Cate Trotter

Head of Trends, Insider Trends
Cate Trotter is the Founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends, a leading London-based retail futures consultancy.

Insider Trends helps brands such as Chanel, Marks & Spencer, Walmart, House of Fraser, Lancome, L’Oreal, Samsung, Clarins, Metro Group, Lego and EE innovate and create world-leading retail ecosystems. Insider Trends works with senior team members such as Chief Executives, Managing Directors and other C-Level professionals, specialising in retail trend presentations and retail safaris. Insider Trends' retail safaris give clients first-hand experience of the latest trends in action and introduces them to the innovators who can solve problems with the latest thinking and technology.

Cate's work draws on the latest case studies, solid data, and insights from her personal connections with retail innovators. As Insider Trends delivers retail safaris in London, New York, Paris and Berlin, she often comments from her own experience of world-leading retail spaces.

  • Posted on: 09/19/2018

    People don’t like being lumped into marketing segments

    These results aren't surprising. Who likes the idea of being lumped into some generic category? The concept of us all being special and different has been a big selling point and customers want to retain that feeling of being an individual. At the same time it's hard to do that without providing brands with information about yourself. This is where the issue comes as we're all pretty worried about privacy and our data and who's got it and how they're using it. One way for brands to counteract that would be to be as clear as possible about what they use the data for and to not ask for too information they don't need. It's a bit of a catch 22 -- customers need to see the pay off of giving their data to feel confident about handing it over but they won't hand it over without seeing how they'll benefit. That said, there is a lot more that retailers could do with the information they have now on customers just in better ways eg not following them around with creepy ads based on the top they searched and instead using that to curate some suggested outfits or similar. It also doesn't have to be all about traditional marketing channels -- rather than another email, couldn't brands be directing people to Pinterest boards or Instagram photos that they might be interested in?
  • Posted on: 09/18/2018

    Macy’s expands in-store pop-up concept with Facebook’s help

    I've always liked the idea of the Market at Macy's (and its acquisition of the excellent STORY) so it's nice to hear it's being rolled out further. The Facebook tie-up is an interesting one but may mean Macy's is getting some insights that it wouldn't have otherwise. It's still early days for VR and AR in retail but I think Macy's has pitched this well by using the tech for furniture and home purchases. These are sectors where the tech genuinely has decent application and benefit at the moment - it's a good call.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2018

    Is mobile the most disruptive force in retail since online selling began?

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Given how ingrained in most of our lives our smartphones are it's pretty much to be expected that mobile is dominating in retail. In the past you would go in a store and pay whatever they were charging for the thing you wanted. If you were savvy you might go to some other stores and see how much they were charging. Customers are now using smartphones to check prices and reviews in store on the fly. They're using them to look up what's near them before they go shopping. They're getting inspired by Instagram and social media. They're talking to retailers. They're transacting. Given the choice of using some in-store tech supplied by retailers they'd still rather use their own device for the same purpose. It's not even having your head in the sand to not be thinking about mobile in your strategy, it's being willfully blind.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2018

    Gap CEO says retailers not turning in-store data into action

    I don't see Gap as some shining example of a brand that's turning in-store data into action so his comments are interesting. However I feel retail has certainly been talking about the value and benefits of capturing in-store customer data. A lot of brands do capture that at some level. There's always a lot of talk about what could be done with it. When it comes to action we either don't see it, or if Gap is the example of it in action then clearly there's still a long way to go. I suppose the third option is that there are some brands implementing it in such a seamless and intuitive way that we don't notice it, but I'm not convinced of that. I do think he's onto something where he talks about stores and deep customer engagement though, but again a lot of retailers just pay lip service to this idea.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2018

    It’s no more ‘burn, baby, burn’ for Burberry

    I think most of us are shocked on some level by Burberry's practice of burning excess stock. Yes luxury brands thrive off the fact that not everyone wears them, and they have the right to choose where their clothes are sold, but it seems like such a wasteful practice when there's a lot more the brand could do with their excess stock. And I think customers now expect that of them, particularly younger generations who are going to be the ones that Burberry will want to buy their clothes in the future. Environmental and sustainability concerns are growing in importance for customers and Burberry needs to position itself as being a positive force with regards to that or risk being bypassed by those future customers. New luxury is about more than labels. I'd really like to see them come up with some innovative use for excess stock in the future but I guess it's a case of wait and see.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2018

    Will crowdsourced service help Walmart nail the last mile of grocery deliveries?

    There are a few different companies testing out some version of the idea of crowdsourcing delivery out to individuals according to their availability -- Uber for one, Quiqup is another. So clearly a lot of people see the potential of this idea. I wonder how this will sit alongside Walmart's own delivery services -- will those be reserved for advance bookings of delivery slots and Spark Delivery for last minute on-the-fly orders? The main thing will be for Walmart to ensure the quality and consistency of the service, and the goods, in line with that customers expect from Walmart's own drivers. What vehicles will they be using? How will they handle frozen and chilled food orders? What if there's an issue? I can certainly understand this being part of the delivery mix, but want to know more about the nuts and bolts of how it will work.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Nike campaign tests ‘all publicity is good publicity’ adage

