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Top Consumer Trends in 2011


I recently interviewed Andrea Sapon, a professional colorist and trend forecaster for apparel and home specializing in mainstream markets, on behalf of one of my clients. She’s a savvy trend forecaster and has provided color direction to major retail corporations. Ms. Sapon heads Color & Product Solutions.

I asked Ms. Sapon, “What’s your crystal ball say for merchants and retailers in the current year and 2012?” Her response follows:

Consumer trends are infinitely more complicated than ever  before. Two major trends have recently shifted consumers buying habits significantly, and will continue to do so.  

#1 Consumers  are acutely aware of their environmental footprint. Across all economic sectors including mainstream. Making even more impact on this trend is our economic situation. Even after economic pressures are resolved, materialism will not return to previous levels.  

#2 The new ‘bling’ is frugality and value. Fashion will continue to make an impact on consumer buying trends, but it no longer defines significant trends driving sales.

I asked, “What does that mean for merchandising, marketing & presentation?”

Sapon responded:

  • Let’s start with the product.  Your styles should provide the best value with features that work across lifestyles.  Fabrics should provide comfort, performance and be easy care.  Features and details are essential and separate what we previously thought of core styles in our lines.
  • Be sensitive to value & price.  Value is not just defined as inexpensive or cheap. Although consumers have less spending power, they are moving away from ‘throw away’ items and will continue to require more mature designed products going forward.
  • Keep the message simple and provide the details.  Make it easy for your customers to understand the features and value of your product in your marketing message whether on the web, catalog or in-store. Be accurate and timely. In-store comparison-shopping with Smartphones is on the rise.  Customers will continue to look for the best ‘deal’ when making even the smallest of purchases.
  • Merchandising across lifestyles provides opportunity to create ease of shopping in store, on the web and catalog.  Think of adjacent businesses and merchandise accordingly.  Yoga pants are no longer just for yoga.  Merchandise them with or adjacent to sportswear settings. Provide the accessories, footwear, and gear for ease of shopping while building multiple sales.  Find ways to show how products work across lifestyles through in-store displays/windows, website and marketing messages. Make the shopping experience easy.
  • Develop an excellent, knowledgeable staff through product trial, training, and incentives enhancing product knowledge, which in turn increases sales through informed staffing. Excellent customer service enhances the shopping experience and keeps them coming back, again and again.
  • Color has always played a key factor in driving sales.  Be sure to cover the basic range no matter the category.  Many businesses go for ‘fashion’ shades leaving the customer bewildered trying to replenish wardrobe core styles in core colors.
  • Sportswear color direction includes saturated yet subdued shades of berry reds, purples, graphite and mineral blue. Greens are mostly olive in shade.  Golden yellow and shades of natural woods are new neutrals.  Pinks continue to evolve in support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer and range from light and feminine to absolutely hot!  Brights are warm, cool and subdued.
  • The absolute key to color going forward that it works back to previous seasons.  Think about what goes with denim (light & dark), black, white and neutrals from cream to dark browns. Textures and patterns are inspired by natural landscapes & structures, handcrafted techniques, industrial design and natural light.  They are used freely in all materials.
  • Styles will trend toward closer to the body and fitted going forward but with the ease of stretch for comfort and relaxation. Although this is the trend, I suspect the consumer will continue to seek out comfort from eased & loose fits. Keep a pulse on your sales in this area.

Sapon summed it up with this gem, “It’s a complex world out there. Provide the best value with excellent product features and benefits, make shopping simple and build the sale by showing how to put it all together.”

If you find Sapon’s advice as on-target and insightful as I do I’d encourage you to contact her. She’s as approachable as she is knowledgeable. 

Andrea Sapon can be reached at Color & Product Solutions, or 608.695.2227.







One Comment leave one →
  1. 09/28/2011 5:59 pm

    Great stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it.

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