Retail Engagement Trends

With smart shoppers, smartphones, new smart devices and a rising shift in generational behaviors, are you ready for this next generation? Check out “The  “Age of Context,” a powerful book written in 2013 by the authors of “Naked Conversations." They note five forces driving us from the information age to the age of context:  data, mobile, sensors, location-based technology and social.  All contribute to a new personalized society where our devices know us better than our friends.   

Further, retail engagement is changing. Note the following trends, which will be a driving force in how we shift our strategies both for brands and technically:

Malls are for old people — but ones with money!  The boomer generation is getting older but still owns the wallet, with over 70% of disposable income.  Smart retailers will target boomers with premium goods and prices, versus trying to lure Millennials with huge discounts.  They will opt for premium price strategies — combined  with social good initiatives to draw foot traffic.  



Everything will need to be mobile-accessible:  the Web experience, the app experience, the in-store experience and of course the email experience.  The need to be immediate will trump all other creative tactics.  

Social responsibility will drive brand loyalty.  It’s not enough to buy into fashion or emotional bonds to brands through celebrities and models.  The sustaining connection to brands will be augmented by visible efforts to affect the greater good.  A survey by Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 87% of consumers factor consumer social responsibility into their purchase decisions.  Brands will need to launch ethical and good deed initiatives to make their customers feel better about where they are spending their money.  It’s a visibly social-conscious world.

Local is the new norm.   While the Internet is making the world bigger, it is also making it smaller, as retailers are forced to deliver customization in local markets.  The need to localize experiences will be personified through mobile services that connect local buying experiences and local in-market customization of products and services.  Companies like Walmart and Walgreens do this well, customizing products in-market to appeal to locally conscious shoppers.  Trying to mass product for local will be the segmentation and personalization scale challenge for most retailers.

Experimentation with new technologies will be at its highest.   Cloud based-POS will dominate the shopping experience and bring about a new generation of experimentation at the register level.   Owning this POS experience and delivering value during and shortly after a purchase will be a catalyst to recommendations, referrals, and customer satisfaction.   

Subscription vs. products.   Typical product retailers will be testing and embracing subscription models much as Amazon does today.  Will this take over the fashion industry?  Too soon to tell, but this model will press more on contextual marketing principles.

Trends and predictions always me think of Confucius:   “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach people.” What is the seed you’ll plant this year?

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