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Retail Trends of 2016

Reviewing the articles published on thedrum.com, we have pulled together the top trends in retail from 2016, and look forward at what the future holds for retailers. 

The key trends emerging in retail from last year reflect an era of convenience; from home devices permitting us to turn off the lights without getting up from our chair and food and clothes purchases available in the same building, the ease of our shopping experience has compensated for the economic uncertainty we’re facing.

In January 2016, Hamish Pringle outlined the challenges and opportunities for marketers and agencies for the coming year. The accurate prediction of Brexit causing political uncertainty and the soaring of robots, apps and social media influence were among those he stated would cause vast change in the marketing world. The contrast of shoppers and businesses tightening their purse strings with the explosion of successful advertising across the web means that consumers have thrown a safety net their shopping experience; they are engrossed in the social-shopping-sphere but are being frugal with which advertising sources they entertain.

This safe reality we have wrapped ourselves in has made for some interesting marketing methods. In May 2016, Engine Creative segmented five augmented reality techniques used by retail brands which successfully drew attention. From children’s gaming experiences to jolting life into catalogues, the blurring of reality is a fantastic technique to make a normal experience seem new and exciting. Using examples of its own campaigns, the agency explains the digital opportunities retailers can find in the reality word.

More than ever, consumers are relying on word of mouth advice to guide their purchases, and are more likely to trust brands illustrating a human side. According to Richard Danks, head of strategy for Portas Agency, people are not interested in gimmicks or trends and the uplifting compliments printed on receipts at the salad bar Tossed is retail at its best. He explains what other techniques agencies can learn from retail in order to experience the interest of the consumer and win over loyal customers.

In the past few years, retail shops and supermarkets have exchanged roles in how they play the property game. Retail shops are shifting from brick and mortar to online and supermarkets are finding more footfall when opening in shopping centres. xAd’s vice president of marketing insights, Sarah Ohle, explains that retailers have been moving their stores online, leaving spaces in shopping centres that supermarkets are keen to snap up; while clothes and jewellery shops are building relationships in the online world, food retailers actually find being in the proximity of other shops drives better footfall than having a large building away from other retail life.

However, it is not just the e-commerce stores that are reaping the benefits of the internet. A 2017 Yieldbot study which investigated how mobile is influencing in-store shopping behaviour found that mobile advertising is more effective than social media – the study concludes that number one requirement for consumers is relevancy, and online coupons are just the ticket for providing this need.

The trends retailers need to look out for this year are relevance and convenience. Where shoppers once wanted physical human assistance in-store, they are seeking human guidance online, from the ease of their hand-held devices. To grab the attention of consumers, retailers must be savvy with their advertising, but not gimmicky – offering customers a quality to make them smile, give them an exciting surprise when they use an app or make their life simpler will increase the chance of loyalty. Expressing your human side on social media and planting yourself in a space where consumers can reap other benefits will also increase retailer’s odds of appealing to audiences. Create a safe space at a time where shoppers are concerned with the economy, and you will be guaranteed to reach your audience.