Year after year, we hear about how retail is undergoing transformation and disruption, driven by everything from technology, data, and changing consumer habits to even environment and politics. Yet, I find there are some longterm trends which have taken root in recent years, which marketers can grasp onto to drive their strategies and help their brands stand out among all the noise.
- BRANDS AS DRIVERS OF CULTURE
In today’s sophisticated world of retail and shopping, consumers have such a great luxury of choice that it is no longer sufficient just to have a great product or service. Increasingly, consumers shop with their hearts as much as they do with their wallets.
Brands need to reaffirm their external positioning and be recognised by the community. To achieve this, we should look not only at the preferences of our existing consumer base, but also be in the know about what’s trending in the community, in fashion, entertainment, current affairs and viral on social media.
Only when equipped with such knowledge will marketers be able to build brands that consumers see not merely as producers of good products, but as cultural icons that one would want to follow and support.
As a sports and lifestyle brand, Skechers has organised fitness-related events such as the Friendship Walk, and recently lent its support as the title sponsor of the Skechers Sundown Festival, a mega celebration showcasing Asian music, artists and culture. Cross-genre collaborations for Skechers’ shoe launches with other pop-culture figures such as Garfield and the One Piece have also been well-received.
- EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING
While we’ve probably all established that brick and mortar isn’t actually dead, the stores that continue to stand today have something in common – being geared towards the overall customer experience People will continue to shop, but you just have to make the trip worth it. Brands need to see their stores not only as a distribution point for their products, but also a destination for customer entertainment and enjoyment. Just like an amusement park, visitors will come as long as there are interesting pull factors which they cannot get from behind the computer such as real-life interactions for every potential customer through the door.
With this in mind, Skechers has been transforming its existing storefronts into brand experience stores in Asia for more than a year. Incorporating immersive experiences for the shopper, such as activity zones and art walls, the remodelling exercise saw sales grow by more than 20% in the one-year period. In Singapore, the latest brand experience store at Jewel Changi Airport also includes features such as an interactive photo area and personalisation corner.
- BUILDING MULTI-CHANNEL TOUCH-POINTS
And yet, marketers need to look beyond the physical store and also recognise the existence of multiple touch-points along the entire sales process. Consumers today are shopping anytime and anywhere, and only by maximising leads across multiple channels, including brick and mortar, websites and social media, will brands be able to widen their net to capture attention.
- ADAPTING TO THE NEW ERA OF RETAIL MARKETING
Of these, social media has been shown to increasingly influence the shopping choices made by consumers, especially Millennials. With the advent of shopping hauls, product reviews and unboxing videos, word-of-mouth and community recommendations are poised to become a powerful sales driver that marketers will be hard-pressed to ignore.
While we seem to be swept up by winds of change in this new era of retail marketing, brands can keep steady with a stake in the ground rooted by fundamental beliefs, and progress forward unwaveringly.
The writer is Zann Lee, regional director, sales and products at Skechers Southeast Asia.