    From a publicity perspective this has certainly got a lot of attention -- everyone is talking about Nike. Publicity is at the heart of this -- we're talking about an ad at the end of the day -- but it's more about Nike's positioning as a brand. What does it stand for? What does it believe? Where does it want to be positioned? Being authentic, having a stance, is increasingly important for differentiating brands. While its position may be polarising, Nike knows its audience -- it will have thought about what this means to them and their values. They buy into Nike for a reason and this is another extension of that. The important thing is for Nike to make sure that it is true to this position or it quickly becomes an exercise in calculated PR over authenticity.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2018

    Coca-Cola to take a run at Starbucks

    Like everyone I think this is big news. Coca-Cola is an absolute giant and it has a tonne of resources and experience at its back. Costa isn't as well known as Starbucks in Coke's home market, granted, but this is a real opportunity for the brand to grow. I want to see how Coke tackles moving into selling from its own spaces and the challenges this brings. It will also be interesting to see how this impacts its existing relationships with certain players. At the same time it could give it a really solid proposition in being able to sell complete drinks packages. I'll be watching with interest.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2018

    Walmart could have you shopping in The Matrix

    This looks like a case of Walmart hedging its bets. It makes sense for the company to be looking at the case for VR early on, identifying the opportunities and securing patents ahead of its competitors. I get the impression Walmart would rather be leading the charge than playing catch-up. Despite this I'm not sure this type of experience is going to come to light any time in the near future. To my mind the question is not so much about consumer adoption of VR and more about whether shopping via VR would be a valuable experience for customers. When do you reach the point where it's better to go through this VR experience over just visiting a store or buying online?
  • Posted on: 08/29/2018

    What questions should guide a digital transformation?

    These questions aren't a terrible place to start -- anything that gets companies having conversations and throwing out ideas is a good thing. Some companies can't start from nothing and need a bit of prompting to get the juices flowing. The big issue with digital transformation is getting total buy-in. It's no good if the whole business isn't on-board because true transformation infiltrates all parts of it. You can't just bolt a bit of social media onto one side or shove some screens in the store. Another issue is tech and digital for the sake of it. Too many retailers fall into this trap. They need to remember that these are just tools for working better, giving better experiences to customers, better experiences for staff, greater efficiencies and more. The questions a business needs to be asking itself is how it can use these tools within its specific business, for its specific challenges and clients. Doing what others are doing or halfheartedly doing it for the sake of it is pointless.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2018

    ‘Jittery’ prices will come back to hurt Amazon

    I think the more customers are aware of changing prices, the more it can impact on their buying/research habits -- to a point. For a lot of people if there's something they really want or need fast then they're probably going to be happy with Amazon's price as they want the service. But if it's a non-essential or time-sensitive purchase then a lot of people are happy to wait, to check prices and hold out for the best possible deal. The question is who wins when both consumer and retailer are willingly and knowingly playing that game? It's vital that retailers focus on more than their prices if they want to foster real customer loyalty.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2018

    Landlords add coworking spaces to drive more people to America’s malls

    Some ideas just make sense and this is one of them. Coworking spaces are a popular option for a lot of workers, malls have space and usually are well-located with lots of nearby transport connections (and parking) so why not? The set-up helps to bring a new mix of people into the mall and hopefully this will translate into higher spends in the other stores in the space. I can see that coffee shops located in malls with coworking space will do well. I am not so sure about massively changing the retail mix to suit people using the coworking spaces though -- remember these aren't just people who do work but have families, holidays, anniversary, hobbies and interests and more to buy for. I think malls should focus on having a good retail mix that's attractive for their core customer base in general.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2018

    Can AI phone tech free up M&S associates to help customers?

    As noted above the press release is a bit light on details so I'll be keen to find out more about exactly how this is going to work and of course will be watching with interest to see how things work out. It is good to see that M&S is looking to retrain and redeploy staff rather than just cutting them. I'm sure for the staff it will be a big change, but hopefully a positive one. M&S has been a bit lackluster lately and while staffing isn't the only challenge it faces I do think that the business could look at ways they could utilize these extra staff to offer a better service. Much like the new John Lewis in Westfield there are a lot of value-added extras that could be rolled out from concierge to personal stylists to food experts, etc.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2018

    Is the time ripe for Google stores?

    I think Google has been toying with the idea for a while, so it's not a huge surprise that it might become a reality. I wonder if a major driving factor is to introduce customers to the Google Home set-up and push back against the Echo. It's a really interesting thing because Amazon doesn't have physical stores, but consumers are used to going to it for shopping -- it is a retailer. Google isn't a retailer. It's products are really digital services, but it's looking at physical space to put the products enabled by those services in front of customers. Lots to unpack in the thinking. I also think the location is an interesting choice being so close to Google's area HQ. I wonder if there will be any cross-over/collaboration between them whether that's for consumers or for staff. There's definitely room for the store to target business customers, as Amazon has done in past pop-ups, as well as general consumers.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2018

    Bark barks outside the box with BarkPark

    Solid idea here from Bark. It's offering something extra to their existing customers, and creating a nice environment for new customers to meet the brand -- a positive first impression is a great way to start building a relationship. I certainly see this working as a pop-up. As a longer term, permanent idea, perhaps Bark could team up with existing spaces/parks to offer some of the benefits outlined above. Then they're not having to do everything. There are so many opportunities for retailers to reimagine what a "store" is -- or should we say physical space for interacting with brands. Retail and brand-building can happen anywhere, you just need to be creative and find the right opportunity for your brand. For sportswear brands this might be gyms and parks and athletic tracks, kitchenware brands might look to restaurants etc, furniture brands could use lobbies and hotels and offices, etc, etc.

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