Deadliest shopping species is the male

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The Independent Online
RESEARCHERS HAVE utilised "spies" and spent five years video- taping thousands of consumers to identify for retailers the seven definitive types of British shopper.

They range from the "county classics" (married women over 35) to "young fashionables" (in search of an identity). But by far the most worrying type for retailers are the "shopping saboteurs" - men who suffer symptoms of "shopping overload". They may become quiet and unresponsive or twitchy and argumentative and may exhibit aggressive behaviour even before arriving at the shops.

David Peek, a psychotherapist with a background in marketing, interviewed consumers in the south-east to create the psychographic profiles for Bluewater shopping centre, which opens in Kent on Tuesday. The shopping centre used the information to design a "psychologically tested" car park, "welcome halls" and a shopper-friendly map, in an attempt to thwart the saboteur.

"Shopping is a bit like dancing," Mr Peek said. "Your partner might be reluctant to take to the floor, but once they are motivated, they'll have more fun than anyone." He recommended takinghourly breaks, planning lunch somewhere "to break up the day" and agreeing on a spending limit in advance.

He said county classics is the largest cluster. "These shoppers are particularly interested in success; they are concerned about what others think of them and cynical about fashion. Penelope Keith has a touch of this about her."

Young fashionables are interested in "cosmetics, grooming and, because they are insecure, they are concerned about their visual health rather than their deep health", said Mr Peek, who identified a growing number of men in this bracket. David Beckham is a "classic".

"Club executives" are career-oriented people who are seeking status merchandise. Efficiency is essential when dealing with these men - and, increasingly, women. "They have a very short patience threshold when doing business. They are constantly comparing the service to that to which they aspire in their own business life," he said.

When it comes to catering to "home comfortables" - elderly customers with traditional tastes - the secret is to avoid challenging their outlook on life. "Home comfortables like to be served by people their own age," Mr Peek said.

Shopping can be therapy for the "young survivors". Mr Peek said: "These people have little talent in selling their skills and therefore have difficulty assembling wealth. If they are treated with respect they will find [shopping] a boost to their self-esteem."

"Sporting thirties" are people who refuse to grow up. "They really don't want to shop. They want to go to a bar," Mr Peek said. Then there are the "budget optimists" - the stoic South London types. They can live without the "ego massaging"; they are simply looking for "a sense of trust in their transactions".

The Seven Types of Spender

Club executives

"BMWs and Boss suits are part of their iconography"

County classics

"House-proud, shop at John Lewis

and Jaeger"

Sporting thirties

"Interested in sports with a destructive element"

Home comfortables

"Don't react well to young people"

Young fashionables

"In search of an identity"

Young survivors

"Want low-cost amusement"

Budget optimists "Don't need their egos massaging"