Trading Up!

In the demand driven era of the 21st century we have long progressed past needs to wants. After all, the vast majority of the mature western world’s families have access to everything they need to survive – if not prosper. In a world where the media fuels our ever-increasing anxiety about everything – even though we don’t really have much to be truly anxious about – the motivation for consumption has swung around to how the goods and services will add value for us and to our lifestyles.

We don’t consume in increasing volumes just because it’s cheap any more. Nor are we satisfied with the status quo.

I believe – “Nobody aspires to the lifestyle they currently lead”.

Even if we aspire to a simpler life, it is aspiring to a different lifestyle than the one we currently lead. We have retail ADHD. We are always looking for a new thing, the next thing, a better thing for ourselves, our loved ones and our lifestyle.

We are also looking to escape the cloak of anxiety that seems to cover us constantly.

Trading up is a growing trend that revolves around two views of “better”. The first is the one that is fuelled by the idea that quality is aligned to sustainability and that we should buy better quality that lasts longer rather than cheap, disposable solutions that will in the end cost us all dearly.

The second revolves around the idea of personal reward and the emotional uplift and the self-confidence that is derived from acquiring the trade-up item rather than settling for the same old item that has become ho-hum for whatever reason.

The luxury goods industry understands this trend intimately but volume retailers are beginning to embrace it. With shopping patterns becoming increasingly habitual and entrenched and discounting of volume items becoming blunter as a tactical weapon used to drive increased profit, many are discovering that the same old customers can produce increasing levels of profit contribution through clever use of trade-up strategies.

These strategies rely on customer recognition of value, quality, creativity, innovation and desirability.

Customer criteria that are constantly being re-drawn as yesterday’s trade-ups become tomorrow’s everyday. Clever merchants understand that the classic retail pyramid of good, better, best means nothing unless the customer can see the value and easily discover the newness that entices them to trade-up.

While failed retailers have been overcome by discounting, today’s retail heroes ride the wave of customers increasingly trading up to bring joy to themselves and those around them.