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Shopper Trends|December 04, 2020

WSL’s Retail Caring Scores: What Matters to Shoppers?

WSL asked shoppers to rate retailers based on measures that show how much they CARE about their customers in the midst of the pandemic. The results: Being cared for means keeping shoppers WELL, not just with sanitizers and masks, but encouraging the purchase of healthier choices and creating happy, low-stress experiences.

When it Comes to Caring, Shoppers Judge Retailers Hard

What does CARING for your shoppers mean during a pandemic? Protecting shoppers and employees from the virus is No. 1 today, but shoppers offer a long-term view of how they want to be cared for post-Covid-19.  

WSL revisited our Caring Scores, first established in 2019, and asked shoppers to rank retailers based on nine attributes that are more important now, from virus protection to low-stress shopping and helpful associates. We reported our latest Caring Scores for a range of retailers, which are detailed in our How America Shops® report, “RESET The Big Business of WELL.”

Here are our key takeaways. (Spoiler alert: The average score, out of 10, was 7.15)

Shoppers Rated Two Retail Features as Most Important

Care – yes with a capital C – means helping customers feel safe and well – emotionally, physically and mentally. Shoppers told us they expect retailers to Care in two ways:

Support the BIG View of WELL.

Besides keeping shoppers and employees virus-free, retailers need to help customers achieve self-care. This means offering a broad selection of affordable, healthier choices, displayed prominently to encourage people to buy healthier options. Adding health services also drives Caring scores.

There were some surprises at the top of the 2020 Caring list – notably Costco and specialty Beauty chains Sephora and Ulta.

Takeaway: What these retailers have in common is they place healthy choices front and center on good-for-you endcaps that make it easy for shoppers to interpret what is better for them.

A Friendly Experience.

A happy store is created by helpful employees, who reduce stress and encourage shoppers to feel cared for. Beauty chains and Walgreens scored big for both happy and low-stress stores. Shoppers also gave high “experience” ratings to retailers that offer easy online shopping options.

Amazon, predictably, ranked high for low-stress shopping, while specialty Warehouse clubs rounded out the top three for a happy experience.

Takeaway: Shoppers can tell when employees are stressed or apathetic, and it rubs off. Conversely, a culture that keeps associates informed and delivers encouraging feedback goes a long way to creating a happy shopping place.

However, Let’s Not Overlook Value

Shoppers rated value for money lower than a happy experience and healthy choices, but don’t interpret this to mean low prices are less important in showing that retailers care. We suspect the lower ranking is due to practice – shoppers already know how to get the lowest prices. However, a lot of shoppers have a dilemma figuring out what is healthy, which makes easy-to-follow WELL choices and services more precious to them.

Caring about shoppers and their health is a powerful differentiator for retailers. But now they have to do even better at showing how they care about helping shoppers live a life of self-care. Take a page from specialty beauty retailers, with their emphasis on self-care, healthy choices and friendly service.

Want to know more? You can access information about our WELL initiative and our report, “RESET The Big Business of Well,” here.

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