Trendy 2006

Discussion
Feb 02, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Understanding what’s about to be hot is often the difference between success and failure in the retailing arena, and Kenneth Hirst, president of the design firm Hirst Pacific, has some definite ideas on what’s going to be driving sales in stores and on web sites in the near-term.


Redefining brands

Brands ain’t what they used to be. According to Mr. Hirst, companies such as Ralph Lauren and Coach have expanded from fashion and accessories into other areas such as home furnishings and are, in the process, turning consumers’ purchasing decisions from “a product selection to a lifestyle choice.”


Luxury

Brand marketers such as Levi’s, says Mr. Hirst, have introduced tiered product lines to connect with consumers’ view of their own social status. Levi’s has introduced a top-of-the-line pair of jeans that competes against brands such as True Religion, Rock and Republic and other haute couture offerings in the denim category.


Aesthetics Rule

Packaged food companies have “gotten a wake-up call” and more products with innovative packaging are beginning to “pop-up and off supermarket shelves.”


Convergence

The evangelists who predicted the convergence of technologies are proving to be right, albeit late in some cases. Mr. Hirst adds: “The convergence of communication and entertainment has left electronics companies with the competitive challenge of designing the ultimate user-interface experience. The next generation will be hybrid devices that are half land-based and half portable, expanding functionality and interface quality when at home, in the office or on the street.”


Kid Geeks

Today’s kids are tech savvy and are increasingly looking to electronics to deliver both entertainment and education.


K-I-S-S

While the inner workings of the technology may become more sophisticated, consumers are looking for easy-to-use functionality in everything from cosmetic compact cases to multi-function cell phones.


Metrosexuals Unite

Guys care what they look like and that will only increase with age as they use products and engage in activities that keep them looking young.


Moderator’s Comment: Of the trends identified by Kenneth Hirst, which will have the greatest impact on retail sales in the near-term? Why?

George Anderson – Moderator

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12 Comments on "Trendy 2006"


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Michael Richmond, Ph.D.
Guest
Michael Richmond, Ph.D.
15 years 1 month ago

Wow – Innovative packaging made the list. We have seen this coming for the last few years and it gets my vote as the big one. Why, you ask? Because it enables all the other trends and helps sell the products and it makes them more convenient. How so? If you buy luxury, then you need to feel good about the presentation and the package quality, graphics and performance must be there. And look at how Apple packaged iPods! What a nice packaging execution. We get lots of positive packaging remarks for that packaging. Guy stuff is where it’s at but it has to say tough, modern and cool, so again the package makes it work. And lastly aesthetics. This one is all about the package and how it helps sell the product. Shelf Impact is critical. The package has to represent the product and it has to “jump off the shelf” but in the right way. So the answer is – The Package!”

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 1 month ago
A decent list, about what’s already happening. I agree with the point about customer service being a trend not mentioned here. Someone, in a recent thread, took us all to task for always complaining about our collective perceived need for more/better store personnel, when “obviously” retailers would be doing something about it if it really worked. I gave that a lot of thought, and think that maybe that person has a point, but I do think we’re reaching (have reached) the tipping point where shoppers are just frustrated enough to fight back and patronize stores where there is better service. I see “luxury” as the most meaningful near-term trend on Hirst’s list. The economic polarization of our society is increasingly obvious, and upscale really pays off, when done right. I see “convergence” and “kid geeks” as, um, converging, and very powerful. I disagree with K-I-S-S, because I just don’t see any sign of it happening, although I wish it would. If I still lived in NYC, I could comment about metrosexuals. But living deep in… Read more »
Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 1 month ago
The phrase “different strokes for different folks” comes to mind after reading Mr. Hirst’s thoughts. What will work and have an impact for Coach or Ralph Lauren will perhaps not resonate with consumers going to Wal-Mart or Target. The ideas, thoughts and possible trends put forth by Mr. Hirst are going to be happening over the next several years, but I don’t believe any one “trend” will be either the answer or be used by all major retailers. One thing is for certain, there are major changes that will be coming down the pike for retail. It will become change or perish. The one trend, in my humble opinion, that Mr. Hirst didn’t mention would be a greater emphasis on customer service. Most of the trends that he did discuss would be a portion of the new customer experience that a consumer would encounter in the near future, but that alone won’t keep them coming back. Remember, the customer experience is made up of both sales & customer service. Without both, the consumer, with so… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Although technology and the young are linked in this analysis, boomers are there too. A higher and higher proportion of the middle aged and above have grown up with computers. They’re open to technology changes that improve their lives and create more convenience. They use the internet daily. In the 1980’s, there were plenty of computer illiterate middle class fifty- and sixty-year olds. Today there are very few.

