We hear a great deal about how modern consumers, and the whole retail landscape, are changing. Expert predictions about the latest trends, and how they will play out in the coming years, are a dime a dozen. As a retailer, it can sometimes feel like you’re navigating a minefield. There are so many things you could do to attract, retain and impress customers, but will they all pay off?
Beyond the headlines, what is clear is that retail continues to transform and reinvent itself, like it has always done. And consumers want retailers to keep up with the major trends. At the same time, they also want many of the same old things.
Without being able to generalize, a number of consumer surveys show that modern consumers don’t want magic mirrors or robot sales clerks. More than anything, they want skilled customer service, personalization and convenience.
That doesn’t mean, though, that they don’t want to be surprised and delighted. And it surely doesn’t mean that tech is useless. Consumers want to shop in stores with fresh, new concepts; they want to be entertained; they prioritize health and wellness; they want a frictionless retail experience; and they are more conscious of their impact on the environment, which reflects in their shopping habits. To capture consumers’ attention, then, retailers must demonstrate that they have their finger on the pulse, and are diligent about perfecting the experiences they deliver.
Here are a few proven ways you can keep your brand current and on trend, and appeal to what your customers really want:
The modern consumer cares about the social and environmental impact of their purchasing and consumption. Suverys reveal that nearly 70% EU Millennials, and more than five out of ten consumers in general, consider a corporation’s values and commitment to social and environmental sustainability when making a purchase.
If until this point you’ve decided to sidestep the sustainability conversation, now is the time to establish your point of view and take action. Values-based consumers are just growing in number, and they will reward brands that enable them to consume in a more environmental and sustainable manner. Here are some ideas to kick-start your sustainability strategy:
- Explore different delivery options: super quick delivery is environmentally damaging, and it is not a priority for all consumers. You could give shoppers the choice of claiming extra loyalty points or receiving a discount code if they’re willing to wait a few extra days for delivery. This would allow you to ship the item on an ecologically efficient route and schedule, with lower emissions and less waste.
- Reduce your packaging and use recycled/recyclable materials: the days of extravagant packaging are over. Consumers prefer the back-to-basics approach. With many alternatives to single-use plastic packaging, you can investigate recycled cardboard and paper options, or even organic material packaging using cornstarch, mushrooms and seaweed.
- Stock items from eco-brands and products made from sustainable materials: e.g. some footwear brands have gone viral over their use of natural over synthetic fibers, appealing to fashion and ethically conscious consumers.
THINK ABOUT DESIGN-LED, “INSTAGRAMMABLE” STORE CONCEPTS
It may sound like a gimmick, but incorporating fun, photo-friendly moments can attract customers and build brand awareness. Social media platform Instagram confirmed that more than half of its users have discovered new products while using the social app.
Beauty brands have created “instagrammable” stores that are all about fulfilling their consumers’ quest for the perfect selfie. We’ve seen store features with pink walls, a red quartz staircase, and cylindrical podiums filled with products to encourage customers to snap and share photos as they shop. Reports say that such showrooms generated more revenue per square foot.
This trend is not just about building Instagram worthy locations, though. It’s about creating memorable experiences that tap into your target audience’s interests. Do it right, and you could become far more than just an overnight internet sensation.
HELP CUSTOMERS FEEL GOOD
Modern consumers highly value wellness, a term used to describe mental, physical and emotional health, and they want this to be reflected in their shopping experiences too. Shoppers want to see open spaces with lawns or greenery in shopping centers, and over a third want to shop at stores with healthy food options.
Although friends’ and family’s opinions are still important when it comes to product recommendations, consumer communities are becoming more influential. Shoppers are increasingly inclined to lean on a wider community of like-minded people, where they can tap into a brand’s customer knowledge base and converse and engage with peers. As a result, retailers and brands have been building their own social communities – both physical, through in-store events, and online.
GET INVOLVED IN THE SHARED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TREND
Part of the increased interest in sustainability is a growing demand for shared products and services. Our latest retail survey (March 2020) found that over half of consumers are willing to rent trendy, well-made products, and more than 70% are willing to partake in the sharing economy.
In the retail sector, high-end fashion brands have risen to prominence with their rent-a-dress models, making it possible for consumers to wear the latest expensive clothing items without spending a significant amount of money. But more sectors than just fashion and apparel are ripe for this trend. Indeed, one-fifth of all shoppers said they are most willing to rent goods from an electronics store. As the concept of renting goods becomes more common, retailers in different industries can capitalize on this by experimenting with their own sharing services. From home improvement and DIY tools, to baby products, to sports equipment, there are many opportunities in the market – it’s up to businesses to grab them timely.
Ultimately, retailers who can anticipate change and get on board with lasting consumer trends will be the ones who stand the best chance of success. To do this, start by looking at your own customer base and focus on what they want. Once you know this, you can introduce exciting new concepts that marry up with their desires, and in the process refine customer service, personalization and convenience.