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Whenever marketers get together, there will always be conversation about The Next Big Trend – it’s right up there with, “Where’s the open bar?” It’s in the job title – MARKETers need to anticipate where the MARKET is going and lead their companies to innovate. It’s even more important right now because of new technologies becoming available, plus a generational shift as the Boomer generation slowly becomes a smaller percentage of the population with purchasing power. There are hints that we may be coming to a major inflection point in how consumers research and buy products.
Therefore, let’s get on with defining The Next Big Trend and how marketers need to act on it:
The Next Big Trend is marketing in parallel universes.
Perhaps you were expecting artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain technology, contactless stores or digital assistants? Those are all vitally important and worthy of study right now, but how you study them and adopt them will be what differentiates you in the marketplace.
Let’s go back to that feeling of being at an inflection point. Will the change be like the time period when cars replaced horses on the road in under 25 years? Or, will it be more like the advent of TV where, for a full generation, consumers continued to listen to radio? That’s where the skill of the marketer matters.
Let’s start with an example that demonstrates what’s going on:
The penetration of online purchasing: Ask any marketer you meet for the percentage of retail purchases made online and most will tell you a number between 40% and 75% – the real number is still under 10% if you follow the official numbers from the US Department of Commerce1 or 13.2% if you follow WWD, which adjusts for food purchases in restaurants.
What marketers are actually referring to is either the growth rate for online purchasing3 or the percentage of consumers who shopped online at least once in the past 12 months.4
Kobie Marketing research indicates that over 86% of Millennials and even 76% of Gen Z still regularly shop in store.5
Why this matters: Many retailers have been assuming that the brick and mortar experience is dead, and in some cases their in store experience reflects that lack of love. With 9 out of 10 purchases still made in store, lack of focus on the in-store experience damages the brand overall. Sears is the poster child for this mistake – their digital experience has actually been innovative for the past 10 years, but their stores have languished, as have their total sales.
What has become apparent in the past year is that the fastest growing big retailers are pushing for innovation at the point of sale in the physical as well as the digital sphere. That is why you see Amazon announcing the launch of 3,000 automated stores by 2020, Walmart testing convenience store-sized “Fuel
Stations,” and other retailers as varied as Target, Ikea, and Nordstrom piloting small-format stores.6 This is just one of several important trends in leveraging technology and data within physical stores.
From the perspective of loyalty programs in particular, the retailers and restaurants that implement their programs only through a mobile app see their programs peak at well under 50% in revenue penetration according to earnings reports. However, programs that enable members to interact in store and online, as well as in app, routinely achieve program penetrations in the 70%-80% range.
More examples of the gap between hype and the real world for major trends:
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