Think of your shopping habits compared with 10 years ago.
Are they any different today? Chances are they are. And in what way?
The most striking difference will most likely be in your loyalty (or otherwise) to particular retailers or brands. Because back then, the global financial crisis was just about to hit us and smartphones were in their infancy.
What we didn't realise is that these two things would revolutionise not just our shopping behaviour but our attitude to brands.
Whereas before we would behave in a manner more reflecting our parents - those born in the baby boomer years (and before) who gathered 'stuff' - in a manner which bemuses current day millennials.
The Consumer Comes Of Age
That global financial crisis not only dented our already fragile confidence in bankers, it fundamentally shifted our belief systems. No more were we slaves to whatever was pushed in our direction.
And then the consumer finally came of age - and with that smartphone in our pockets, we had the means by which to exercise our new found consumer confidence. We flexed our muscles and exerted our influence on retail brands; long since bloated on the idea that they could simply stack their shelves and we would come calling.
"The financial crisis gave us the incentive, that smartphone in our pockets provided us with the tool and social media the platform by which we
could finally exert pressure on retailers"
When Trust Is Eroded
After years of observing, with quiet admiration, I recently made my first purchase from a certain High Street fashion retailer who would like us to believe that it has a Japanese heritage.
I was in need of a new winter jacket and was very satisfied to find the one I wanted.
But after only two weeks of use, the zip completely gave out. £85 worth of jacket pretty much binned.
Both emotionally and psychologically I was ready to commit my (albeit limited) loyalty to this brand. And yet now I feel let down, almost betrayed that this commitment has in some way been for nothing.
This is likely to be my last experience with this particular brand; the unwritten consumer - retailer trust agreement has been broken. Tolerance and patience are virtues not commonly associated with consumers these days.
Rationally, I can understand that these things happen. But emotionally, it is a different story.
The relationship between consumer and retailer today is more tenuous and fragile than ever. Loyalty is a thing of the past.
In this example, it was the product which let the brand down; different brand different scenario it could just as easily be customer service which caused that breakdown in trust.
Today we are far less tolerant, less forgiving and certainly less patient with retailers and brands than ever before.
And one thing is clear; give customers a reason to follow your brand and they'll do so willingly. Give them a reason to dislike it and they'll drop you like a ton of bricks.
Andrew Busby is Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections, a globally recognised retail influencer and an IBM Futurist.