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Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers



What Will Consumers Look for in 2016?

Posted by Kate Seat on 12/3/15 11:00 PM
Topics: college retail, Marketing to Students

With 2016 fast approaching, now is the time of year when the predictions about the state of things to come will start rolling in. While a major focus will certainly revolve around the growing role of technology in both our daily lives and businesses, there are some less complicated, people-centered trends holding sway as well. See how one blogger predicts that these relationship-focused trends will apply to retail in the following excerpt (and be sure to also check out her complete post on LinkedIn).

While the specific needs and wants of a retailer’s customers vary from one merchant to the next, we’re seeing some general trends and behaviors that seem to apply to a lot of consumers these days.

Shoppers want products and services that support their health and well-being

Consumers are increasingly health conscious. For this reason, stores promoting healthy living (such as Whole Foods) are thriving, while fast food chains such as McDonald's are seeing declining profits.

Consumers’ desire to be more healthy can also be seen in the products that they’re buying (or seeking).

Case in point: UK retailer John Lewis has found Nutribullet (aka “the world’s most powerful nutrient extractor”) to be the top technology item on people’s wish lists. According to The Telegraph, Nutribullet is “closely followed by Spiralizers, which turn vegetables such as courgettes into spaghetti-like strands and are endorsed by clean eating chefs like Hemsley & Hemsley and Ella Woodward.”

Sales for Fitbit fitness devices and sports equipment increased 240 percent and 11 percent respectively from last year.

Clearly, today’s consumers want to live healthier lives. That's why if it makes sense for your business, incorporate health and well-being into your offerings in any way you can. Are there any new products you can start carrying? Perhaps you could look into health initiatives for your customers. Do your research, test out concepts, and see what works.

They want businesses to be more transparent

Shoppers are calling for more transparency, and they tend to trust retailers who are open about (and proud of) their business practices.

A great example of this trend in action is demonstrated by apparel retailer Everlane. The company shares detailed information about the factories they do business with, so customers know that their products are sourced from ethical suppliers.

Not every company will be comfortable with this level of transparency, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be transparent in other ways. A lot of merchants are now sharing “behind the scenes” info with customers, while others are giving people more information on how their products are sourced. These actions help companies build trust and connect better with shoppers.


Consumers want brands to be more human

Yes, robots, automation, and IoT are all hot right now, but these trends won’t replace real people anytime soon. This is especially true in offline retail, where shoppers crave face-to-face interactions with store staff.

A growing number of retailers have realized this and have taken steps to make their stores more human-centric. CVS, for example, recently removed self-checkout stations at some of its stores, based on feedback and evaluation of its locations. Two years ago, Costco did something similar and got rid of self-checkout counters, stating that humans simply did a better job.

Do note that being more human isn’t just about customer interactions with real people; it can apply to the public relations voice of your company as well. Strive to build a brand that shoppers can relate to. We see this all the time when companies ditch “corporate speak,” instead talking to customers in their vernacular and via channels that they use in their daily life (e.g. social sites and apps like Twitter and Snapchat).

The move to being more human can also be seen when brands embrace authenticity and imperfections. Have you noticed that a growing number of retailers are ditching Photoshopped ads and using fonts that appear handwritten? It’s because they want to relate better to their audience.

They want services and experiences

Retailers are increasingly adding services and events in-store. Why? Because many consumers (especially those shopping offline) are looking to buy more than just “stuff.” They want experiences that they can’t find online or on their phones.

Because of this, we’re seeing retailers that are adding services, events, and experiences in-store. Craft store, Michael’s, for example, is offering “artsy” classes on-site, with subjects such as jewelry making, knitting, and more.

How will you apply these trends in your store? Let us know in the comments!

About Kate Seat

Kate Seat is a former copywriter at MBS. When away from work, she’s either creating one-of-a-kind art dolls, reading or watching way too much tv with her husband, daughter and an irritable chinchilla named Klaus.

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