The retail marketing business is ever-evolving. For 2016, we predicted a continuation of the incremental but meaningful changes in the practice of retail marketing, identifying conversion, Big Data, and a redefined shopper experience as areas to watch.
In early 2016, it had never before been more appropriate to view retail marketing as an art and a science. We saw important shifts in all facets of the discipline; shopper marketers blending emotion with encryption, and ardor with analytics. Advanced technology and shopper empowerment were driving unprecedented change, and the shopper experience was honed into the shopper moment.
What worked for retailers ten years ago seems positively archaic now. Sales-driving tactics from just five years past feel disjointed and oddly detached from the shopper. Even what we saw happening a mere six months ago has advanced.
In our 2016 retail marketing forecast, we spoke of the continued growth of smartphone ownership and the need for retailers to explore enhanced mobile shopper interaction. The numbers have now reached the saturation point in many markets. In North America, 65 percent of consumers own a smartphone. In Europe, that number jumps to 74 percent. In China, the figure is 72 percent, according to Carolina Milanesi, Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Mobile growth should no longer be considered a trend; it’s a reality.
We also predicted a rise in the number of shoppers who would change their views about privacy and become more willing to share information about themselves. According to a recent survey by Horizon Media, nearly three in four people have security concerns about using beacon technology on their mobile devices, but despite that, six in ten will still share personal information for the right rewards and deals.
More and more, we are seeing retailers shift from touting privacy guarantees to providing shopper interactions that are meaningful and valuable—and “worth it.” Today, a majority of consumers are willing to sacrifice some of their privacy when they believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
|So what retail marketing trends are emerging as we move into the second half of 2016?|
|MOMENTS MATTER MORE
The concept of the shopper experience is waning. We have entered the era of the shopper moment—a unique, emotion-based and personalized sharing between retailer and shopper. The internet has made shopping faster and simpler, but the consumer still craves authentic “hands-on” moments and intimate ways to connect with brands they love. A store has to be much more than a place to acquire merchandise. It has to help people enrich their lives. Moments do that.
Channel blurring—or omnichannel as is used to be called – is about encouraging consumers to participate in different retail channels sequentially and simultaneously as they move from browsing to buying. Meaningful shopper moments can and should take place at every step along that path.
Shoppers love holidays and holiday promotions. So why limit them to just those found on the calendar? Retailers should invent and celebrate new commemorations as a way to drive sales and increase customer acquisition. Some already have, reaping great rewards and seeing substantial increases in sales and customer acquisition. Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce company, logged a record $14.3 billion in sales on Singles’ Day, a Valentine’s Day-inspired holiday they created targeting singles. Major retailers have the clout and customer loyalty to create their own celebratory sales events, and should be exploring this opportunity aggressively.
|LIKE & BUY
For years, marketers have leveraged social media as an awareness and engagement tool. But innovations from the major social networks have recently set the stage for a massive increase in the quantity of items purchased directly in social environments. Get ready for social shopping to explode.
Social networks are adding Buy buttons, which allow users to shop directly on their sites. While adoption has been slow until now, the saturation of mobile is advancing this trend. Functionally, it’s difficult to toggle between apps on a device. So the ability to shop directly inside the social app already in use is likely to be an enticing one for shoppers and retailers.
|POP-UP & POP BIG
With the instant gratification of social media and the exhilaration of temporary social experiences (such as Snapchat), a pop-up is more relevant and shopper-attracting than ever before. In this environment, the goal for retailers is to connect quickly and powerfully with shoppers, and then leave them wanting just a bit more.
Pop-ups can help brands make that connection. But the bar has been raised, and the pop-up concept is no longer the sole domain of the retailer. Hospitality, travel, and lifestyle brands have unveiled some incredible pop-ups over the past several months. They are the competition. Retailers must push the boundaries of design and experience to create genuine destinations—must-see, buzzworthy, media-engaging, ownable moments that fully immerse shoppers in the brand.