Consumer behavior continues to change – FAST! The lightning speed of digitization and consumers’ desire for ‘phygital’ experiences are not only changing how, but also why and when consumers are buying.
Retail itself is adapting faster than ever – from innovative technologies that enable consumers to connect with brands in new ways, to the industry moving towards more circular ways of operating. Changes happening across products, consumer engagement and experiences are shifting at fast-pace. Together with consumers, brands are redefining retail, and key shifts that stand out in gaining relevance among a younger generation of consumers are:
1. A new-found freedom
Back to a new-normal, or actually, never-normal life; consumers are buying products that make them look and feel good. They want to know the brands they buy from, share their same values. On the other side, to keep consumers engaged, brands need to present innovative forward-looking collections – while considering sustainability and I&D at front and center. Not only transparency, but also product and brand’s values, are increasingly important in building consumer trust that leads to meaningful relationships.
2. Consumer Wonderland
Consumers are seeking unique and personalized shopping experiences that excites them – from in-store VR experiences, to using WhatsApp, to many more. Brands that invest in innovative interactions will be truly disruptive and in turn, have the opportunity to build deeper relationships that lead to loyalty. Convenience is also a big desire – think check-out free stores and autonomous delivery. The possibilities are endless: from consumers sending digital avatars to physical stores, to virtual assistants showcasing new products in consumers’ homes. Direct interactions and first-party data will allow brands to better understand and respond to consumers’ needs.
3. Gaming is the new-normal
The shift towards ‘phygital’ experiences continues to push retail further away from traditional ways of shopping. The fast-expanding gaming industry has the potential to change radically ways the new generation shop and interact. Gaming is now on its way to becoming ‘the next social media’ – an immersive environment where people consume entertainment, shop and interact with friends and brands. Set to become an important revenue stream, millions of people are connecting and shopping through the world of gaming, on their mobiles, via the cloud and through VR. Brands have an unmissable opportunity to partner with this revolutionary industry and create unique experiences for key consumer groups – particularly Gen Z and Millennials.
A future beyond possibilities
Only by merging digital innovation to a consumer-led mindset, brands will be able to provide transparency, convenience and digital-first experiences. To continue engaging the new generation, retail needs to meet them on their terms. This involves brands implementing data-driven ways to tap into consumers’ habits – anticipating their needs and creating new and exciting ways to engage. While there is no rule book to follow, it critical that we future-proof our brands on new levels, alongside creating high-quality, personalized, more-sustainable products. It's about bringing a unique experience that connects the brand to consumers while driving conversion.
Looking at all changes we continue to navigate and how the industry is working through them, I wonder: Are we in the midst of redefining retail and consumer experiences beyond anyone thought possible? There is no definite answer, as behaviors continue to change, it is crucial brands stay flexible and agile; keep bringing unique sparks that excite young consumers – shifting courses as fast as they do, or, ideally, even faster.
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