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Creating Tomorrow: how retailers can survive in the new decade

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The retail trends to know if you want your store to survive in the new decade

Those of us in the trend forecasting world are looking ahead to the next decade and what’s in store for retailers who want to be playing the same game this time next year, and the years after that.

While rental and resale are getting their fair share of column and advice inches, there are other trends to tap into if you want to give yourself the competitive edge that’s going to be needed. And, make no mistake, 2020 and the decade that follows will be as much of a rollercoaster ride as the years we’ve just survived.

If you haven’t heard about mindful retail yet, now’s the time to pay attention. With the advent of 5G and our lives getting even faster, consumers bombarded every minute with prompts, alerts, likes and emails are seeking calm physical environments that offer a respite from busy lives.

Think that means more yoga studios or mindfulness retreats? Wrong. There’s an opportunity here for savvy retailers to reimagine their shopping spaces as escapes from the hustle and bustle of the high street.

After years of being told to pack your square footage with digital devices and smart screens, this is the exact opposite – cut out the social media links and instead focus on creating a ‘micro break’ in a shopper’s busy day.

At the luxury end of the market, brands including The Row, with its recent London store launch, and Totême in Stockholm are paving the way for this more considered interior style, which focuses less on Instagram-friendly backdrops and instead on creating a mood that’s more like an upmarket home from home.

Brands like Aesop have been following this path for years, with its associates encouraging browsers to stop and use the large basins to wash their hands, try the products and pause for just a minute or two to appreciate the experience.

Of course, it isn’t as easy as bunging a squishy sofa in your store and hoping someone will stop and sit for a moment.

The Dover Street Parfums Market in Paris, which opened in October 2019, was designed to encourage self-exploration, with customers drawn into a journey around its labyrinthine displays and curved forms. “It’s more interesting for the customer to make architecture that requires them to think and allows them to discover things for themselves,” founder Rei Kawakubo said. “The idea is that you can’t see everything at once and you have to make your own journey of exploration.”

Wholly different in execution, but just as valuable, is activism retail. The conscious consumer is very much behind the trend, demanding that their favourite brands and retailers take a stand on the issues that matter to them, and withdrawing their support, and their pounds, when they don’t.

Patagonia is always the brand to point to when discussing best practice in this area, but many others are following suit with similarly positive outcomes. Take a look at the huge success enjoyed by newcomer Tony’s Chocolonely. Using its bright, Willy Wonka-inspired chocolate bars, the Dutch brand addresses issues including child labour and slavery. “We are an impact company: the mission comes before the brand or the product,” the brand’s head of marketing, Pascal van Ham, told a packed audience at Cannes Lions 2019.

My favourite example of activism retail from 2019, however, goes to cosmetics brand Beautycounter, which invites customers to get involved with its advocacy efforts in-store, with a custom phone booth and phonebook listing the names and numbers of Congress members. Stop by, dial up and you can even read a preprepared script to lend your support to better beauty laws.

Whichever trend chimes best with your brand ethos, make your 2020 New Year’s resolution one focused on listening to the consumer more intently. They’re hunting for more than just something to snap and post on social in the ‘new Twenties’.

Speaking of 2020, our team of trend experts have been hard at work scanning the world for the 20 trends that will shape the world in the next decade. Stay tuned for the key trends you need to know to get your brand ready for the 2020s.

 

On the beach: Barbados

In an effort to grab winter sun, I’ve spent the last week in Barbados where there was some sun, but mainly quite a bit of rain. However, we were sheltering from the downpours in Coral Reef Club, with stunning gardens, suites, and a fabulous beachfront – plus great rum punches, which more than made up for the rain.

On my shelf: IKEA soap on a rope

One of my cheapest and best buys of recent months, this soap smells insanely good, and having bought one for a tiny bathroom basin with no room for a soap dispenser, I’ve now stocked every bathroom with one and even bought some to pop into my clothes drawers.

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