Retail Marketing Trends in 2015

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”
George William Curtis’s quote eloquently describes the retail experience moving forward. The physical store is often needed for final purchase, especially for the older generation. However, younger customers are gathering information about a retailer’s products and services via the internet and enjoying a more digital shopping experience.

Malls will have appeal for the old, but it is dwindling for the young. The Baby Boomers are now in their 60s and 70s, but they are still the ones in charge of about 70 percent of disposable income. Therefore, instead of using large discounts to attract the young, smart retailers will keep prices at a more premium level while targeting these Baby Boomers that have the disposable income to buy more upscale items.

That being said, the second major group driving retail, the Millennials, will need mobile accessibility. Speed is an essential factor for this generation as almost anything is just a click away! They are also impatient so there will be a need for EXCELLENT customer service. Since consumers will use 5+ online sources to facilitate actual purchase decisions, there is a reduced reliance on the traditional brick-and-mortars for this younger generation. This means that merchants will need to make sure their websites are user-friendly, responsive in design, and easily found.

Corporate Social Responsibility will also be a HUGE draw. A survey by Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 87 percent of global consumers factor CSR into their purchase decisions. Merchants should launch ethical and good deed initiatives that make customers feel good about where their money is going. Customers do not want their money to go to one person’s pocket but to the betterment of the community and world in which they live.

Along with CSR, localization will be more important than it ever has been. Customization of stores and merchandise to the needs of the local community will find success. This makes customers feel special and more inclined to come in and purchase products that really speak to the specific location and culture. Walmart and Walgreens exemplify this trend by continuously offering Green Bay Packers products in their Green Bay, WI locations to supply the city with green and gold paraphernalia for year-round support of the team.

The most major retailing trend will be the adoption and experimentation with technology. Customers will see this most in the extinction of cash registers as cloud-based point-of-sale systems have proven to outperform those often bulky standalone cash machines. Cloud based point-of-sale systems also take up less space leaving more room for additional merchandise.

How consumers shop and what they expect is changing. The challenge will be catering to two generational segments that are vastly different. With the advancement of many tools and mindsets, retail and its marketing will only continue to evolve and change.