Research - 24.09.2013 - 00:00 

The Swiss like to shop online

HSG researchers have examined the development of shopping behaviour in foodstuffs, clothing, furniture, consumer electronics and sports. A survey was conducted among 1,800 consumers in Switzerland. Shopping online and across the border in neighbouring countries is popular.


25 September 2013. Consumers in Switzerland are changing their shopping habits. The internet is outdoing physical shops. Swiss products and event shopping are more popular than ever. The jungle of labels is confusing. People do not only like to shop online but also just across the border in neighbouring countries. According to a survey conducted by the Institute of Retail Management at the University of St.Gallen (IRM-HSG), these are the most important consumer trends in Switzerland.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Rudolph and Dr. Maximilian Weber of the Institute of Retail Management at the University of St.Gallen examined five Swiss retail industries for this study: foodstuffs, clothing, furniture, consumer electronics and sports. The survey was conducted among 1,800 shoppers in pedestrian precincts in German- and French-speaking Switzerland.

Consumers look for information online
In all five industries, the relevance of information on manufacturer and dealer websites has increased considerably. If in 2011, for example, the proportion of people who trusted online information when purchasing sports articles was 27.8%, since then it has risen to 38%.

Shop loyalty is decreasing in all the industries examined. In the case of foodstuffs, 57% of consumers indicated that they always use the same business. In all other industries, loyalty is distinctly lower. In the sports retail trade, only 35% of consumers always go to the same shop. In comparison with 2011, consumer loyalty has decreased strongly, particularly in consumer electronics (-27%), in the sports retail trade (-18%) and in the clothing retail trade (-13%). The retail trade will have to understand consumers’ motives for changing shops in more detail and try to inspire a higher degree of loyalty in customers.

Swiss foodstuffs are popular
Regionality and naturalness have remained the most important criteria for the purchase of foodstuffs. The criterion of “favourably priced food” has significantly lost in importance since 2011. This might be ascribed to a stronger health orientation and to the consumers’ assumption that favourably priced food is not always of high quality. The Swissness factor has been on the up and up since 2006: consumers are prepared to spend more money on good foodstuffs.

Shopping tour across the border
Shopping tourism is particularly widespread with regard to clothing and sports articles. 71% of interviewees indicate that they sometimes buy clothes abroad. In the case of sports articles, it is 61% who sometimes cross the border. 45% of interviewees sometimes buy foodstuffs abroad; in 2012, their proportion was still 37%.

Photo: Photocase / Complize

Discover our special topics