“2020 Vision” is this year’s theme for NRF: Retail’s Big Show, the annual industry event that will convene in New York this Sunday. From augmented reality to artificial intelligence, and all points in between, retail is swirling with potentially game-changing trends which brands must explore in the never-ending quest to attract and retain the customer. I suspect plenty of visionaries will share their insights and future expectations for one of the business world’s most exciting—and mercurial—industries.
I’ll be there myself, along with nearly 40,000 attendees from 100 countries, to check out trends and learn more about how to help brands find their vision. As retail expands into new terrain—and as non-traditional brands begin making bolder steps into the retail business—there’s a lot of innovation to look out for at the show. Though I’m interested in all of it, I plan to focus on a few specific, compelling trends for communicators, which were highlighted in Ketchum’s end-of-2019 infographic:
1. Convenience is (still) king. Consumers desire a frictionless shopping experience, and when inconvenience rears its ugly head, they bolt. As noted by Forrester, 39 percent of grocery shoppers say they’ve left a store empty-handed due to long lines. I will follow how retailers who get convenience right grab consumers, and how brands share their experience stories.
2. Putting workers to work—as brand advocates. In our full-employment economy, the war for talent is intense. Brands who strategically invest in their people not only have happier, better-engaged employees, but develop a workplace culture that attracts other top talent. I plan to focus on how communicators can build on this momentum—to both internal and outside audiences—and give voice to highly-satisfied workers keen on promoting their brands’ values and attributes.
3. Purpose with a purpose. These days, every brand has a CSR or sustainability story to tell. But if a purpose platform seems inauthentic or out of line with its mission, audiences will tune out. I’m eager to see how CSR is evolving for brands who are committed to it as a core attribute and not just as a check-writing or check-the-box exercise. And, how those doing it right reap reputational benefits.
From employee engagement to cause campaigns, product launches to thought leadership, the world’s biggest and best retail brands continue to address unique challenges and capitalize on historic opportunities. Whether you’ll be at NRF or not, follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. I am always eager to discuss the future of retailing and how we can help reach your stakeholders.