You start worrying about your list in October, spend hours perusing store aisles, and end several December days with retail websites and a glass of wine. I get it: holiday shopping can be stressful. It’s always worth it, though, to see that glimmer of joy in your gift recipient’s eyes as they unwrap the Tory Burch handbag you scored a deal on or the rare Star Wars action figure you tracked down. Gift giving may not be the reason for the holiday season, but it is – for the most part – a fun byproduct of festive cheer.

For consumers, holiday shopping can be alternately a burden and an enjoyable task and it’s crucial for retailers to innovate around ways to leave consumers with the latter feeling. To begin a path to success in that regard, follow the inspiration from these four Mintel Trends:

Experience Is All

As price and convenience have been over-emphasized in retail, sellers can stand out by blurring leisure into the mix:

  • Minute Maid has opened a holiday store that has nothing to buy, but rather is an experience for kids to write letters to their parents for the holidays – while sipping complimentary orange juice, of course.
  • Samsung 837 is a retail and demo space in New York City that lets shoppers explore art, fashion, technology, and sports in a variety of ways, including VR applications.
  • Mattress brand Casper has opened a pop-up in London where weary shoppers can come in and have a nap.
  • To commemorate the 130th anniversary of Tiffany Setting engagement rings, the luxury jewelry brand has unveiled an interactive installation at its flagship Japanese store that uses digital projection technology to transform the hands of couples into animated picture books, telling a romantic story.

Access All Areas

Reach shoppers in context using mobile and GPS technology. Creating a link between the physical world and the virtual world can provide not just entertaining experiences, but seamless store navigation, content communication and deal notification as well:

  • Brazilian furniture chain Tok&Stok has brought a physical Pinterest button into its outlets, allowing shoppers to easily and intuitively add items to their boards while browsing in store.
  • In its New York City flagship location, luxury department store Barneys is using beacon technology to create a personalized experience for consumers who opt in.

Who Needs Humans?

Whether consumers are browsing in the physical world, the virtual world or some combination of the two, consider adding artificial intelligence. Different types of incredibly smart robots can now serve to streamline an experience and make it fun:

  • London shopping center Westfield has employed Alexander the Robot to read to kids and keep them occupied.
  • Walmart has been granted a patent to develop self-driving shopping carts, potentially allowing future shoppers to summon a cart to their location when needed.
  • As further explored in Mintel Trend Talking Shop, brands of all types are supplementing human customer service with chatbots to handle consumer queries efficiently, effectively and empathetically. Companies like 1-800-Flowers and Dutch retailer bol.com have recently reported successes with chatbots.

Straight to You

Procrastinators and harried people alike will appreciate a quicker ordering process with more options for delivery:

  • In the UK, Carling has launched a fridge magnet “Beer Button” that allows users to order more beer when they’re running low.
  • French supermarket Carrefour’s online shopping channel, Ooshop, partnered with Parisian running club La Parisienne to deliver some of its packages via runners during an annual three-day race.
  • In collaboration with tech start-up Flirtey, 7-Eleven has completed its first drone delivery – Slurpees included – to a customer’s home in Reno, Nevada. The legality of drone delivery is currently being assessed, with the FAA creating guidelines and researching deliveries that are conducted past the visual line of sight.

Stacy Bingle is a Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. Stacy joined Mintel in 2013 bringing with her an exciting blend of CPG, agency and marketing experience. Her time is spent traveling the US engaging clients across global CPG, Beauty and Financial Services in meaningful discussions around the consumer trends that will propel their businesses forward.

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