5 trends for catering to a new era of retail

We live in a dynamic world, where every industry is affected by emerging trends—nearly constantly. In banking, there’s ongoing disruption. For travel, there’s the move away from hotels and into short-term rentals. For fashion, well, trends are so volatile that the jacket you gave away years ago is now back in style. When it comes to marketing and customer experience in the retail industry, COVID-19 expedited trends that were already underway. 

During my 20 years as a marketer in the retail industry, I’ve seen trends rise and fall, but the pandemic solidified my belief in the staying power of these five retail trends:

1. Data as a natural resource

The consumer data that signals brands to alter strategies based on consumer behavior is one of the most valuable resources we have in today’s retail world. Data must be at the center of our strategies in retail.

To best serve the customer, a popular saying is “the customer is always right.” Well, in the current retail environment, the customer isn’t telling you how they feel directly, instead, they’re showing you through their actions. Listen in and observe.

2. Loyalty, reimagined

It’s now table stakes to have some form of a rewards program. A dollar spent is a point earned; brands looking to make their loyalty program a differentiator, though, must think beyond points for dollars toward redeeming points for discounts.

Think about creative ways to reward your customers. Their behavior could be a good place to start; provide points for reviews, referrals, or special life moments. Think of creative ways for redemption that align with your brand. Instead of discounts on merchandise, what are some experiences you could reward them with? 

3. Marketing in the moment

Marketing in the precise moment of relevancy in the customer’s life is very possible. For example, there’s one huge area of opportunity we believe brands are underutilizing: weather data.

We don’t know how many ads I’ve seen for soup that have to do with feeling unwell. Consumers aren’t only buying soup when they’re sick; they might also buy soup when it’s cloudy or rainy. What about blankets for a cold week, DIY crafts for a stormy day, or bathing suits for a heatwave? There are so many creative ways to use weather data in your marketing program.

4. Connecting communities

The community is really what keeps brands intact. There’s immense value in your customers finding a sense of pride or community through your product or services.

Be bold — start using digital tactics to bolster your sense of community. For example, Sephora has a “look of the day” section of its website where customers can upload a photo of themselves, tag products from Sephora, and other customers can shop based on the photos. Think of the multichannel shopping opportunities brands can find with ideas like this —they should be exploding in popularity.

5. Digital touchpoints

Digital touchpoints along the customer journey must be seamless. If it’s confusing difficult to use any digital service on any device, consumers will likely churn quickly.

One of the most important factors is connecting your data. Don’t let data live in silos. One of the most frustrating customer experiences is receiving a message that contradicts another message. Retailers cannot operate from disparate data libraries for different initiatives.

It’s imperative to adjust your strategy to meet current marketing trends. Be a leader in these digital trends by experimenting, testing, and pivoting as needed.

To go deeper into these marketing trends and gear up for the holiday shopping rush, view our on-demand webinar featuring our partner Catchi. Additionally, keep an eye on our blog for upcoming in-depth content on these topics as part of our “Retail Trends for 2021” series.