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Three Retail Trends To Avoid in 2013


Screen shot 2013-03-20 at 6.57.19 AMRetailers today want to be something other than what they are.

This premise is illustrated by three trends:

#1 The Grass Is Always Greener Trend – Things always look better on the other side of the fence.

Many retailers have expanded products and services well-beyond their core businesses. Motivations for this are justifiable. Adding higher margin products, deli’s, self-serve, counter-seasonal products all appear to make business sense – at least initially.

As a result the lines of distinction between grocers, drug stores, convenience stores, home improvement and mass merchants have become fuzzier. Grocers are selling garden supplies (pots, soil, plants), while drug stores are selling apparel and convenience stores offer grocery staples such as milk, eggs and bananas.

#2 Identity Crisis Trend – Reinventing your brand is less painful than dealing with your brand’s shortcomings.

Microsoft stores want to be Apple stores. Best Buy doesn’t want to be bricks and mortar. Sears doesn’t want to be a retailer. JCPenney, well, they don’t want the customers they had so they pushed them out.

Take a look at today’s successful retail brands – JCrew, Burberry’s, Nordstrom for example. They embrace who they are, they excel at what they do, and as a result they have a clear brand identity. And that makes for a focused marketing proposition.

#3 Chasing Consumers Trend – Give the consumer what they want – now!

To an extent this is the hybrid of the first two trends – but worse. Not knowing what your brand stands for but wanting to be all things to all consumers. To butcher a quote by Walter Gretzky, these retailers are skating to where the puck is now rather than where it will be next.

Consumers are driving the retail bus – for sure. But any retailer who merely follows today’s trend, be it showrooming or mobile commerce will be left behind in the dust as soon as consumers jump onto the next trend.

Retailing is tough – it’s been said here many times. But those retailers following these three trends are making it more difficult than it need be.


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