13 Hot Trends for 2013

VM&RD - - COLUMN - By Ken Nisch There are many trends - prac­ti­cal, psy­cho­graphic, and at­ti­tu­di­nal - that are in­cu­bat­ing dur­ing this re­tail “re­boot” tak­ing place in the U.S. econ­omy. This re­boot is af­fect­ing all types and sizes of re­tail, brick-and-mor­tar and on­line. The key

1. Cheap and Cheer­ful

Some trends are con­sumer fo­cused. From lip­stick and nail pol­ish (the orig­i­nal “cheap and cheer­ful” cues in the new econ­omy), to home dé­cor items and can­dles. Items that are cheap and cheer­ful will make the con­sumer happy, pleased that she is tak­ing home some­thing fresh and new. And re­mem­ber, in­ex­pen­sive sea­sonal rein­ven­tion can breathe an air of fresh­ness into any con­sumer’s home (and your en­vi­ron­ment too).

2. Per­sonal Eman­ci­pa­tion

One of the big­gest trends has been termed “per­sonal eman­ci­pa­tion.” Think of sep­a­rates in the fash­ion world, in­ter­est in per­son­al­iza­tion and cus­tomiza­tion, and even though a will­ing­ness to be “cast as the out­cast” seems

to be all part of this new con­sumer psychology.

3. Mix-and-Match Mer­chan­dis­ing

This might man­i­fest it­self in many ways. It can come across in mer­chan­dis­ing and as­sort­ment, with the will­ing­ness and ex­pec­ta­tion of the cus­tomer to be in­no­va­tive and low cost at the same time, while jux­ta­posed against the lux­u­ri­ous and the ex­clu­sive. Trans­lat­ing this trend into the re­tail en­vi­ron­ment and find­ing bal­ance is one part aes­thet­ics, one part hu­mor, and third part clev­er­ness. Think rub­ber bracelets and Jimmy Choo.

4. Flash Sales

Stores are be­gin­ning to see their re­tail en­vi­ron­ments not in terms of decades, or even years; but to­day in many cases, it is con­sid­ered

in terms of days, or even hours. The flash sale has got­ten con­sumers to think in a much more nim­ble way, and like­wise they seem less phased to­day than ever in the “here to­day, gone to­mor­row” light-foot­ed­ness of the pop-up store with brands, lab stores, and re­tail ex­per­i­ments where the guinea pig may as well be the re­tailer as it is the con­sumer.

5. Tech­nol­ogy

The abil­ity to find re­sources that are “big enough to serve you,” yet “small enough to know you” is key to ex­e­cut­ing this new face of re­tail. While the out­come is ca­sual, the ac­tiv­i­ties, in­put, and re­sources it takes to “ap­pear” ca­sual should not be un­der­es­ti­mated. In the U.S., Nord­strom, Best Buy and oth­ers have pub­licly laid out am­bi­tious goals to elim­i­nate the con­ven­tional check­out, cash­wrap, and even in some cases the sales as­so­ciate, by putting more of the ac­ces­si­bil­ity to tech­nol­ogy ei­ther in the hands of the con­sumer, or in prox­im­ity to the point-of-pur­chase. Rather than see­ing dig­i­tal as a threat to brick-and-mor­tar, to­day’s re­tailer should em­brace this and see it as a way of ex­tend­ing this proven pur­chase op­ti­miza­tion through mul­ti­chan­nel.

6. Evolv­ing Sales Op­por­tu­ni­ties

With the free­dom of mo­bile check­outs, sales as­so­ciate can now do what they do best: Help the Con­sumer. Much of this change is tak­ing place around mo­bile apps, but other tech­nolo­gies such as tablets and other types of dig­i­tal in­ter­face en­hance the ef­fi­ciency of the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, while ex­pand­ing the di­ver­sity op­tions to the con­sumer, be­com­ing the per­fect mar­riage be­tween brick-and­mor­tar and dig­i­tal.

7. Re­think­ing En­vi­ron­ments

The cash­wrap has been ubiq­ui­tous in re­tail as both a brand­ing point and as a stop on the con­sumer’s path. But the rapid spread of roam­ing digi­tial check­outs has cre­ated a re­think and is in­creas­ingly chang­ing the con­sumer’s view of “ex­pe­ri­ence.”

8. Cre­ative “Sticky” Space

What should a re­tailer do with the space that is freed up by re­mov­ing the cash­wrap and some of the other op­er­a­tional bar­ri­ers that ex­ist in tra­di­tional stores? Cre­ate a space that in­vites the cus­tomer to linger and so­cially in­ter­act. De­sign a “sticky” model that en­gages con­sumers to see the re­tail space as just not a trans­ac­tion space, but as a “third place” where they stick around longer. Th­ese “sticky” spa­ces - com­fort­able, en­gag­ing, and brand-right - act as silent, but ef­fec­tive ways to re­in­force the re­tail brand im­age, to en­gage in a con­sumer con­ver­sa­tion, and in­tro­duce them to new ideas, ser­vices and prod­ucts.

