Five Trends That Will Force A Retail Renaissance.

On a global basis, there are a few big trends that retailers are either already dealing with or will soon be dealing with because they will change consumption in a major way. The first is that – despite the current global credit situation – the world has divided into markets that are either mature or rapidly maturing. In mature markets shopper’s thirst for “lots of stuff” has peaked and they are now looking for more deep-seated reasons to buy. In rapidly maturing markets the new middle classes are frenetically consuming aspirational lifestyle but, because of the pace of maturation, this will alter and align with the more mature markets within a ten-year time span as they embrace the behaviours of the markets they aspire to.

The second is the growing influence of the environmental, social and governance issues that we call “sustainability”. In this area governments, political bodies, industry and consumers are all converging on a space that will see the widespread practice of low price (profit through volume) retail migrating to one or two price led retailers in each territory and every other competitor moving to a position based on selling less for more. This will be affected by a series of carrot and stick or reward and penalty measures for business and consumers alike that will fundamentally convert sentiment into changed purchase behaviour. Consumers will seek quality, provenance, emotional and rational reasons to buy and a good story rather than un-thinking, compulsive bulk purchasing based on a cheap price that was “too good to refuse”.

The third trend is that the great will get bigger. There is a global shortage of truly talented people in retail who understand how to stay relevant and balance the competing needs of all their stakeholders. In this time of watershed change that the next decade will become, these business leaders will prosper at the expense of many others.

The fourth will be the critical issue of continuity of supply as the world struggles with the management of resources and production output and the shift brought about by legislative, economic, social and environmental pressure to move to a more from less approach to both production and consumption.

The fifth trend will be the absolute embedding of technology and media in to everything we do and the far-reaching changes this will make to access, to information, to communication and to commerce. We are in an age where people have heard about everything but truly know and comprehend very little. The ‘age of anxiety’ will see nano-second impulsive decision making fueled by instant access to everything. Automation and technology will create a time void rapidly filled with a flood of stress generating stimulation, creating a deeper search for meaning that will emerge as the new underlying theme in social connection.

All five of the above trends converge on the same space and set us up for the new renaissance of retail. A golden age where retailers and shoppers move beyond transactional commerce to embrace mutually rewarding relationships and retail lights up with a rainbow of diversity rather than shades of grey. A time when technology and science create solutions that deliver both sustainable profit gain and sustainable lifestyle aspirations. Are you ready to enjoy it?