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Retail is a discipline filled with contradictory realities, and may leave marketers unclear as to where to focus their energies, resources and talent. The Y&R Trends with Tension in Retail report identified some of the major trends as observed in retail throughout the EMEA region:

Speeding up vs slowing down:

At TechCrunch in October 2015, a technology media property dedicated to promoting and profiling start-ups, digital experts stated that the best in mobile advertising transpires during the tiny moments as the consumer glances at their screens. This usually happens while they are doing something else more mundane and filling up their downtime with screen time, which is becoming synonymous.

On the one hand, culture is obsessed with time-saving apps and features – but on the other, mindfulness is a topic that is gaining traction. It seems like the backlash to overuse of technology means that consumers are looking for some quiet time to pay more attention to themselves.

Peer-to-peer vs personal data paranoia:

Heightened connectivity has led to a peer-to-peer economy, where everything from lifts to work to crowdfunded ideas can be shared among the online community. Mobile payments are predicted to lead to more shared products, experiences and services. People have become as open with brands as they are with friends – and expect a strong data exchange.

According to Simon Uwins, former CMO of Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands, consumers assume you know everything about them once they have shared data with you – and expect brands to personalise their experience accordingly.

Hanging on to the bitter end vs fast obsolescence:

Today’s savvy consumer wants to know more about the quality of the product and hopes for minimal waste, damage and negative impact on the environment. Supermarkets are now promoting “ugly” fruit and vegetables to people sharing leftover food in their neighbourhood via apps, while countries like France have finalised laws to prevent supermarkets from throwing food away that is still edible. With the effects of the current droughts in South Africa, these tools and solutions must be considered in the retail environment.

Despite the fact that consumers are increasingly interested in production details from farm to final garment or plate and are generally waste-conscious, they are eager to buy the next version of their devices when the current ones feel obsolete. They even feel confident that overpaying is worth it.

Leveraging tensity is therefore the key to creating winning experiences for customers. The word “tension” might not have the greatest of connotations in the current South African landscape, but as a marketing concept and for brands, palpable energy created by opposite forces – especially in retail – can captivate consumers.

The big take-out: Y&R identified a number of trends for retailers in its annual report – mindfulness is gaining traction, a peer-to-peer economy means consumers expect brands to personalise their experience, and solutions to minimise wastage must be implemented.

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