What We Learned at NRF’s BIG Show 2016

The consumer journey has taken on a new form in today’s retail world. Innovative technology, new communication channels, and changing consumer demands have greatly influenced how and why we shop today. Brand marketers and retailers are taking notice.

At this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) BIG Show, 35,000 industry professionals took part in a four-day conference and expo to learn how retail is evolving. New technologies and processes were introduced to show how tomorrow’s shopping experience will be different.

NRF2016The main theme throughout the show was that experiences and engagement matter more than products or services being sold. And, how we design and deliver that experience ultimately decides if we win at retail. Imagine! listened in on some great discussions and presentations at NRF. Here’s our take:

Engagement Builds Loyalty

While there’s been a focus on defending against increased product competition from new brands entering the marketplace, a more pressing objective is for brand marketers to build a more holistic brand. Today’s consumer is asking retailers to put purpose before product and better define who they are, what they stand for, and invite them to participate. And, they’re rewarding brands who do. It’s been stated that one loyal customer is now worth eight, non-loyal customers.

Chris Sanderson of The Future Laboratory, stated how brands are becoming more than a product, but a movement or experience. An experiential purchase creates loyalty, as he pointed out how Nike and lululemon build a whole fitness movement around their brand in offering fitness and yoga sessions as part of its shopper journey. Julie Krueger, Retail Industry Director at Google, pointed out how retailers such as Target and AT&T are building on their ‘Care’ platforms by providing engaging educational and entertainment content without even asking for a purchase.

Traditional Commerce Needs Rebooting

Consumers are starving for a frictionless way to shop. With the advent of digital devices, consumers can shop anywhere and get access to information when and where they want it. Mobile devices are becoming trusted advisors as people price shop and gather more product specs, but enable a ‘distracting’ experience when in-store.

Brand marketers that are winning at-retail provide a ubiquitous online and offline experience. Digital conversations are matching in-store messaging, and those retailers that create a magical, engaged in-store experience keep people’s attention and differentiate from the competition. Pop-ups and planogram changes allow for ‘chance encounters’ and a serendipity-type approach that Chris Sanderson states is a compelling way to keep the consumer interested. He showcased how Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster successfully presents a new storefront every 25 days through local market collaborations.

Habit-Forming Products Win

There’s an underlying psychology to our shopping behavior, and brands that understand this motivation are getting us to engage products out of habit, and keep our attention. Science is trumping Art as a means to influence the shopper journey.

NRF Hook

via Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, emphasized getting to know your consumers so well that there’s not only an understanding of what they do, but why they do it. Nir suggested implementing his HOOK Canvas philosophy in understanding consumer behavior, and reminded us that good products don’t win, habit-forming products win-out.

The constant flux in consumer behavior not only affects retailers and brands alike, it influences how it’s shaping us here at Imagine! as well. As a new shopping experience takes form, retailers and brand marketers are turning to Imagine! to provide more than just print.

We’re a bold, dynamic marketing services provider with a full spectrum of services and products that can better shape your marketing programs and enhance your communication channels. Partner with us to take on the retail revolution!