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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Levin

2020 Retail Trends: What We Are Seeing Six Months In

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

At the start of the year, a number of industry trends are released. It’s important to know what experts are talking about and how brands incorporated them into their marketing and business efforts. It’s important that you identify and understand trends so you can trade with them rather than against them. Trend analysis can improve your business by helping you identify areas within your organization that are performing well, compared to areas that are underperforming. This provides valuable evidence to help inform better decision making around your longer-term strategies and determine areas in which you need to improve or incorporate. In short, knowing your industry trends allows you to have better and different business ideas to improve your user experience, grow your business and understand the needs and wants of consumers.

In 2020 there were a number of retail trends the industry was talking about. Below you will find four retail trends and how different brands within the retail industry are incorporating them into their business strategy and marketing.

Civic Marketing

Civic marketing is the ultimate customer-centric strategy. It’s where a business provides support or service within their community, and then the business potentially benefits from the favorable publicity that follows. People frequently purchase brands that make them feel good about themselves. It can humanize a brand, distinguish a business, enhance credibility and provide powerful and deeper customer connections and overall trust.

Civic marketing differs from cause marketing primarily in the brand objective. With cause marketing, the objective is to align the brand with a specific cause or non-profit organization. The good deed is often a type of fund-raising, where a monetary contribution to the cause is tied to a purchase. With civic marketing, the efforts usually do not involve fund-raising and are not necessarily provided to a non-profit organization. Customers are at the heart of product development, strategy and the heart of sales.

With civic marketing, the brand objective is to enhance the image and brand by showing that the people involved with the brand care about the needs of their communities, and are willing to give their time to help. It offers a credible way for a brand to send a “we care about people” message. It builds brand loyalty in a way that no other form of marketing can.

Planning a civic marketing campaign often begins with selecting an appropriately targeted volunteer project that will serve the strategic objective, motivate employees to participate voluntarily, and touch the hearts of the target market when they hear about the effort. Relating the product or service that the business provides to the project can make it more meaningful and motivating. The ‘tie-in’ should be clear. A building materials manufacturer helping with a Habitat for Humanity project, or the employees of a restaurant helping out in a soup kitchen, are good examples.

“We love partnering with the Ruby Room, a nonprofit organization providing formal attire to teens in financial need in Washington state. Our hairstylists carve time out of their schedules to create complimentary updos on students’ special days, boosting self-confidence and enabling them to participate in major high school milestones like prom. By hosting them individually in our salon, the students are able to schedule just as any client would and are afforded the same luxury treatment. It’s a high-touch way for us to make a difference in our local community and remind ourselves why we do what we do.” – SEVEN haircare and SEVEN salon – Bellevue, WA

Shopping By Values

Value-driven shopping is increasingly part of the retail equation. According to SONAR, Wunderman Thompson’s proprietary data tool, consumers are purchasing for values more than ever. 83% of consumers report when deciding between brands, they pick the one with a better sustainable record, and 70% are willing to pay more for products and services that help protect the environment or support fair working conditions. Consumers care just as much about the impact of brands as they do about the actual product. However, it’s not just about elevating ethics. It’s about adapting to make it easy to shop purposefully. Modern consumers are increasingly looking to brand values as a deciding factor in their path to purchase. They want ethics, a company that defends the values of what the consumer admires. company's mission is shopping by values. "I believe we are all made for more and am thrilled to witness the rapid momentum building around companies that prioritize people, profit, and the planet. Activating business as a vehicle for good, these companies strive to promote and celebrate diversity, inclusion, sustainability and substance" say Koren Nelson, Founder.

"As a designer and creative director, I have felt a chronic pressure to choose between my love for creating and an innate calling to serve. While working with Fortune 500 consumer brands, startup founders and CEOs, I quickly recognized the great influence, scale, and resources corporations have to positively impact the world. But what about the rest of us?

Millions of small business owners, solo entrepreneurs, and super-talented artisans are hungry to bring greater meaning to their work and the world around them. I believe every one of us feels the most fulfilled when we align our talents and passions with a greater purpose. I started to imagine a curated marketplace that partners each emerging brand with a non-profit organization to build social responsibility into the foundation of every brand. A community of designers, causes, and conscious consumers destined to create a better world, where each product is made for more.”

Social Me-Tail

Today’s consumers no longer want to choose between eCommerce and bricks and mortar retail, physical stores must cross over their efforts with digital integration, but only if it adds value to the customer experience.

With nearly 40% of the world’s population engaging in some form of social media, it’s no surprise that social media has revolutionized consumer behavior. According to Retail Dive, 80% of Generation Z and 74% of Millennials report that social media influences their purchases. Simply put, we are living in a ‘me-tail’ world.

Retailers need to connect with customers at a new level, a personalized level. Personalized interactions that are informed and contextualized by information gathered in real-time through mobile, social, in-store and other customer touchpoints and use this information to engage customers as a single blended experience.

According to Erin Lopez, eCommerce Growth Strategist of IV Consultancy, during 2020 "Omni-channel commerce is evolving at a hyper-rapid pace, accelerated by the new 'stay home' culture. Traditional eCommerce activities are already taking major steps and even leaps ahead, creating vast opportunities for brands and retailers to capture their audiences in deeper ways. What are some of the opportunities to watch for? New video and livestream technologies are advancing Mobile Marketing, Digital Eventing, and Customer Service. Social shopping marketplaces are changing Social Media from awareness platforms to conversion hubs. Enhanced Community platforms will be necessary considerations for the next generation of socially-forward, purpose-driven consumers. How can your company be a part of the new landscape of retail is the question brands should be asking if they are not already."

Anti-Excess Consumerism

A more conscious attitude to consumption, rising awareness of sustainability issues, and a sense of fatigue at influencers constantly pushing products are all contributing to an emerging anti-excess movement in fashion and beauty. By 2022, the second-hand clothing market is expected to become bigger than the luxury market. According to BCG, second-hand luxury sales are predicted to grow at an average yearly rate of 12%, compared to a 3% average for the traditional luxury market.

Amidst product fatigue, Millennial and generation Z are craving antidotes to our excessive consumeristic culture, with over 70% reported placing greater importance on the social and environmental impact of their purchases.

This turning away from excessive consumption also strikes with consumers becoming more skeptical of influencers’ product recommendations. In May of 2019, Drum reported that only 4% of global internet users believe what influencers say online.

Among the growing awareness of the cost of this consumption to the environment, consumers are pushing back, and brands are responding as well. Edited found that there has been a 429% rise in brands describing products as “sustainable or sustainably sourced”.

The anti-excess consumerism is even disrupting high-end department stores. Brands like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom are embracing the ‘pre-loved fashion’ with monthly subscription services.

“The overconsumption of clothing has created an environmental catastrophe, and Millennials and Gen Z want to wear a better story.” Says Nicole Robertson, Founder and CEO of Swap Society. “As they rethink consumption-as-usual, they are looking for brands that align with their values, favoring re-commerce over traditional shopping. Clothing utilization is on the decline, with the average consumer buying 60% more clothing items than they did 15 years ago, but wearing them for half as long. The younger generations are hungry for truly sustainable brands and circular fashion solutions.”


CMCollective is a growth marketing firm focused on digital marketing and strategy. We are your marketing partner who understands brands and the marketing efforts that are needed to support growth and results. We are an extension of your organization, helping you grow and meet your business needs by working with your teams to create, develop, implement and analyze result driven strategies. CMCollective specializes in Business and Marketing Strategy, Mobile App Strategy and Management, Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing, and eCommerce/Website Strategy and Management.

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