The To-Be-Seen in Twenty-Fourteen
Strap on your Google Glass, button up your Bluetooth coat and buckle into your self-driving car, because 2014’s going to be…well, a surprisingly smooth and satisfying ride, actually—thanks to major advances in the worlds of retail, technology, and brand marketing. Here at Medallion Retail, we’ve got our finger on the pulse, and we think you’ll agree: there’s quite a lot to be excited about this year. Here are the five developments we see when we gaze into our 2014 crystal ball.
B2C, meet your younger, hipper cousin, C2C. The retail curator lands on our list as this year’s most exciting influencer. Think gallerist meets fashionista meets editor meets DJ—and you end up with all of the apparel, electronics and cultural accoutrements you’re looking for assembled in one location by a trusted trend watcher with impeccable taste. A blog, pin or tweet from a social-media sage or high-powered celeb instantly certifies your brand as a status symbol—but in the curate economy, that power falls to anyone with a laptop and some impressionable followers.
For the future to be hands free, we gotta wear our technology. From Internet-capable glasses to smartwatches that do everything our smartphones do—but on our wrists instead of in our pockets—wearable technology will move from niche market to full-blown phenom so fast manufacturers won’t know what hit them. (In 2011, approximately 14 million wearable devices were purchased; projections for 2016 exceed 170 million units.) Before you know it, your belt will have GPS, your jacket will have WiFi, and you’ll have a device embedded in your tooth monitoring your calorie intake.
Carrying ten different forms of ID—especially when we’re trying to catch a flight—is a thing of the past. Not to mention credit cards, ATM cards, health insurance cards, and all that other junk ripping at the fragile seams of our wallets. (We can hear our grandchildren now: “Grandma, what’s a wallet?”) Facial recognition will soon be the norm at airports, as will fingerprint identification at checkout counters and retina scans at doctors’ offices. Expect tech luminaries to tackle privacy concerns head on this year. And with the new health care law mandating electronic health records for all Americans, you can bank on a massive upsurge in the amount of money pouring into the field.
You might think a landscape dominated by global conglomerates, outsourcing, and cut-rate international labor would spell disaster for small, local businesses—but you’d be wrong. The push towards cheap goods from overseas will only kick localized marketing into hyperdrive. Wondering how farmers will sell their goods online to nearby communities? Stay tuned, cause it’s coming—and will probably look something like what Etsy has done for small-market artisans. Not even the heavy hitters can resist the insight gained from a pop-up shop, and increasingly sophisticated POS data will force brands into geographies that work and out of those that don’t. The world may be getting smaller, but that’s only going to benefit those farsighted enough to find solutions right next door.
Activism by Proxy
The socially conscious Millennial doesn’t take to the streets to protest; she buys a pair of glasses from a company that then donates another pair to an underprivileged person. She doesn’t stand on her soapbox and scream into a megaphone; she likes the Facebook page of her favorite charity. This year, keep an eye out for a major swing towards brands that support ethical work conditions, fair trade, environmental sustainability, and the power of a great product to make the world a better place. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of retail. Email, tweet or Facebook us—or pick up the phone and give us a call. We’ve been helping our clients stay ahead of the times for more than 50 years, and we’re ready to help make your brand’s future a bright and prosperous one.