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Top five trends for 2014


shoppingAs we move away from the craziness of post-Christmas sales, it’s time to think about how retailers should best engage this year.

Shoppers are getting savvier, and they’re interacting with a more diversified range of shopping channels.

Here’s my top five shopper trends that retailers should adopt in 2014.

Trend 1: Year of the value seeker

Shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy about their needs, product availability, and conducting price comparisons.

They know where to find the best value and it isn’t always about price. They also highly regard product quality and customer service.

Households continue to struggle, but they’re also getting savvier. Retailers must present value to shoppers via price, product quality, provenance, and ethics.

We call this the ‘value of values’ and it will be a big talking point in 2014.

Retailers need to be as savvy as their shoppers and provide a shopping experience that does the work for them instore.

For example, UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, has developed a Brand Match scheme that automatically checks a shopper’s basket value versus competitors, and provides a coupon if there is a difference.

Trend 2: Product individualisation

Shoppers want to feel special and in this price competitive environment they will pay a premium for the ability to customise or buy something slightly more unique.

Mass customisation of made to order products is feasible with new technologies and advanced efficiencies in logistics and manufacturing.

Brands like Nike, Shoes of Prey, Coca-Cola, and Motorola are leading this trend by providing different levels of product personalisation.

Shoes of Prey's product.
Shoes of Prey’s product.

Engraving and other bespoke attributes (colour, size, and features) allow retailers to charge a premium and create differentiation.

There is a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes to carve out a market niche while adding value to existing products through customisation.

As Coca-Cola’s Share A Coke campaign showed, products don’t necessarily have to be ‘made to order’ or fully customised to be personal to the shopper. 

Trend 3: Rethinking instore experiences

As retailers strive to differentiate and compete on the high street and online, the experience that shoppers receive instore is highly important.

Customers want to enjoy their shopping time, be entertained, and interact with knowledgeable and motivated staff. These experiences are key to encouraging them to continue to visit bricks and mortar stores. 

Coles’ cafe in its new concept.

A great example is the new Coles flagship developments, which deliver a state of the art customer experience.

This year will bring a marked rise in stores creating holistic shopping experiences focused on customer service to differentiate and increase loyalty.

Trend 4: Seamless shopper experiences

Retailers have lost the ability to control the shopper’s path to purchase because shoppers can now choose their own path, channels, and locations. 

This year will see even more focus on facilitating a seamless shopper experience through all available portals to meet new customer demands.

Omni-channel retail, or linking your bricks and mortar store to your online store and mobile website, is critical in 2014. 

The design, messaging, pricing structure, and product categorisation should all be consistent.

Retailers should ensure there are no gaps in their multi-channel offering, and that they use an evidence-led, research-based approach to design and development.

Be agile and iterate and adapt to the changing consumer market by providing better service, incentives, and rewards.

Trend 5: Content rich communications

The shopping experience itself can also be personalised to better engage shoppers across all channels.

Use multimedia to make the shopping experience more engaging. This will extend a content rich experiences beyond the web to your bricks and mortar store. 

For instance, try using new technologies like Apple’s iBeacon (a new retail tracking technology for shoppers) or Facebook wi-fi (trading a check in to the retailer’s Facebook page for free wi-fi).

Others may opt for more familiar social media cues, such as Pinterest, as seen by Target’s ‘Top Pinned on Pinterest’ shelf talkers in the US.

Target US' 'Awesome Shop' venture
Target US’ ‘Awesome Shop’ Pinterest venture

Smart retailers will find new ways to differentiate, and personalise instore and online shopping experiences.

New technologies can help target instore shoppers with relevant messaging, and online presents even greater opportunities for personalised content.

Peter Firth is a director at shopper insights agency, TNS Global. He advises on growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching, and stakeholder management.

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