The retail industry has witnessed a seismic shift as of late, with the emergence of direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) brands, an increasingly saturated market with a flood of new options in every vertical, and the ever-lingering dominance of Amazon.com and other e-commerce giants. Therefore, it’s no surprise that brands have had to drastically shift their strategies to not only hold onto customers, but also make sure they’re still tapping a new market of prospects.
In the new decade, retailers are going to need to adapt quickly to compete. So, what can brands be doing now to catch the eye of consumers and ensure they’re top of mind this year?
In a new report, global real world intelligence company Blis analyzed the current state of the nation in retail to help brands understand where the industry is headed and how they can break through. The findings revealed which brands are winning the retail wars, which categories are thriving, and how retailers can retain and gain new customers.
What Categories and Brands Are Thriving in Retail Today?
Despite talk of the death of brick-and-mortar, there are physical retailers that continues to find success in the U.S. The report found that sporting goods retailers lead in the U.S. for in-store foot traffic, with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Modell’s at the front of the pack. In fact, more than one-third of the country’s shopping activities happen in sport stores (34 percent), followed by “casual” at 21 percent.
With the rise of athleisure wear and a variety of workout options for seemingly every individual, the appetite for sporting goods stores was reflected in a strong earnings season for Dick’s. The company witnessed double-digit revenue growth in Q2 2019. With additional offerings including electronics, travel equipment, and athletic gear, Dick’s has rebranded itself as more than just a sports store — and the move is paying off. Coupled with a seamless omnichannel strategy that leverages e-commerce to drive in-store sales, Dick's has found a way to stay top of mind in a crowded market that includes retailers with fiercely loyal customer bases such as lululemon and Athleta.
Other categories rounding out the top 10 retailers in the U.S. for foot traffic and market share include a mix of fast fashion (e.g., H&M), discount stores (e.g., Marshalls), and specialty retailers (e.g., Victoria’s Secret). If they want to continue to stay ahead in their categories, these retailers will need to find a way to break through the noise with innovative in-store strategies that take a cue from digitally savvy brands in their industry.
What Can the Biggest States Tell Us About Today’s Shopper?
The study found that nine U.S. states hold 52 percent of in-store shopping visits, including New York, Texas, California, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Georgia and Massachusetts, all of which are among the largest in the country or the most densely populated. What’s interesting is that among the three most active shopping states — New York, Texas and California — sporting goods stores are, again, among the top three retail categories in the region.
Modell’s and Dick’s continue to find a home in New York shoppers’ hearts, Academy Sports + Outdoors lands in the top three shopping destinations for Texans, and Californians flock to Big 5 Sporting Goods as the top retailer. Many of these top brands have found success by ensuring steady mobile activity to maintain consumer interest — no matter where they are. And with added location intelligence, these brands can drive in-store traffic from consumers’ real-world browsing and capitalize on their physical experiences.
What Does This Mean for the State of Retail Today?
Marketers will increasingly need a deeper knowledge of not just what their customers buy from their own brands, but where else they’re shopping and what they might need next. This requires a heightened level of real-world insights that go beyond the transactional and historical data retailers have traditionally relied on that analyzes individuals coming in and out of their stores.
If brands want to take market share from the competition, one strategy is to go where their consumers are. According to the findings, if Nike wants to reach lululemon shoppers, it will need to target yoga studios and farmer's markets, where we see the highest concentration of that market.
Despite a crowded retail landscape, having this deep knowledge on where consumers have been can help brands predict where they’re going and better understand the competition. With real-life insights on competitive consumer behavior, brands can better target consumers to gain relevance and share-of-mind with today’s overwhelmed shopper.
Mariana Fletcher is the Insights Manager, Americas at Blis, a specialist in understanding real, human behavior by analyzing vast quantities of mobile location data to give clients the truth about what people actually do.