Following on from our recent look at Brands & Marketing courtesy of the 100 Trends and change to watch in 2022′ outlook presentation developed by Emma Chiu, Global director at Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. We’re now going to consider what 2022 might have to offer those who live in the retail & commerce space.
Long-term challenges are forcing retailers to rethink their core offers, with some diversifying into unexplored areas.
Few sectors have had a more turbulent couple of years than retail. The story of 2020 was one of the deserted high streets, shuttered shops and plummeting sales. Fast-forward to today, and disrupted supply chains and labour shortages burden retailers. These crises are hastening a realignment.
In times of uncertainty, adaptability is critical. Enterprising retailers are shifting gears, finding creative ways to diversify beyond their business’s borders.
In July 2021, John Lewis Partnership—the British parent company of retail brands John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners—revealed plans to become a private landlord.
With the company posting the first full-year loss since it was founded in 1864, for the period to January 2021, diversification is a crucial plank in its turnaround strategy. By 2030, John Lewis Partnership aims to have 40% of its profits coming from non-retail lines, principally financial services, housing and outdoor living.
Consumers no longer see brands serving one core purpose in the new retail era. People want more profound experiences with the brands they trust, so there are opportunities to capture new revenue streams. Diversification could be critical to the bricks-and-mortar retail recovery.
Other areas where we see retail brands move away from their traditional bricks-and-mortar outlets are with the rise of virtual flagships. Digital stores are taking over eCommerce storefronts.
Today, 81% of global consumers believe that a brand’s digital presence is as essential as its in-store presence. This is prompting brands to enhance their eCommerce storefront prominence and create virtual flagship stores.
Earlier this year, Samsung opened a virtual replica of its flagship New York City store in Decentraland. In July 2021, luxury brand Fendi opened a 360-degree digital flagship based on its 57th Street store in New York City, offering visitors virtual tours and access to its latest collections.
Hermès has rolled out digital flagships in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand. At the same time, Beauty brands are also upping their digital storefront impact. Lancôme debuted its first temporary virtual flagship in Singapore in summer 2020.
The Lancôme Advanced Génifique #LiveYourStrength virtual flagship offered 3D shopping experiences, consultations and educational events. It included a “discover zone” where visitors could take a personality test designed by psychologist Perpetua Neo to find their strengths. The L’Oréal-owned skincare brand has since introduced virtual pop-ups for Australia, Korea and the United States. In April 2021, Nars opened a digital flagship store, immersing visitors in a 3D shopping experience.
Such is the growth expected in this sector that, according to predictions from eMarketer, the global eCommerce market will grow from $4.89 trillion in 2021 to $5.42 trillion in 2022. Virtual flagships are becoming the new storefront to entice shoppers and enhance a brand’s overall digital experience.
But while there is a more significant shift to online retailing than ever before, all is not lost. Some department stores are reformatting and rethinking the traditional department store model.
The latest department stores are more town squares than retailers, reflecting a shift in the retail landscape from big-box luxury to community microcosm.
Beales, which closed all of its UK stores in 2020, has reopened three locations under new ownership—and is looking beyond retail. The top floors of the Poole branch will be turned into a “health village” run by the National Health Service. It will offer dermatology, orthopedics, ophthalmology, breast cancer screening departments and counselling rooms for those suffering from long COVID.
A new concept department store is reinventing a location formerly occupied by legacy British retailer Debenhams. Called Bobby’s, the new store opened in the UK town of Bournemouth in September 2021 and houses a beauty hall, an art gallery and ice-cream and coffee parlour, alongside shopping and local artisans, in place of floors filled with clothing, accessories and homeware. The future plans include a hairdressing salon, dental services, microbrewery, and even a smokery.
“I don’t ever see a big department store chain emerging again,” Beales’ CEO Tony Brown told the Guardian. “We will see small local chains popping up with eight or ten stores. The model will change dramatically over the next couple of years. People want something more localised.”
It’s clear that the traditional department store format is no longer working. Following a string of closures, a long-established generation of department stores must rethink and adapt if they are to survive the future.
While the rest of the world is busy concentrating on all things digital in the retail space, there is a movement to bring back retro retail as the latest high-design stores are turning back the hands of time with nostalgic interiors.
Examples of this new movement include Superette’s newest cannabis dispensary in Toronto, designed to resemble a retro grocery store. Its vibrant colours, punchy graphics, and what Dezeen called “pop art aesthetic” are evocative of mid-century retail branding and design. In August 2021, the company opened Sip’ n’ Smoke, an express kiosk with a similar look inspired by old-school cafeterias.
The interior of Los Angeles grocery Wine & Eggs, which opened in 2021, was partially inspired by public schools. Saturated hues of blue and yellow feature throughout the space and branding, complemented by bright green. Rounded wood shelving and displays call to mind building blocks, and the blue-and-green checkered floor is made from commercial-grade vinyl composition tile (VCT). “I love VCT because it actually feels both playful and reminiscent of our childhood in public schools,” Adi Goodrich, who created the interior, told Dezeen.
Creative agency Saint of Athens designed a jewellery store in August 2021 in Mykonos, Greece, that nods to the splendour of luxury swimming pools in a bygone era. The interior is decked in light-blue tiles with red-and-white striped accents. “Soft blue, a colour reminiscent of urban pool luxury of the ’60s, furniture made from metal, vintage elements and custom blue terrazzo displays constitute a retro yet modern, Wes Anderson kind of universe,” agency founder Nikos Paleologos told Dezeen.
Because for the past two years, people have been turning to nature-inspired design to create a sense of comfort and stability. Now, the latest store designs are opting for kitschy, playful interiors that offer a nostalgic escape.
To learn more about what trends we can expect to see in 2022, keep watching this space and learn more about how CSMG digital can help your brand; please feel free to contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org