In a previous post New Retail Ladscape Starts to Emerge, we talked about how retailers and brands might consider responding to future shifts in consumer behaviour as we start to come out of the recession. We’ve seen some great examples of brands borrowing from social online networking behaviours, and acting not as mass-producers; hard-selling their products, but as facilitators for customers. We love the concept at kids online retailer, Kaboodle, who have provided their customers with a direct line to Santa with an online wishlist service. Not only can they ‘friend’ Santa; they can share their wishlists with family and friends and request gifts from literally anyrwhere online.
Web retailers have only just begun to scratch the surface of combining selling with social connections and user-curation.
At the moment we’re researching future consumer behaviours that we think will impact design trends for Spring Summer 2011, when we expect we’ll really start to feel like we’re coming out of the recession. We expect the retail landscape and shopping experience as we know it to have transformed somewhat, and in some instances be radically different from the pre-recession mass-consumerism. This will be a selling environment where the customer (the word consumer will sound so outdated and inacurate by 2011; this term will seem insulting, passive, wasteful, decisionless) will genuinely drive the market, make demands of brands and request or decline relationships with brands.
We’ve been reading a lot about VPI, volunteered personal information; where individuals will offer up information about future purchases they wish to make, and invite companies to pitch for their business. So if you want a new car next spring, you would share this information (social networking sites are ripe for this type of development) and tell brands you’re looking for a new family car, next March, for a specified price, and then invite the automotive brands you like to pitch you their best offer. Customer really is king in this scenario. This new way of buying has the power to turn the system on it’s head, it would eliminate the need for advertising as we know it, and would transform the roles of salespeople to relationship managers within an organisation. The concept of brands hard-selling goods to consumers, and customers passively consuming just seems so old-fashioned all of a sudden.
As with all future trends, the beginnings of the ‘next big thing’ are already here, there are little clues in the way society operates, the way taste evolves, the dissatisfactions with how things are currently done, that provide us with insights into how new needs will be met. We’ve seen some great examples of temporary retail environments like mobile stores and ‘pop-up’ restaurants and shops, and some clever mechanisms for selling online, but what does this mean for traditional retail environments? How will the big retailers begin to engage with us again? We’ve found a few examples of trends emerging which we’ll share with you over the coming weeks. We thought the concept of time-limited discounting was an interesting one to start us off…
Japanese trend scouts C Scout recently reported a new retail phenomenon spotted at the Shibuya 109 teen shopping complex where ‘time sales’ have become popular. For 10 or 20 minute periods, certain items are offered at knocked-down prices so that shoppers can take advantage of bargains. To draw attention to the special offers, staff hold up signs or shout (with a megaphone!), luring shoppers away from other stores. This is just one example of the new retail landscape that’s starting to emerge as we move out of the recession. Please share your thoughts with us- what do you think the future of retail looks like as we think about emerging from the recession?