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The Smart Shopper and the Value Gap

How to Design Experiences that Exceed Your Customer’s Expectations

Shep Hyken interviews Ian Johnston, Founder of Quinine, a leading strategic retail design consultancy devoted to the power of design that drives innovation and growth. He talks about building trust and loyalty by designing meaningful customer engagement.

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Top Takeaways:

  • A smart shopper is more than a way to describe a segment of your customers. Every customer seeks value whether they are buying luxury goods or everyday items. Smart shoppers take their past experiences and compare them to the experiences they have with you.
  • The Value Gap is when a customer feels that they are getting more than they paid for. When they get more benefits than the price, this is when customer satisfaction is highest.
  • Value is constantly changing. Each customer segment looks at different aspects of value differently. They may value price, quantity, brand virtues, sustainability, or the look and feel of a store. You have to move with your customers as their expectations of value change. To exceed their expectations, you have to meet them first.
  • Customer service, virtues, and values will differentiate your brand. In retail, you can use your store to bring your company’s virtues and values to life by promoting and reinforcing the value proposition in your marketing campaigns.
  • The customer’s baseline expectations are shaped by society. If you don’t meet the expectations of the customer and that of the community, you will get left behind.


“Our expectations aren’t necessarily set by our competitors. They are set by everything that happens in the world.”

“There are certain aspects of value that aren’t tied to price and quality. Virtues and how a company treats its staff are aspects of value that are gaining more importance for customers.”

“Look at your customer journey and find opportunities to add value so you can, not just meet, but exceed your customer’s expectations.”

“The moment of delight happens when you create the value gap, and your customers walk away from the experience thinking that they got more than what they paid for.”


Ian Johnston is the Founder of Quinine, a leading strategic retail design consultancy devoted to the power of design to drive innovation and growth. The consultancy helps brands create world-class social, cultural, and commercial experiences that enrich and delight their customers’ everyday lives.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and your host of Amazing Business Radio.

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. What is the Value Gap?
  2. What is a Smart Shopper?
  3. How can you understand customer expectations?
  4. How do you create meaningful customer engagement?
  5. What do customers value most in a business?

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