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Competitive advantage within any market depends on the strategic review of market conditions. Within the retail industry, in particular, an appropriate mix of factors (known as the 5 Ps) — product, price, place, promotion and people — ensures that a company creates products and services that not only meet consumer demand, but that enhance customer satisfaction. Of course, companies can attempt to build a winning strategy around these factors using their executives’ intuition or evidence from past performance, but our team at Research America wouldn’t recommend it. Studies show that data-driven decisions are more likely to render profitable results than those based on hunch alone. For this reason, we believe that deliberate and regular review of the retail market provides the most reliable insight into a “winning” marketing mix. Looking back at some of our most recent research, here are three of the latest retail trends we see shaping the current and future retail markets:
As the past year’s pandemic has spread across the world, so has consumer reliance on integrated shopping solutions. Restricted access to physical shopping opportunities has forced more and more people to turn to purchasing channels that allow them to review merchandise online before they buy. Thus, in order to remain both relevant and profitable, retailers have had to reimagine how they deliver their products, as well as superior customer service. The consumer — not the product — is now at the heart of the business transaction; as a result, retailers must offer a hybrid business model that allows both on- and off-line transactions across fully integrated channels so that consumers remain safe and informed with reliable and convenient access to the products and services they need. We don’t see that retail trend changing even when the pandemic’s shopping restrictions subside.
Likewise, we’ve noticed a dramatic trend over the past several years that COVID-19 has only magnified: improving the customer experience. To strengthen their market positions, companies have increasingly turned to improving their customer experiences; satisfied customers are good for business, after all! And while concentrated effort has been put into enhancing customer services, many companies are and will continue to take service to a whole new level, paying careful attention to how consumers and all users engage with all aspects of a company/brand. Instead of just facilitating the healthy resolution of issues, they are actively seeking ways to ensure consumers have positive exchanges with their brand along the entire length of the customer journey. As we head into 2021, we expect to see companies offering more personalized interactions in an effort to bolster their market standings, meeting a range of different types of consumers exactly when and how and where they need to be met so that they keep coming back for more.
Finally, we anticipate retailers to rely heavily on data analytics in the future, particularly predictive analytics that help them forecast future outcomes. The volatility of the past year has magnified the need for agility; retailers have had to pivot course to find new ways of meeting and exceeding changing consumer demands. As technology continues to provide wider and quicker access to large volumes of information, companies will turn more and more to retail analysis tools that allow them to reduce risks, uncover opportunities and forge new relationships.
There’s little doubt the retail industry is changing. Certain retail trends, such as the ones mentioned above, might be evident, but others depend on factors unique according to location, offerings and more. Quality market research can help you uncover specific data that more fully informs your own specific business decisions. The result: your company can better predict and meet consumer expectations. Please contact us to learn more about the qualitative and quantitative research measures you can take to garner insight that is relevant and, thus, profitable.