In the dynamic retail landscape, disruption has become the norm. With rising consumer consciousness, heterogeneous shopper personas, shifting consumer tastes, preferences, patterns, and complex shopper journeys, traditional strategies to map consumers’ decision-making journeys fall short. Future-forward retailers must stay ahead of shifts in consumer behavior and respond to their evolving needs and preferences to succeed in a competitive market and provide sustainable business value.
This article outlines the significant findings of our research on consumer decision-making as a roadmap for retailers to match consumer needs and preferences, develop innovative approaches and strategies, and be future-ready in the face of market disruption.
The 3 ‘Ms’ of the shopper’s journey: Mission, Mindset and Moment
Our research reveals that a shopping decision is influenced by three critical factors known as the 3 Ms: Mission, Mindset, and Moment. These elements provide insight into the intention, cognitive processes, and contextual factors that shape shopper decision-making.
Mission: This element unpacks the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the shopper’s decision-making process. It explores the specific goals, intentions, or motivations driving the decision-making process.
Mindset: This factor delves into the ‘how’ of the shoppers’ decision-making process provides insights into their cognitive patterns and thought processes, including the specific goals, intentions, or motivations that influence their choices.
Moment: This factor examines the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of the shopper’s decision-making process. It identifies the key moments and contexts within the shopping journey, from initial discovery to evaluation, purchase, and beyond.
Here at Fractal, we have divided all shopper missions into five essential categories based on their frequency and engagement model:
1. Curate and Select 2. Need it Now 3. Help me Optimize 4. Break the Monotony 5. Help me Connect
What are these missions, and what do they mean for retailers?
1. Curate and select
This low-frequency mission involves shoppers investing considerable time in evaluating products based on their spending capacity, specific needs, and desires. It encompasses a range of items, from gift items to luxury cars, which require careful consideration.
Enhanced engagement: Shoppers crave immersive experiences that align with their core beliefs, nurturing solid emotional bonds and shaping their choices.
Streamlined decision-making: Consumers are saturated with diverse options in today’s market economy. To streamline their decision-making, they look for tailored and relevant filtering methods to help them make shopping decisions without feeling overwhelmed.
Research by Euromonitor International reveals that 51% of European consumers said they were seeking curated experiences tailored to their taste.
-Think with Google, 2021
2. Need it now
This low-frequency mission revolves around time-sensitive, goal-oriented shopping, where shoppers prioritize products with a sense of urgency. It covers various categories, such as apparel, homecare, and medicines, where immediate availability is crucial.
Instant gratification: Consumers demand on-demand products and services influenced by platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Retailers must prioritize convenience and accessibility.
Transparency and trust: Real-time updates and product tracking build trust and loyalty among time-sensitive shoppers.
I slipped in the bathroom and injured my foot. There was no one to help me plus since I live downtown, I don’t have a car. But I was able to order an ointment for pain relief as well as ice cream to cheer me up, off Instacart. It came within an hour, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
-Fractal Survey Results
Interest in a furniture item dropped by almost 40% when the lead time upped from two to five days.
-Discover Magazine, 2022
3. Break the monotony
This mission focuses on high-frequency, exploratory shopping missions where consumers seek to break the routine and find products that offer a sense of escape, elevation, or engagement. This includes categories like games and entertainment, apparel, and fitness.
Reimagined retail spaces: Consumers desire innovative stores that offer immersive environments, personalized offerings, and co-created experiences.
Store transformation: Physical stores are transforming into dynamic hubs that resemble trendy cafés, offering engaging experiences with a strong emphasis on entertainment and educational value.
A study found that 62% of shoppers bought something to cheer themselves up.
4. Help me optimize
This high-frequency, goal-oriented mission is aimed at restocking or replenishing. The exploration phase requires minimal time and effort. Examples include school and office supplies, kitchen essentials, and regular grocery staples.
Increased engagement drives purchases: Enhanced engagement and interaction drive heightened consumer purchasing, surpassing initial intent.
Shift towards spontaneous purchasing: The convenience of online and offline channels has shifted consumer preferences towards immediate purchases, replacing the traditional weekly stock replenishment approach.
I hate making lists and shopping for the same thing every week. Digital prompts on my phone for reloading staples enable me to get weekly refills within 5 mins from the comfort of armchair.
-Fractal Survey Results
5. Help me connect
This is an emerging mission that cuts across all categories. It addresses the consumer’s need for belonging, a desire for representation, and conscious living.
Co-creation and community: Consumers desire to co-create their retail journeys with like-minded individuals and brands that resonate with their values.
Community engagement: Consumers actively seek out community forums, focused groups, and memberships to build intimate relationships and foster a sense of connection.
Connection is the new currency. Consumers expect brands to serve as connectors, whether that means fostering a connection with their own customers or bringing together people with different perspectives.
Understanding these missions is crucial for retailers in today’s fast-paced retail landscape. By recognizing and aligning with these missions, retailers can strategically position themselves to meet their target customers’ specific needs and expectations. Here is what retailers can gain from understanding these missions:
1. Enhanced customer engagement: Tailoring offerings and experiences to align with each mission allows retailers to foster engaging and relevant customer interactions. The result? Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to higher sales.
2. Personalized marketing strategies: By gaining insight into the thought process and driving forces behind every objective, retailers can create focused marketing approaches that truly connect with their clientele. This empowers them to provide tailored communications and encounters that captivate customers and increase conversion rates.
3. Improved customer satisfaction: Improving the shopping experience by meeting customers’ needs and desires through mission-focused approaches drives customer satisfaction, positive word-of-mouth, and repeat business.
4. Data-driven decision-making: Retailers can boost their sales and impress their customers by leveraging mission insights. They can fine-tune their product offerings, pricing, promotions, and store layouts by delving into customer behavior and preferences for each mission. This data-driven approach guarantees better decision-making and heightened customer satisfaction.
Our Future of Retail study offers valuable research findings to help retailers capitalize on growth opportunities. Businesses must embrace digital transformation, change management, and take a multi-disciplinary approach to strategize and reshape their business models to meet market demands for future-focused, long-term business success. Furthermore, nurturing a culture of ethical enterprise innovation is integral to growth.
Image References:, : Emerging Shopping Missions, Mindsets and Moments in 2023. (January). Fractal. Wightman-Stone. (2021, April 12). Stella McCartney celebrating reopening with a series of pop-ups. Fashion United.  Secret, & Rashbaum. (2013, July 7). U.S. Seizes 14 7-Eleven Stores in Immigration Raids. The New York Times.  Louis Vuitton to launch NFT game with Beeple art. (2021, August 3). Ledger Insights. Our Cafes. (n.d.). Colombe Coffee Roasters. Geiran. (2023, February 10). Take your date to the grocery store. Nespresso World of Coffee Platform. (n.d.). Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign. (n.d.). ,,,Emerging Shopping Missions, Mindsets and Moments in 2023. (January). Fractal.