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Who is qualified?

shopping,bagPreviously I have quoted from What’s Next. Richard Watson is extremely talented in predicting the future.

His top 10 trends in retail, shopping, and leisure in 2006 or thereabouts were as follows:

1. Self serve

He put an interesting spin on this, including self check in at airports and at hotels. Also the self scanning machines we are now using at Woolworths or Bunnings. He reckoned that there would be a boom in very intelligent vending machines and robotics.

2. Cost Polarisation

I wrote a piece on this a few weeks ago, and while I disagree that mid-price retailers will disappear, several points are very valid e.g. many of us buy top end and bottom end merchandise.

3. Blurring of sectors

This relates to stretching a brand. It has been happening overseas for years and is now on the increase here with supermarket chains selling insurance and the like.

4. High speed retail

People now sleep for about seven hours and 100 years ago they slept for nine hours.

This is partly what is driving on line and killing shopping centres. As the comedian, Steve Wright said: Who has time for 24 hour banking?

5. Brand experience

Some people have just about all they need in the way of material things and they are therefore looking for experiences. Hence, stationers selling hot air balloon lessons.


We have seen the growth in this predicted several years ago and some folk now have chips embedded in their hands to access their office building and pay for goods. The surge will continue.

7. Brand politics

This continues to develop with consumers wanting to know more about the products they are buying. Country of origin of foodstuffs especially. Take the recent example of Nanna’s frozen mixed berries contaminated with Hepatitis A.

8. Generational turnover

Someone turns 50 every eight seconds in the States. The old target market notion has been replaced with a target market of one i.e technology helps us to target individuals nowadays. Despite this the old target market concept will live on. How many times have you heard that a retailer targets women from 18 to 35 ?

9. Women

They apparently buy 65 per cent of cars and make 81 per cent of financial decisions. Are male retailers aware of this?

10. Mass customisation

Take a look at You can design your own shirt down to the finest detail and have it expertly made at a reasonable price delivered quickly.

Does any of this sound familiar? Remember this article was written eight or nine years ago. The above trends were succinctly put and by and large have proven to be correct. They act as a recap on things that have happened and are happening right now.

Now please glance here.

This is a 32 page IBM Retail Solutions Guide providing the “latest retail imperatives for 2015”. It is hot off the press. Look at page seven especially. And try page 16. This document produced in the US last month must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you get past page 16 without nodding off, you are doing well.

It is deadly boring and smacks of under graduates writing part of their thesis. As with many of the big consulting firms (incidentally and we don’t compete with them) their retail experts have questionable retail experience. Google any of the big firm’s retail experts and see whether they have any retail experience whatsoever. What I mean by retail experience is at the pit face.

Richard Watson probably hasn’t any either, but he writes a good story on the future of money, the future of newspapers, the future of travel and so the list goes on.

And surprise, surprise – he consults to IBM.

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at or 0414 631 702.

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