Retail Shifts
Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Retailers continually strive to connect with their target markets, using merchandising, marketing and packaging to make lasting impressions with consumers. And while there are a few consistent, timeless elements to doing good business, the landscape changes frequently for sellers. As a result, retailers consistently fine-tune their marketing approaches by understanding demographics and the variables that influence consumer decision-making.

Looking at consumer markets today yields a very different picture than the one seen only five years ago. For starters, the age demographic skews younger than it did then, as a result of baby boomers aging-out of many consumer markets. And with younger consumers on board, the shift reflects prevailing technology that wasn’t even part of the conversation five years ago.

To stay ahead of retail trends and demographic shifts, it pays to compare and contrast historical markets with those you are operating in today. Even short-term differences become visible under scrutiny, like the contrasts between today’s consumer environment and demographic traits seen a half-decade ago.

Savvy Consumers

Information is at the heart of consumerism, enabling shoppers to compare and contrast product features and seek out the best deals available. Google does a great job defining this process as the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT.

And since today’s prime earners and spenders have experienced most of their lives in a hyper-connected world, where information is a few clicks away, they are accustomed to making highly-informed consumer decisions. Even packaging trends illustrate a thirst for knowledge, favoring options that contain lots of brand and product information.

Effective retailing accounts for savvy new consumers by furnishing exactly what today’s younger demographic demands: The whole story about your goods and services.

Fortunately, there are more ways available than ever before to share your organizational message, so as long as you connect with savvy consumers on their terms, sales will follow.

Branding is Essential

While information technology furnishes numerous advantages for businesses, today’s communications environment inundates consumers with countless messages daily. It is easy for individual products to get lost among all the noise, so the concept of branding has taken-off as a solution to the fleeting impact of hit-and-miss marketing efforts. Establishing your brand as a trusted resource, for example, creates relationships with consumers that lead to repeat sales.

To be most effective reaching modern consumers, each aspect of an organization’s branding strategy must link to the next, creating continuity and trust among consumers. By utilizing marketing that ties-in with social media, for example, retailers reinforce their brand in a way today’s tech-savvy demographic relates to.

Social Networking

Generation X’ers currently occupy the prime earning and spending position, so their habits are of particular interest to retailers. The generation grew up with computers and internet access, so they are networkers by nature. Formalizing these connections through social media channels gives today’s consumer demographic even more power, because feedback and testimonials are only a click away.

Always subject to review, retailers are forced to raise their standards in order to stay competitive. Savvy sellers use high levels of customer service, loyalty programs, and special promotions to stimulate goodwill and engender loyalty among Generation X consumers, who openly share their experiences on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other social media platforms. Retailers need to be prepared to respond on these platforms in real-time to any and all comments, good or bad.

Today’s unique retail landscape is very different than the prevailing terrain present five years ago. More than ever before, retailers strive to project cohesive brand and product images that support sales and marketing goals. They use social media and other channels to connect with consumers on a personal level, making inroads in familiar ways, on consumers’ terms.

To quench shoppers’ thirst for information, successful retailers establish continuity using consistent marketing, packaging, and merchandising to spread their messages.