Retail Forecast: The Pursuit of Purpose (Part 1)

retail forecast: the pursuit of purpose (part 1)

The global pandemic has fundamentally altered our lifestyles for good and consequently, the way we shop will be forever changed.

Sounds dramatic right? We suppose it is, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t positivity on the horizon, for brands and retailers alike.

To achieve a more optimistic retail future, the design industry has worked even harder to offer creative-led solutions, setting a roadmap for how we shop in 2022 and beyond.

Throughout our latest retail foresight, we’ll discuss how the value of retail is directly linked to the spaces we frequent, the communities we nurture and the sustainability of products. We define this as a pursuit of purpose – a desire for retail to be intrinsically linked with our lifestyles and experiences.

Over the next two weeks, we'll be revealing the top 3 trends we believe will affect the pursuit of purpose in 2022 and beyond:

TREND 01: THE AGE OF AUTHENTICITY

The customer is always right. Maybe, maybe not. But the concept rings true in terms of brand authenticity. It’s really no secret that over-saturated markets have reduced the level of consumer loyalty, with brands and retailers having to work harder to stand out in the crowd. And if recent times have taught us anything, it’s that authentic ‘people-driven’ brands are the ones capturing our attention. In fact, a report from Ipsos in 2020 found that over 90% of individuals find it important that a brand ‘acknowledges when it’s wrong’ and over 80% want a brand to ‘care about me’.

We can’t pretend that accessibility, discounts and reliability do not play on our mind when making a purchase. However, as we witness a new age of authenticity taking over, brands must realise that they are more than salesman. In fact, they must be an extension of their consumers habits, desires, emotions and lifestyle choices. Co-Founder of the Future Laboratory Martin Raymond, argues that this authenticity is closely linked to what he defines as the ‘five c’s: community, conviviality, collaboration, conscientiousness and cooperation’. Lead by the millennials, and quickly adopted by Gen Z, these five C’s are a realisation that human experiences are centred on the concept of cohesion and connection. We are happier for longer if we take part in experiences together, and far less willing to engage with brands, retailers or products which do not invest in us or connect us to others.

Meaning that for brands to thrive in physical spaces, they must relinquish some of their control to the consumer; building retail spaces which are curated with location, community, demographics and shopping habits in-mind. This inclusion of consumers at the heart of retail design is the foundation for brands to authenticate their presence and grow organically with their surrounding community.

Of course, brands only build this authentic presence by supporting the community, not infiltrating it. This leads us to one of the biggest sub-trends within authenticity: localisation. When chain stores first emerged, their purpose was simple: offer consumers the same products and experience regardless of town, city or country. However, while dependability remains important (and there is something to be said for seemingly always being able to find a H&M abroad), brands have come to realise that understanding and fostering their local community is far more important.

Possibly one of the most elite brands in terms of hyper-localisation is Nike. Debuting their Nike Live concept on Melrose Avenue back in 2018, they’ve since added three new formats to their retail portfolio: Nike Rise, House of Innovation and Nike Unite. Described as a ‘community centrepiece’, these stores are wholly concentrated on reflecting the ‘heart and spirit’ of the local inhabitants. Store design, product selection, digital enhancement through the Nike+ app and in-store experiential moments are all chosen based on the individuality of any location, from Nike Melrose Avenue through to Nike Seoul. Since the introduction of these Nike format stores, brands such as Lululemon and adidas have begun to introduce the concept of localisation in-store.

However, sports retail is not the only industry seeking to resonate authentically with local consumers. In fact, never has authenticity and transparency been more relevant than in the world of beauty and skincare. A brand spawned from authenticity is Beauty Pie. A membership beauty brand dedicated to removing the ‘middle man’ and offering luxury beauty products at ‘warehouse prices’ without the mark-up. Their recent Covent Garden pop-up store allowed shoppers to experience Beauty Pie products straight from the shelves, gain insight into the beauty brands ethos and operations, plus chat with the brands ambassadors to discover new products. Despite originating – and largely remaining – a D2C brand, Beauty Pie recognised the power of physical spaces which bring together a community of avid beauty enthusiasts.

Both the Nike and Beauty Pie concepts have one thing in common: members earn more. Let’s return to the Ipsos study which found that over 80% of people want a brand to care about them. In each Nike format store, Nike+ members receive a dramatically enhanced experience with curbside pick-up, scheduled 1-1 appointments and free gifts. Beauty Pie’s pop-up allowed member’s to receive the same 7% discount on products, as per their membership guarantee. In both cases, the brands highlight a genuine appreciation of their loyal consumers and they elevate this with the concept of localisation; truly focused on community, conviviality and connection.

Out of this engagement with culture, a more powerful and intuitive form of retail story has been born. The age of authenticity is upon us and securing credibility amongst your consumers is vital in 2022 and beyond.

Stay tuned for Trend 02 next week…

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