With the teenage years of this century almost over, we wonder will the tumultuous trends of the past decade change also. In part one we looked back at this year, highlighting trends that thrived in retail and what engaged consumer attitudes. In part two we look forward to the trends that will guide and bloom in 2020.
Cities are becoming smarter as AI becomes a staple in the retail industry. Utilising data to streamline infrastructure, companies are beginning to create a more personalised experience and discovery-based innovations.
Community is the new retail destination.
Brands are opening huge tech-infused flagships that offer more than just products. Based on interaction and building communities, companies like Nike, Samsung and Macy’s are investing in spaces that hold events, offer customised products and help shoppers seek true connection. The spaces also offer ultra-convenience, as well as inciting reactive relevance, which means these spaces are flexible enough to evolve along with consumer needs.
On the flip side, hyper-localised stores are also gaining traction, with brands like Ikea, Glossier and Nordstrom opening smaller local concepts that address and appeal to the specific needs of the area. Understanding a person’s wider needs and interests is paramount to brands sustaining a relationship, inciting a tailored approach to their personal needs.
Brands are playing with realism.
As the digital and physical merge, ideas so do ideas around what it means to be ‘real’. Using technology such as AR to blend the physical and digital brands are looking at the world with an escapist mindset, as they begin to play with perception, merging the imagination with real-life. This is also being used in immersive retail as brands have adopted a selfie mindset, utilising space to be shared online, as well as creating digital clothes which can be bought but only exist in the digital. They are also starting to utilise the opposite, using avatars to display real-life products, opting for a less human approach.
This year has seen people from all over the world engage with ethics and values, looking to brands to help guide decisions. Whether politically motivated, eco-conscious or gender-empowered, consumers are examining a brands ethos.
77% of Gen Z think brands need to adhere to higher ethical standards than they currently do.
Brands that are first adopters of eco-conscious narratives will thrive, education and transparency becoming key drivers for consumer loyalty.
Consumers will continue to expect anytime, anywhere information. Brands begin to utilise digital elements to help engage and educate consumers, as well s equip staff with in-depth knowledge of products and the brand. Gaining consumer trust will continue to be important, backing up actions with not just knowledge but action and result. Transparency on products, pricing and values will help increase trust and begin to build loyalty. Influenced by recommendations both online and offline, brands will have to find innovative ways to sustain loyalty with consumers having access to more choice than ever.
Consumers will seek an antidote from toxic online environments, looking for more intimate digital spaces to make meaningful connections. Finding like-minded peers that allow them to be truly themselves, regardless of geographical proximity. Looking for gratitude and grace will be themes that play out as people seek to bridge the gap of opposing views.
Betterment is the new perfection, people embrace empowerment, looking for brands to champion them for who they are. This encompasses all reaches of a brand, with consumers looking for brands to have honest media and store presence. Lo-fi content is often more popular than highly polished content, alluding to consumers wanting a more honest and real interaction with brands.
Interconnection is imperative when it comes to utilising technology.
Consumers no longer see the digital and physical realms as separate, so incorporating a seamless phygital identity and omnichannel is key. Brands should aim to create a constant narrative between the two, utilising tech to help inform, curate and persuade consumer decision making.
Tech-driven initiatives will help brands create hyper-personalised recommendations in real-time. Utilising AI, sensors, facial recognition and customer data, personalisation is now an expectation, brands should be using data to engage with consumers, offering them what they need before they even know it.
Innovating from within, companies should be equipping brands with future tech that will help them offer something unique. With society developing so quickly, investing in the invention will help brands be ahead of the curb rather than playing catchup and losing consumer excitement.
In this political climate, sitting on the fence is no longer an option. Brands are taking a stand to join the Black Lives Matter movement.
Against the backdrop of climate change, Greta Thunberg making it as Time magazine’s person of the year and a global health pandemic that is COVID-19, millennials’ successor, Gen Z has come of age.