Every year we attend RCC’s Store conference. It’s a great place to learn about what is happening, and more importantly, what will be happening, in the world of retail. Here is a quick summary of the big ideas we heard.
What Customers Are Thinking About
• 60% feel positive about the future but 55% feel worse off than prior to the recession.
• They are concerned about inflation and the economy. Therefore they are looking for ways to cut back including:
• Buying less impulse items
• Paying closer attention to prices driving less
• Making things, such as clothes, last longer
• Taking advantage of sales and coupons
• Shopping at discount stores
• Eating out less or eat at cheaper restaurants
75% of Canadians are buying from brands that have similar values to their own.
57% of Canadians are more opportunities for individual businesses to compete with big businesses.
People are looking to improve themselves. 60.5% of Canadians agree that they are interested in learning more skills so they can be more self reliant and independent.
Thrift and Adaptability
72.5% of Canadians say they are happier with a more down to earth lifestyle. They are less materialistic in many ways and feel better for it.
Local and Artisanal
72.3% of Canadians will pay a premium for products and services that come from companies that contribute to the local community.
71% of Canadians believe they can change behavior by supporting companies that do the right thing.
(From John Gerzema, author of Spendthrift)
What Retailers Need to Think About
Adopting Technology for the Customer to Interface with.
Mobile Interfaces, QR Codes, Digital Messaging etc. will all contribute to the shopping experience. Smart phones are growing at a phenomenal rate and are replacing the PC as the individual’s technology of choice. Customers want to use these devices in retail settings to source information, pricing and more. In fact 77% of them are already using them in the retail space in some capacity, they just need retailers and vendors to help facilitate.
Shift From Selection to Solution
Where customers wanted lots and lots of selection, they now look to retailers to seek out products that offer the best value and then make their choice.
Embracing social media at a pace consistent with the customer.
Canadian businesses have been slow to embrace social media and they are lagging behind customer behavior. Consider that Facebook claims to have provided more referrals to a retailer than Google and 1 in 3 Canadians access Facebook each day (the avg. Canadian has 190 friends, well above the world avg. of 130)
Consider the Social and Cultural Fit
Retailers must consider values and community in planning their brand activities. They need to consider how they will make things better and tell the story.
They must also develop strategies for being part of a smaller catch basin of customers and the local conditions that are required to succeed.
Creating a great retail experience
In a world of increasing commoditization, the in-store experience is the most critical customer touch point for a retailer and it therefore differentiates a retailer’s brand from competitors.