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  • Miriam Simon

Retail hasn't changed. The Consumer has...

Updated: 5 days ago


Even before Covid-19 became part of our daily vocabulary, the last number of years has seen come serious vernacular about the ‘Retail Apocalypse.’ 

 

There's also been much debate about whether the Store (aka bricks & mortar) have a future at all.  Spoiler alert …It absolutely does! Even withstanding the current Pandemic situation


To be clear – This article is not about everything being rosy in the Retail Garden. Because it clearly isn't.


The Retail landscape has started seeing seismic change in recent years. And there are key reasons for this. Just look at some of these pre-pandemic headlines.







Not a pretty sight, all negatively focused, all ‘retail apocalypse’ and tales of woe. And some of these headlines are a couple of years old - so this doom mongering isn't new.


Note: It is unfortunate that we don’t shout more about the Retailers that have been doing well. Those retailers need more recognition and celebration. To be clear, there are some great retailers out there that had been bucking the trend the headlines above suggest. Retailers that were maybe even thriving pre-pandemic and will thrive again in time. [That’s an article for another day😊]  

 

The fact remains that Retail IS an Industry in midst of massive change...

However...


The newspaper industry.

How many people buy a newspaper every day nowadays versus just a few years ago? 

Less than five years ago – I was living & working in Dublin. 


Like others, I frequently bought a morning paper. I’d also buy an evening herald on the way home. As a retailer – Newspapers were also a key advertising vehicle.

We'd use newspaper / print for key adverts & events. And then use radio for more urgent ‘call to action’ activity.


In all reality, my husband & I probably bought 8-10 newspapers during the week and then the broadsheets at the weekend. That’s a lot of paper! 


We may buy 2 per week now, mainly at weekend ‘as a treat.’ 

And I’d hazard a guess that this is a common behaviour change as most of us have become more digitally focused.



The Car industry.

Again - An industry witnessing huge change. Hybrid cars & electric cars are both now coming more centre stage. We’re seeing much more focus on carbon emissions. 


In addition – we’re starting to hear more about the race towards autonomous vehicles - which will likely be the future of driving.


Think about diesel. We have all spent the last decade at least – focusing on diesel. Thinking diesel was fantastic and a money saver. 


Quite quickly and also quite recently (early 2020) – the language changed.

Diesel went from angel to devil. That happened very fast…



Beauty Salons.

Here's another industry that is evolving at a seriously dynamic pace!

Ten-fifteen years ago, you were positively posh if you went to a salon and had your eyebrows plucked or threaded. Salons were very much facial, manicure, pedicure focused.


These days consumer expectations are on a par with Hollywood surgeons. We expect to be sprayed, spliced and sliced to look much younger.


Serious, almost medical grade offerings are now widely available.

I’m smiling writing this – my profile pictures all feel like false advertising with just three months of containment and a lack of good hairdressing and professional grooming.



And even Banking!

I read an article in February this year suggesting that ATMs will soon be a thing of the past.

One pandemic later, and this is a trend that is seriously accelerating.

Cash no longer king'. Contact-less payments are seeing serious upsurge.




These are all - just some examples of how nearly every Industry is witnessing huge shifts.


Huge change.


And the common denominator is...


Us! It’s people. It’s the consumer that is changing.


And whilst some of this is about the world becoming more and more digitally entrenched.   Which it is of course! There are also social and generational changes at work here. 


What's more - Our 2020 'Annus Horribilis' has actually served to accelerate some of the behavioural changes as well as create further ones.


For example - Commuting culture - This always had a limited shelf life. Even pre C19.


Gen Z & Millenials both realise the absurdity of spending hours unproductively sitting in traffic to shlepp in and out of work daily.


Add in a growing focus on sustainability and managing carbon emissions. The long commute culture was always going to have to change.


The Pandemic has speeded up that process quite dramatically, because it's forced employers to trust distance working, and they've now realised for the most part, that it works.


And we still have Brexit yet to come!


Already beginning to play out in the 'new Covid Blood Bath Retail scene..

The point is that Consumer behaviour is what is most important -

In any sort of revival.


Across all industry!


And with a move towards authenticity and a return to strong values - This also yields huge opportunity for the Indies in particular - to rise up and excel within Retail.

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