Peter Fader
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to trend spotting. You could have posted the same exact list 12 months ago and it would have been just as timely/relevant then as it is now. Heck, let’s post the same list again next year and it will seem just as fresh and new.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

I see a reflection of many of the discussions on this website rather than a prediction of trends. All of these items are things that are taking place, already creating headaches for manufacturers and retailers, will only accelerate, and some will be replaced next year by new “trends.” Certainly these are all challenging issues that can not be ignored. Which one is most important depends upon your industry, your products, your consumers, and how far you have come in addressing these trends so far.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Perhaps “redefining brands” strikes me as the most relevant going forward but no so much a Ralph Lauren/Coach model as the emergence of private labels/own brands and retailers’ investment in their ultimate success. H&M and Target’s short-term designer alliances are actually an outcropping of this trend. I believe that they are intended to spice up what otherwise would be a succession of murky private label presentation and they help the consumer forget, albeit momentarily, that private label domination is the end game.

Greg Coghill
Guest
Greg Coghill
15 years 1 month ago

On Redefining Brands – Ralph Lauren has been a lifestyle brand for years. Nothing new.

As far as brand extensions, what about the trend of luxury brands extending their name to lower end products (i.e. Hummer, Charmin, Target’s celeb designers, the “revival” of Milwaukee’s best).

Innovative packaging. Is this new?

Convergence. Agreed, major trend.

Kid Geeks. Agreed, major trend.

K-I-S-S. Marketers, especially in technology, would be wise to “KISS,” although I’m not counting on it.

On Metrosexuals. I agree with Warren. This is only a significant trend in major cities, and therefore not significant to the big picture of retailing in my opinion.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

I agree with Peter, Warren and Camille. Enough said. Bring on the owl and let’s examine it’s innards.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Regarding the metrosexual trend applying only to major cities…. Since relocating to Northwest Arkansas this past week, I’ve received fantastic recommendations and referrals that any gal in a new town would crave: My phone repairman told me about a super spa where he gets facials and manicures (he can’t stand how his job ruins his hands and nails) and the guy who installed my window shades (a full-time fireman and SWAT team trainer) told me where to go to get my hair done. Beyond that, I see teenage boys shopping for lotions and potions with their girlfriends no matter where my travels take me. Metrosexual is mainstream.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 1 month ago

The consumer has spoken, and brand companies as well as packaging entities have responded. Marketing does work!

As for the tech side, the young techies, and generations that grew up with video games, and then the internet, are being teased with more and more new gadgets and ways of using technology.

Boomers down to the new millennium and ‘P’genrations will make a lot of retailers happy. BUT, retailers need to monitor and engage the consumer. Nothing should be taken for granted, as the grocery industry has found out… with its non-grocery, and competitive food businesses. Hmmmmmmmm

Don Delzell
Guest
Don Delzell
15 years 1 month ago
Of those mentioned, I find lifestyle branding and convergence to have the most relevance. While absolutely NOT new in the world of branding, lifestyle and attitudinal positioning represents best practices in creating the emotional connection desired. The benefits to retailers of this shift are significant. Too often in the past, brands became identified with a specific trend interpretation, or fashion influence. A beach brand, or a disco brand, or a retro brand are examples and we can all picture them. Lifestyle and attitudinal positioning, assuming proper execution by the manufacturer, implies a greater ability to sustain the emotional connection with the customer, and to drive sales accordingly. Convergence is at the core of a great deal of disruptive innovation. The ability to combine existing yet seemingly disparate technologies or functions and in so doing address a here-to-for unarticulated need is the goal of all disruptive innovators. The technological explosion, replete with function-rich devices and software, provides an extremely fertile ground for the disruptive innovator. Yes, convergence will be extremely important.
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