Retail Marketing in 2015
I’m waiting for a ball to drop.
Let me rephrase. Thousands of celebrants, including myself, are eagerly waiting for midnight, when the Waterford Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball (fashioned from 2,688 crystal triangles) is lowered to herald the arrival of 2016.
The New Year’s Eve countdown is a worldwide, iconic event. Collectively, we mark the final seconds of the year, symbolically ushering out the old and welcoming the new. The countdown is a bridge between the moments that were and the moments to come; it’s a review and a promise.
So, let’s review retail marketing in 2015 with a countdown. (It’s BYOBall.) What were the big marketing moments last year and what might they promise retailers in 2016?
The Top Ten Retail Marketing Moments, Shifts and Truths of 2015
10. Multiple generations are shopping. For the first time, six generations of shoppers are in the store at the same time. It would be a mistake for retail marketers to focus on only one demographic; each requires specific approaches and experiences. Extra work for marketers, perhaps, but a bottom-line reality.
9. The shopper is wired; mobile has changed the game. Smartphones are ubiquitous, and shoppers now depend on them to enhance and improve the shopping experience. Retail marketers must ensure that mobile is in the marketing mix.
8. The shopper has re-defined sales events. Bye-bye, Black Friday. Back off, holiday creep.
7. The shopper demands a seamless experience. She seeks real-time product availability, delivery and customer service, across channels and across geographies. She wants to deal with a singular brand.
6. Analytics drive marketing. Smart retail marketers are finally doing something with all that Big Data. Improved info collection techniques and evaluation tools are leading to specific insights, which, in turn, inform better marketing.
5. Engagement has been taken to an emotional level. Shoppers want to connect with retail brands in ways that move them. She is not seeking a transaction; the shopper craves heartfelt interaction.
4. The voice of the shopper has never been louder or more insistent. She is smart, demanding and in a position of power. Retail marketers must listen closely and respond quickly.
3. The shopper wants it personalized. She seeks “just-for-me” products and experiences. Whether in-store or online, the shopper requires customization. Real-time information gathering and unobtrusive digital outreach is critical to make that connection with the shopper who now wants to take things personally.
2. Digital and in-store experiences must be linked. Consistency between the real and the virtual is no longer optional. Shoppers expect it, and the smart retailer realizes how much more powerful each avenue is when combined. Clear connections of display and signage with online brand presentations bridge the gap, as do pop-up experiences.
1. CX is king. Creating a valuable, meaningful experience for the shopper is the retail marketer’s most important job. The store must be presented in new ways; as a destination, as a gathering place, as an opportunity for self-expression and actualization (really!). Digital technology, rich online and in-store content, smart sales associates and shopper feedback mechanisms are the building blocks of great shopper experience.