The four types of shoppers

The GDI study "Going shopping is dead" identifies four shopper types: aimless dawdlers, strict needs shoppers, open-minded optimisers and efficient identity shoppers. Learn more about the different types and what makes them tick.
7 December, 2023 by
The four types of shoppers
GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute

The time stress to which consumers are increasingly exposed is threatening to plunge the retail sector into a fundamental crisis. Saving time is more important to customers than saving money. Our representative study "Going Shopping is Dead" shows that shopping is no longer a leisure activity for the Swiss. Strolling around is out.

However, not every interviewee finds grocery shopping tedious or dislikes shopping. There are sometimes big differences between genders or age groups. The different attitudes to shopping are illustrated in the study with four shopper types:

The open-minded optimisers have a fairly balanced attitude towards shopping. Although they love speed and efficiency, they also like to feel inspired depending on the shopping situation and occasion. They usually only go shopping when they actually need something, but they are open to new ideas. It is first and foremost this openness that distinguishes them from the more hard-line, disciplined needs-based shoppers. However, even for the open-minded optimisers, shopping hardly forms the basis of their identity. Compared to the average, they spend slightly less time shopping per week (-5.5 minutes). This reflects their need for efficiency.
Compared to the overall population, people between the ages of 25 and 54 are disproportionately represented in the group of open-minded optimisers. The gender distribution, on the other hand, is balanced.

Disciplined needs-based shoppers only go shopping when they really need something. When they go shopping, they make it as fast and efficient as possible. They plan their shopping in advance and leave the house with a shopping list, which they work through quickly. Shopping is neither fun nor inspiring for them – its purpose is to meet their needs. The strategy pays off in terms of time: disciplined needs-based shoppers spend by far the least time shopping per week at 101 minutes. This is about 14 minutes less per week than the average for Switzerland.
Over 55s are disproportionately represented in the segment of disciplined needs-based shoppers. Moreover, a slightly above-average proportion of this category are men.

Efficient identity-based shoppers are people who use consumption and material things to express themselves and their personality and to develop their identity. Shopping contributes to their self-esteem and enables them to realise certain goals and aspirations. Although they are open to new things and like to feel inspired, they usually plan their shopping in advance to save time. Going shopping does not necessarily require a specific need, but it is usually the reason for a shopping trip.
Efficient identity-based shoppers are predominantly younger people. Compared to the total population, people up to 39 years of age are significantly overrepresented. Men are also slightly overrepresented.

Aimless browsers include people who like to go shopping without knowing exactly what they need. They enjoy strolling aimlessly through the shops and being inspired by the different offers. In shops, they like to take their time to browse and try things out. They are open to new things and love to be surprised. A shopping trip is a way for them to develop their personal style and have fun. Of all the types, they spend the most time shopping.
People up to 24 years of age and women are clearly overrepresented among aimless browsers compared to the total population. The browsers enjoy buying clothes the most – not groceries like all the other types.

Die vier Shopper-Typen im Überblick (German, PDF)

An overview of the four shopper types (English, PDF)

Neugierig, welchem Shopper-Typ Sie angehören? Dann machen Sie jetzt den Selbsttest!


The study «Ausgebummelt – Wege des Handels aus der Spass- und Sinnkrise» can be downloaded free of charge.

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