In a retail landscape that changes exponentially, frequently, it’s easy to assume companies are at the mercy of an increasingly tech-driven era. In reality, it’s consumers themselves who are driving this supersonic change. Fueled by six major things that shift consumer behavior, these macro trends across society, technology, industry, environment, politics and creativity will keep you ahead into 2020 and beyond.
Driver 1: The Handheld Revolution
As we move to an always-connected mentality, people are increasingly more comfortable interacting with their devices than face-to-face. Access to product research means that often purchase decisions are made before the consumer enters a brick-and-mortar store. Integrate low-friction and self-service strategies to transition the online to offline journey. Also look to evolve the associate’s role to ensure they're influencing the customer where the purchasing decision is taking place.
Drive 2: The Feel Factor
With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), brands have to be conscious of making sure the human aspect of retail is still present. A disproportionate amount of emphasis has been placed on the personalized over the personal. While frictionless retail strategies are important in many cases, it's shown that more time spent interacting in a store equals larger purchases. Tech and AI, when utilized, should address not just what the consumer wants, but how they feel. Furthermore, it should create experiences that reflect such. Look to technology that helps retailers deepen the human connection with consumers through in-store styling services or more interaction with them.
Driver 3: ‘Trustenomics’
In a swirling cycle of fake news and scandals, it's hard for consumers to know what to trust. As AI emerges, protection of data is the bare minimum for companies. However, consumers are increasingly expecting more of the businesses they purchase from. Another priority is instigating positive change, as the CEO’s role is increasingly expected to shift to include doing good in their respective communities. Both these, plus transparency in the way your company operates and creates product, are pivotal elements of building a meaningful relationship with your customer.
Driver 4: Climate Concerns
As the number of extreme weather events increases, climate anxiety is set to change how and what consumers want to buy. The first signs of this shift are in changing attitudes towards single-use plastics, as well as an emerging interest in second-hand products. While consumers want to change their behaviors, they expects brands to do the heavily lifting for them, creating attractive, sustainable products. In the long term, brands need to look to how they evolve the use of plastic in more sustainable ways, and towards more circular economies.
Driver 5: The Long Generation
As lifespans extend in developed countries and the number of older people increases, there’s a cash-rich demographic that's feeling largely ignored. Retailer and leisure spaces need to rethink their strategies to address their desired customer experiences. While this demographic seeks more human interaction, boomers are largely smartphone users. Therefore, businesses should also look to evolve their mobile experience for this demographic.
Driver 6: Old Days of Ownership
As the experience increasingly becomes a stand-alone product in its own right, retailers need to elevate the brand experience to a point where it can become a revenue driver. While the rise of the Instagram museum has shown there's consumer appetite for such spaces, consumers will expect more going forward. As consumer mind-sets become more serious, focus on selling expertise, on helping the customer create the best version of the lifestyle you’re selling. Sell community, with spaces that gather like-minded consumers to accurately place product to target markets. Sell well-being, as fitness and holistic movements continue to gain traction and wellness stays top of mind for consumers. Finally, sell shared values, proving that your brand is reliable in advocating for community issues it aligns with.