Whether you call it a recession, a correction or a downturn, one thing is certain: costs are up, consumer confidence is down and many retailers are struggling to make ends meet.

The state of the Australian and global economy has seen the emergence of a new kind of consumer who is more attuned than ever before to fluctuating national and global trends. The modern consumer demands a new type of retail market, one which adapts and evolves in accordance with their needs.

Below are some changing consumer trends and suggestions on how retailers can adapt:

Consumer Change: Consumers are demonstrating a more attuned sense of social responsibility. They are interested in what retailers and manufacturers are doing in terms of corporate social responsibility.

Tips to Adapt: Go green and use social responsibility as an opportunity to sell. Capitalise on the green trend by recycling, using sustainable materials, efficient lighting, renewable energy and offsetting your carbon emissions – and be sure to let your customers know about the positive changes you have made.

Consumer Change: With all the doom and gloom forecasts and constant coverage of the struggling economy, consumers are looking for an escape. For many consumers, home makeovers are an appealing way to improve their lives.

Tips to Adapt: Incorporate visual merchandise products related to improving and updating the home space – anything from decorations and décor to feature pieces and furniture – to ensure you are appealing to your shoppers’ needs.

Consumer Change: Shopping now incorporates a new dimension: how a product makes the shopper feel. Beyond wanting to know what a product does and how much it costs, consumers want to know what it feels like to use.

Tips to Adapt: Provide an opportunity for your shoppers to interact with the product. Incorporate interactive displays that bring the product out of the box and into the senses of the consumer.

Consumer Change: Education and product knowledge is paramount to the modern consumer. This trend demonstrates another way that consumers are seeking to improve the aspects of their lives that are within their control.

Tips to Adapt: Incorporate an element of education in your store and provide the customer with an opportunity to increase their product knowledge. For example, if you sell gourmet food items, integrate some in-store cooking demonstrations to show how to use your product. This will give your customers a sense of empowerment – and they will find the aromas impossible to resist!

Consumer Change: Looking and feeling good is extremely important to the modern consumer. Appealing to a customer’s sense of wellness can be a powerful selling tool.

Tips to Adapt: Identify ways you can incorporate wellness and physical self-improvement into your store. For example, you may ask shoppers to drop their business cards in a bowl for a chance to win a luxury spa treatment; you get the contacts and the lucky shopper gets a chance to unwind.