Marketing and Retail: Five Trends of the “New Normal”

7 February 2022

Veronika Nedashkovskaya

Head of Content

The “new normal” is a hot topic across media channels, as we observe dramatic changes in people’s lives caused by the global pandemic. According to the State of Consumer Behavior 2021 by Raydiant, 40% of the interviewed visit physical locations less frequently, while 48% said they switched to the online alternatives of the products they used to buy in brick-and-mortar stores.

The Rocketech experts have already shared their thoughts on hybrid living based on the 2022 Trend Report published by Trend Hunter. However, there’s hardly any area of life that hasn’t been affected by the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19. While the New 2022 has not yet brought much good news, the “new normal” remains a critical concern for many business owners. We summed up the five trends in marketing and retail that can help you bring your enterprise to a new level. 

App-Powered Stores

Despite the lockdowns and restrictions, consumers still prefer offline shopping — 46% of respondents of Raydiant’s report said they would opt for the in-person experience if they had a chance. Furthermore, the most recent statistics provided by Shopify show that 54% of consumers are likely to choose a product online but purchase it in-store.

Social Retail

However, physical storefronts now face the challenge of reimagining in-store browsing to attract customers. Zoomers and younger millennials create the market demand for more advanced and sophisticated forms of experiential shopping. Take one example, the famous luxury brand Burberry opened its first social retail store. The idea is to engage visitors both in-store and online by encouraging real-time interaction with their communities. Guests enjoy augmented reality features, QR codes, and exclusive, personalized offers as a reward for active posting on social networks.

Mixed Reality

Mixed reality (MR) is an emerging tech trend that still reminds a sci-fi narrative. Microsoft, the current leader in MR development, describes it as “a blend of physical and digital worlds unlocking natural and intuitive 3D human, computer, and environmental interactions.” It’s a meeting point of advancements in computer vision, cloud computing, input systems, graphical processing, and display technologies. MR connects the virtual (VR), augmented (AR), and real worlds. 

For retailers, the technology means new ways of engaging customers, from virtual showrooms to MR in-store navigation. It will allow customers to find the right products using labels and mobile devices quickly and effortlessly. High-resolution holographic smart displays, scanners, and AR glasses can guide buyers to specific products and provide the information they need. Similar to online shops, pop-up tips in augmented reality at a physical store and next-best-action offers will be designed to raise the average check. It’s also a way to increase customer loyalty by providing the highest-level personalization.

Innovation Insights

  • Virtual try-ons 
  • Social retail stores 
  • Omnichannel airport retailers
  • Mixed reality shopping navigators

Comfort Commercial

Long COVID, tech fatigue, and extended times of self-isolation severely affected many people’s psychological well-being. People expect brands to provide comfortable and gentle communication that will help them overcome stress — aggressive advertising is unlikely to bring results for a while. The new marketing campaigns focus on inspiring and relaxing themes that, unlike last year, offer a more positive outlook for the future.

Marketing Insights

  • Expedia, the leading travel shopping platform, launched a new campaign targeting people who anticipate post-COVID travel. In the commercial All by Myself, the brand reintroduces itself as the “ultimate travel companion.”
  • For When It’s Time, the video ad made by the Extra gum brand, communicates the “comforting nostalgia of pre-pandemic life.” It depicts the near post-pandemic future and ends with the catchy ‘We could all use a fresh start.’
  • Last year, the Canadian beer brand Coors Light released a series of short virtual relaxing classes taught by grandparents, known as ‘Canada’s chill experts.’ For this project, the company collaborated with the lifestyle brand TEAMLTD. The Masters of Chill Classes recommend various relaxing activities to viewers – from knitting and fishing to lawn care and even washing their cars.

Niche DTC

The direct-to-consumer model is not a novelty itself. In a broad sense, it’s the way of communicating with the consumer directly, without intermediaries. In a classic view, companies and retailers would build and maintain their own platforms — websites, online shops, or social network pages. Now, imagine marketplaces connecting local, small businesses directly with their niche target market. 

