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What’s in store: 10 retail trends and predictions for 2019

The pace of change for the retail industry in 2019 will be relentless particularly as consumer demands and exciting technology possibilities keep expanding. In line with this expansion, there’s an expectation for Australian retailers to adapt. This year’s trends confirm that consumers are taking control and are the driving force for change.

Here are Accenture’s top 10 trends and predictions for 2019:

1 – Relevance and participation is the new loyalty

Customers feel increasing ‘ownership’ over the brands they love. This year, brands will meet the consumers’ strong desire to participate, by creating opportunities that bring them into the heart of their products, services, and experiences.

Retailers are achieving this by creating guest experiences, such as those available at Disney Stores worldwide, where employees can organise milestone celebrations for customers. From submitting ideas and crowdfunding innovations, to trialing new products and offering feedback; these are clever ways to create an authentic and ‘lovable’ brand experience.

2 – Make it just for me

The transition from mass-produced consumer goods to personalised products and services might be old news, but it’s given rise to the new age of ‘precision’ consumer goods.

Retailers in 2019 are responding to ultra-personalised services with the help of gathering data about their customers. A great example of this is beauty brand L’Occitane, who rolled out an AI-powered personalised experience to recommend products based on a customer’s behaviour on the companies’ website.

3 – The personality test

Consumers are attracted to people, not products, which has been key behind the success of influencer marketing. Brands will be tapping into this need to ‘personify’ the brand by articulating a clear purpose – one that expresses their heritage, their ethics, their sense of fun, and more.

General Pants has leveraged its influencer marketing strategy as a call to action on the body confidence movement. The retailer created a #Nofilter campaign fronted by influencers appearing in photos that weren’t retouched, to address the mounting pressure for consumers to achieve perfection. It’s a strong example of the power of treating a brand as more than just a product and putting it right into the heart of consumer lifestyles.

4 – The consumer maker movement

Retailers aiming for success in 2019 will need to tap into the ‘consumer maker movement’ by encouraging individual makers to shape the brand and unleash their creative side.

For example, Canon’s Experience Store based in Melbourne, offers people an opportunity to be inspired, learn and try the gamut of Canon products, services, events and content through an experience customised for them.

5 – Shrinking the thinking

Convenience no longer means ‘fast and easy’. For 2019, convenience reads as simplicity (‘don’t make me think’) and precision (‘give me exactly what I need’).

Brands are helping customers remove the complexity of their day-to-day living. Whether it is ‘helping me do it’ (meal kits), ‘doing it for me’ (Ikea), or ‘getting it right for me first time’ (hyper-personalised recommendations), smart brands are taking consumer convenience to new places.

For example, the meal kit company, Marley Spoon delivers ingredients for specific recipes to the customers front door. Therefore, creating an element of surprise and convenience for the customer.

6 – The consumer takes center stage

Today’s brands are redesigning customer experiences, leveraging the power of digital, physical, and social connection. By building new experiences and services around a brand, retailers create new opportunities to fulfill consumers’ desires, build attachment, and generate value for the business. Showcasing this trend, David Jones’ flagship store on Elizabeth Street in Sydney is undergoing a $200 million transformation; creating an unrivalled level of personalised customer experience.

7 – The death of impulse? Or its rebirth?

Modern, digital shopping is removing opportunities to act on impulse. Retailers will need to get much better at capturing consumers’ attention, both in store and online. Retailers must become less reliant on promotions and point-of-sale placements, and maximise their use of data to deliver greater relevance in the shopping experience. Retailers also need to consider how social media creates a vast wealth of data-rich touchpoints for instant, hyper-relevant shopping.

8 – Speak to me

In 2019, voice is creating new opportunities for brands as we see an increase in voice-plus-screen devices, and smart connectivity with in-home IoT technology. Direct customer conversations will open a huge new source of rich consumer insights. And maturing emotion analytics will mean they not only know instantly when a customer wants to talk – they’ll know just how they’re feeling when they do. Consider how Google and Whirlpool are streamlining voice controls for consumer appliances. It’s all about helping consumers get the most out of their purchases in the easiest and most natural way of all: talking.

9 – Conscious consumption

This year, sustainability has become mainstream and personal. Customers are making carefully considered choices to buy from companies that stand for something bigger than what they sell. Zara and H&M are both driving the conversation around sustainability.

For this reason, brand purpose matters more than ever. Companies that actively communicate their purpose and demonstrate true commitment in everything they do, are building deeper connections with consumers and driving competitiveness.

10 – Screen time shopping

Over the next year, brands need to harness the untapped possibilities created by smartphones. As more consumers than ever before shop through smartphones, it is important that retailers make themselves available to consumers through these devices.

The one prediction you can’t ignore

What we know for sure is that there’ll be more disruption ahead in the Australian retail market. The reality is that customers cannot be reduced to archetypes: everyone’s needs vary depending on time and context. In this new era of digitally-born disruptors and consumer control, purchases are increasingly connected to brand relevance. With thanks to today’s technologies, retailers can now see and act on these fluctuations in the moment. For the year ahead, retailers must succeed in responding to evolving consumer needs and technological possibilities to achieve relevance at scale.

Michelle Grujin is managing director for Accenture’s ANZ retail practice

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