Former Procter & Gamble global marketing officer Jim Stengel said retailers face a “climate change” as shopper behaviour undergoes a fundamental and irreversible shift.

Stengel, who is chief executive of his eponymous think tank and consultancy, said that there was a “fundamental shift” in consumer spending patterns, which will have long-term repercussions for retailers long after the recession ends.

“It is not a weather change, it is a climate change,” he said at today’s World Retail Congress session on the new global consumer.

He said that even as data indicates that confidence is improving, a “recessionary mindset has taken hold” and consumers are saving their money and living within their means rather than spending.

He said that there were five opportunities that retailers should exploit to meet changing shopper needs.

Retailers must stand for something that matters, he said, citing French electricals retailer Darty and Marks & Spencer as good examples.

Playing a role in consumers’ lives is also essential he said, adding that Mexican womenswear retailer El Palacio de Hierro has successfully tapped in to shoppers’ psychology with its focus on women and the feminine.

Apple was a key example of a retailer focusing on ownership - and the consumer’s joy and pleasure in the after-sales experience - and not the transaction. This leads to brand loyalty, he added.

Retailers should cultivate smart and savvy shoppers and create joint value for retailers and brands, he added.