngest shoppers (who have some of the greatest purchasing power), seek disruptive, innovative, and consumer-centric brands and experiences.

From festivals to fashion shows, taking your brand or product story to places that resonate authentically with your audience will spike engagement with your brand.

To join the revolution, brands must unlearn and think outside the shop, breaking physical boundaries to embrace brand experiences in the ever-evolving worlds of their audiences.

Get ready for the retail world of the future with more smart thinking and detailed analysis over at our dedicated deep dive hub.

Bricks and Mortar Retail Retail Deep Dive Retail

Content by The Drum Network member:

Jack Morton

No one sets out to be average. No one aspires to be ordinary. Jack Morton is an award-winning global brand experience agency that exists to reimagine what an experience...

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