Customer 3.0 Retailing is (not) a picnic

  • Article
  • retail Design
  • Customer 3.0

He is individualistic by nature, attaches importance to values and has a critical stance towards consumption: that is Customer 3.0. As a new customer type, he poses a huge challenge for retailing and sales because he does not belong to any of the existing categories. He cannot be classified by age, income or education, is not necessarily a digital native. But he is self-assured, wants to make an active contribution and is not satisfied with bog-standard solutions. He wants to be courted and rarely gives brands a second chance. 

It is no wonder that retailers are bewildered by Customer 3.0. After all, how can a target group be served that no longer exists as a homogeneous group? How can one handle the unforeseeable skittishness of target persons who stock up with brands, me-too products and no-name articles wherever it takes their fancy? How can the purchase decision be influenced of Customer 3.0 listens more closely to his digital friends and influencers than to established brands?

With the new customer type, customer orientation has reached a new dimension. “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology”, was already credo preached by Steve Jobs back in 1997. Whether he was the inventor of Customer 3.0 or the discoverer – he clearly found the right answer. Instead of focusing on products and marketing, successful companies turn their attention to people, ask what they need. What are the preferences and wishes of the customer? What barriers does he and his purchase decision come up against during his day-to-day consumption? Only when companies have answers to these questions can they decide which channels make sense. Future-oriented business models are thus geared to the individual and his situation needs.


Creative omnichannel offers which allow an interchangeable combination of online shopping and conventional shopping and various modes of payment as required are the future of retailing. They don’t make brick-and-mortar retailing superfluous, but realign it with customer needs. According to a recent GfK study, brick-and-mortar shops will in fact remain the most important sales element until 2025. Sophisticated omnichannel concepts will mean that the customer doesn’t have to choose between channels, but can select the one which is the most convenient and most agreeable on a case-by-case basis.

This means that brick-and-mortar retailing will be assigned a new role. The store of the future serves the discerning purchaser as consultation, communication and display area. People will still want to go round the shops in future, try on clothes, smell shampoos or ask knowledgeable staff for advice. The desire to go shopping as an experience is as strong as ever. However, sales spaces need to adjust to the volatile behavior of the buyers.

Temporary spaces will become more interesting for Customer 3.0, who is more spontaneous but also easier to activate. Due to his more casual, but multichannel purchase process, the dual customer likes to make his purchase decision directly at the moment of the experience. Prepared and well informed by the internet, social media, friends and recommendations he is well equipped to decide spontaneously. This is to the advantage of retailers. Large shop floors have anyway become less interesting purely for cost reasons, while mobile or mini-formats encourage experimentation, surprises and experiential shopping – a win-win situation.


Statistically, permanent stores are in decline, but the current megatrend towards urbanity is driving people back into the cities. Environmentally conscious, thanks to car-sharing frequently without a car, Customer 3.0 wants to be near to his special favourites. Indeed, the real estate industry assumes that in future we will see a more colourful and more attractive retail landscape that is above all better attuned to the needs of the customers. A blend of art, culture, hospitality and also retailing – as is already emerging in today’s cities, off the beaten track. There are good prospects for success and even growth in retailing.

Whether showroom, flagship, standard store or pick-up point, brick-and-mortar retail outlets have developed from the point-of-sale to the emotional touch point. They become a lighthouse in the customer journey if they unite state-of-the-art technologies, customer requirements and sales tools and multi-sensually transport the look and feel of the brand into the spatial dimension.