Retail Marketing Essentials for 2015
2014 saw incredible changes in retail. It was a year of online stores expanding to brick-and-mortar; hyper-personalized customer service; Black Friday backlash, and big box stores rethinking their strategy. The way people shop continued to evolve, creating challenges for slow-moving retail brands, and huge opportunities for those that could anticipate and respond with agility and imagination.
It’s been a customer-centric year in retail, and 2015 promises more of the same. Retail marketers are facing The Year of Total Shopper Experience. (Cue horn fanfare.)
There is momentum behind the revitalized, redefined concept of shopper engagement. Five directives, powerful in 2014, will continue to dominate retail marketing over the coming 12 months.
Be disruptive. Once solely the providence of tech marketing, the idea of disruption has found its way to the sales floor. Retail disruption means giving customers what they don’t expect (and don’t yet realize they need). Good retail disruption delights and provokes, like unconventional displays, counterintuitive-yet-ideal brand partnerships, or even bold product delivery options (I’m looking at you, drones). By blowing up the status quo, retail marketers can offer engagement to shoppers in completely fresh ways, delighting them into seeing a brand in a new light.
Pop-up with purpose. The idea of the pop-up is not new, but 2014 saw revitalized energy and creativity around temporary retail. In the coming year, smart retail marketers will make pop-up a fully integrated part of the marketing mix. But it’s important that they take the broadest view possible of pop-up, and think beyond “surprise store” to “connective brand experience.” Next-generation pop-up works hard, blending discovery, interaction, curation and conversation in a way that moves product and builds loyalty.
Get intimate. The shopper’s desire for a personalized retail experience hit an apex in 2014. Expect it to grow even larger in the year ahead, but with a twist. Personalization is becoming synonymous with intimacy. Shoppers continue to want retailers to know who they are and what they want. But now they seek a deeper relationship, connecting with brands that anticipate their needs, understand their lifestyles, offer suggestions and make them feel like an appreciated individual through engagement. The challenge for marketers here is that while a customer wants to be known by the retailer, she doesn’t want to give out too much information. Balancing shopper privacy with the ability to be intimate will be a critical job for retail marketers moving forward.
Create a destination. People don’t just “go shopping” anymore. We learned in 2014 that, along with quality merchandise and impeccable service, customers seek adventure, diversion, inspiration and entertainment. Today, creating a retail destination means thinking beyond what’s on the shelves; it’s about what’s in the air. Excitement at discovering an interactive demonstration; appreciation for a quiet seating nook; amusement at a display that seems to defy gravity; joy at discovering a “just for me” boutique hidden in plain sight on the sales floor – the common denominator is emotional connection and the result is a destination.
Embrace omnichannel. Once a retail industry buzzword, this integrative, long-view, customer-centric approach to marketing should now be the starting point and guiding light of any retail marketing plan. Understanding how marketing program elements support and further one another is critical to efficiency and strong message delivery. Today, there must be consistency across all on- and offline activities; visual style, tone of voice, color palette and brand positioning should match across marketing platforms and customer touch points.