Recently, higher-income consumer groups like Boomers and Gen Xers, have shown increased interest in particular food and beverage categories. While lockdowns affect specialty retail, ordinary marketplaces and grocery deliveries rarely offer premium-range products. The new DTC channels allow buyers to access them without violating social distance rules.

Apart from environmental friendliness and convenience, specialty DTC retailers offer their customers an additional sense of authenticity. It’s an essential element of the business strategy of luxury brands targeting affluent groups willing to pay more for high-end products.

Business Insights

  • De La Mer provides its customers with the “freshest and highest quality seafood from around the world.” It offers a selection of naturally raised, organic, and sustainably caught fish and seafood directly delivered to your door from the provider.
  • American Airlines’ Flagship Cellars launched subscription delivery of premium wines passengers usually enjoy in first class. Now the wine selection is available for at-home delivery. Moreover, by placing orders, American Airlines AAdvantage loyalty program members earn miles they can later use for regular flights.
  • Grazing Days is a “small-scale, family-owned, owner-operated farm that delivers high-quality grass-fed beef, pork, and chicken directly to customers. The owners follow strict rules of organic food production and humane treatment of animals.

Robot Retail

Despite controversies over the reduction of human-operated jobs due to the increasing automation of many business areas, the process seems irreversible. Social distancing regulations and the need for contactless services have only accelerated the process of robot systems adoption. With the current public health situation, safety remains the key concern for consumers when they leave their houses even for routine tasks like grocery shopping.

Let’s take smart shopping carts as an example. The technology is based on artificial intelligence and various sensor integrations. The carts are equipped with cameras, scales, and graphics processors and operate automatic checkout transactions through the built-in payment system. Additionally, such carts collect and analyze shopper behavior in real time and generate reports for business owners.

The next example is a robotic restaurant. There are different models to implement the technology in your business. It can be a contactless drive-through order with built-in face recognition and payment systems, where orders are packed and handed over to customers by robots. It also can be a robotic service based on QR codes and full automation or even robotic chefs. However, while contactless KFC in Moscow and Robot.He in Shanghai seem to be doing well, some skeptics say that we are not there yet for the robotic restaurant business. After all, Creator in San Francisco and Spyce in Boston had to close their doors.

Innovation Insights

  • Bookstore assistance robot
  • Contactless delivery robots
  • Contactless robotic restaurants
  • Smart shopping carts

Shoppable Experience

How often did you want to buy a trendy item in a hotel or a restaurant? Shoppable experience is the new way to articulate brands and establish close connections with customers. It’s an easily applicable idea with great potential to reshape many retail business models.

In the digital world, the concept translates into shoppable video content. Luxury brands like Ralph Lauren, Valentino, and Zimmermann launch video marketing campaigns to drive conversion. The idea is simple – as you watch the clip, you can hover over the item and add it straight to your shopping cart.

Now experiential retail also successfully penetrates the real world. The concept of shoppable hotel rooms, although not new, is on the rise. Visitors can try items in natural environments and buy the ones they want to bring home from vacation. Airbnb adopted this business idea a while ago.

Business Insights

  • Shoppable promo videos
  • Interactive shoppable cooking classes
  • Shoppable hotel rooms and rentals

Final Thoughts

The global pandemic has already affected millions of businesses. In these circumstances, executives and decision-makers have to find new, fresh, and innovative ideas to attract and retain customers. Difficult conditions have also accelerated technological development and adoption. Successful examples show that businesses affected by constant lockdowns and public health regulations can revive. And with the right idea and implementation, there’s always room for new startups.

Whether it’s enhancing your existing retail business, repurposing your target market, or launching your new project — you need a reliable tech partner to accompany you in this journey. Rocketech is always happy to hear new ideas and help our partners create valuable products. Contact us for more information.

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