Insight: Retail trends of 2019 – Sue Benson, The Market Creative

Sue Benson, MD of The Market Creative, explains how consumer behaviour is changing and what retailers need to prepare for in 2019.

Shifting political, societal and cultural norms mean external forces beyond our control will forever shape the way we do business, creating new needs, attitudes and behaviours. Below are three trends that will disrupt retail in 2019.


#1 Gender

We could not have imagined 10 years ago that an idea as progressive as gender fluidity would force a re-examination of the way we make, merchandise, market and retail goods. But it has, and we are only at the beginning of this journey.

Gender fluidity became mainstream in part due to a video by actress Ruby Rose. Viewed over 40 million times, her interpretation of identity highlights the understanding retailers need to have.

Those of sharp and open mind will rethink the binary layout and navigation of stores and sites, re-appraise and re-draw pen-portraits and re-evaluate marketing and strategies that deliver content on a gender binary basis.


#2 Meaning

People are looking beyond material replenishment to mental nourishment, questioning if happiness can be bought as they search for meaning in new ways.A new form of status has emerged, displacing symbols of old that portray an aspirational existence; health as the new wealth. Gym memberships and personal trainers compete with holidays and cars and come with a profound realignment of needs and values that savvy retailers are striving to meet.
Brands are an omnipresent force of influence and often disappointment. While many thrive on aspirational value, few acknowledge the detrimental impact this can have and suggest buying less or encouraging customers to reflect on what they’ve achieved. This is what consumers are considering as they yearn for more meaning, eschewing possessions for experiences.

Retailers play a fundamental role in enabling people to become an idealised version of themselves, the version that they see in their head and in the social posts of those they aspire to emulate. As has always been the case, retailers must maintain an acute sense of who their customers’ ideal self is

#3 Expectations

Before Uber, can you remember what it was like to book a taxi? It’s hard to remember how painful this experience was, and subsequently how wonderful Uber is. In fact, it’s raised our expectations so high that it continually has to keep up with them. Research has shown the longer the services have been available in a city, the higher our expectations are around short waiting times.

Disruptive upstarts don’t just impact sales and market share – they raise expectations to a whole new level. There are two key areas in retail that have seen the bar raised and many incumbents falling short: customer service and delivery. Retailers must push the boundaries on both these counts, looking beyond their own category.

For more trends download our free report Retail Trends 2019 and Beyond


Sue Benson, Managing Director, The Market Creative

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