There are two kinds of shopping.
Hunting is the task based version when you know exactly what you want and desire to get it over with as soon as possible.
It's the supermarket shop, it's the traditional man looking to buy a shirt. But it's also the woman looking for the quintessential black dress (and rarely finding it), it's the guy looking the perfect suit for the first job.So it can be utterly practical or bursting with drama - the trepidation of not finding what you want, the joy of the find and the fleeting contentment of owning it and, in the case of clothes, wearing it.
Then there is gathering.
The simple joy of prowling the shops, the shelves (real and virtual) simply to have a look at what is out there and be joyfully surprised - that intense gladness of discovery. The frisson of indulgence and naughtiness when you find something you don't need but now want more than life itself. Especially clothes of course. Here, it's as much about identity construction as anything, heightened by our modern transformation culture. The possibility of discovering a new version of yourself to try on and keep, or discard. It's free, you don't have to buy anything, the object, it's IDEA, what it might say, what part of yourself it might suddenly awake is enough.
Increasingly for young men and well as women.
That's in direct contrast to hunting, where you already know what side of yourself you want to project. It might have inspired by all sorts of stuff, but the idea is there. That little black dress might be fulfulling the wish to become sophisticated, sexy and cosmopolitan, perhaps inspired by a film, an image or simply an occasion where you know how you want to come across. Equally, it could be the need to be seen as a 'creative' type - the jeans, ironic t-shirt and urban hippie look of the modern agency, or digital type.
Only the mentally disturbed don't look like they care about what they wear on purpose. Every decision about what we wear is a decision to show the world the person we want them to see, on some level.
Unlike the relief and satisfaction of hunting, gathering relieves our need for novelty and surprise, the need for some sort of chance that we could be more than we thought we could be, that life isn't fixed. That everything is up for grabs. It's safe adventure if you like.
It doesn't matter what shopping experience it is you are designing, it is either about finding something you want quickly - sometimes high drama, sometimes not- or wanting to research the world and be inspired. It's amazing how many retailers- on and offline - seem to either don't know this, or just ignore it.