9. Per­ma­nent-Tem­po­rary Spa­ces

Con­sider cre­at­ing per­ma­nent tem­po­rary space within your store. The brand halo of invit­ing key in­flu­encers within your con­sumer’s world is a way of cre­at­ing buzz and new­ness within an ex­ist­ing mer­chan­dise range. Th­ese “in­flu­encers” might be a highly vis­i­ble neigh­bor­ing re­tailer, a brand or an au­thor. A fa­mous Paris de­part­ment store does this on a monthly ba­sis, invit­ing high pro­file celebri­ties of var­i­ous walks of life: sport, fash­ion, art, lit­er­a­ture; and then asks them to find and gather their “fa­vorite things” from the store and then or­ga­nize those into a mini de­part­ment. This ap­proach pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for sto­ry­telling and ways to con­nect and iden­tify with the per­son­al­i­ties or muse of this in­ter­nal pop-up.

10. Com­mu­nity Spirit

Make a dif­fer­ence in your com­mu­nity. Cer­tain cat­e­gories of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for emo­tional trig­gers; chil­dren, ed­u­ca­tion, pets are all uni­ver­sal topics around which to con­nect your brand, your store, and your con­sumers. The place pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by the cash­wrap pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a shared in­ter­est be­tween re­tailer and con­sumer; of­fers a way to give back to the com­mu­nity re­lated to the causes im­por­tant to them.

11. Sto­ry­telling

The il­lus­tra­tion of cre­ativ­ity and self ex­pres­sion can be shaped through sto­ry­telling. You can­not help but visit a re­tail street in the U.S., or a shop­ping cen­ter to­day with­out be­ing drawn to re­tail­ers like An­thro­polo­gie whose dis­plays and sea­sonal pre­sen­ta­tions ex­tend be­yond the realm of “win­dow dress­ing” and into the role of “pub­lic art.” Con­nect emo­tion­ally with the con­sumer and as well, en­rich, add, and in­spire her to think be­yond the ob­vi­ous. The tools and the props that are part of this bour­geon­ing ex­plo­sion of re­tail cre­ativ­ity are of­ten or­di­nary, but their use is ex­hib­ited in ex­tra­or­di­nary ways.

12. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion

In the end, ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs to sell things, but first the brand needs to win hearts and to some de­gree, minds, into a di­a­logue be­fore the sell­ing be­gins. The trend around vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing is pro­vid­ing an un­ex­pected and imag­i­na­tive “kit of parts.” Man­nequins, forms, and mir­rors to “pop­u­late” vis­ual is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant. The imbed­ding of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy can range from retro to high-tech, to even retrotech, where the re­pur­pos­ing of ma­te­ri­als -- whether for rep­e­ti­tion, color block­ing and sto­ry­telling -- are be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant part of a suc­cess­ful re­tailer’s ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion ini­tia­tive.

13. Success through Ac­tion

T hi nk r eboot, un­ex­pected, power to the con­sumer - be it in un­der­stand­ing, dis­cov­er­ing and trans­act­ing. Act on trends that ad­dress the con­sumer’s need for irony, hu­mor, ad­vo­cacy, in­de­pen­dence, while rec­og­niz­ing their per­sonal eman­ci­pa­tion not only around the com­mer­cial re­tail as­pects of their life, but as well, health, ed­u­ca­tion, travel and cre­ativ­ity. Don’t for­get the im­por­tance of per­son­al­iza­tion and cus­tomiza­tion, and the grow­ing trend to­ward “ying and yang” all un­der the same roof, within the same shop­ping bag, and within the mind and the heart of the con­sumer. Re­mem­ber, there is no success with­out ac­tion! Ken­neth Nisch is chair­man of JGA, a re­tail de­sign and brand strat­egy firm in Southfield, Michi­gan. Nisch ap­plies his knowl­edge and en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­sight to cre­ate con­cept and pro­to­type devel­op­ment and brand im­age po­si­tion­ing. JGA’s clients in­clude Parx (In­dia), Fan­tasy World (Kuwait), Ca­cau Show (Brazil), Her­shey’s, Whole Foods Mar­ket, Mu­seum of Arts and De­sign, McCormick World of Fla­vors, Des­ti­na­tion XL, Sleep Num­ber and Ver­i­zon. Ken may be reached at 248.355.0890 or info@jga.com. For morei nfor­ma­tion, visit www.JGA.com.

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