2016 in the rear view mirror!

As things start getting back to normal post-Christmas, I always find myself starting to reflect on the year just gone. It certainly was quite a year, with plenty happening in the wider world of politics, security and the economy. Closer to home I still find it fascinating how much media interest there is in all things retail, with the sector regularly making the headlines whether because of financial updates or retail owners and their business practices!


For us as a research business focusing on shoppers there were some really interesting changes in 2016, which might well impact on how you as brand owners or manufacturers think of the different channels you operate in.


One of the biggest changes was the impact of the move from Hi-Lo pricing policies to EDLP among the big four grocery retailers. This shift de-cluttered their stores to a certain extent, whilst also making the shopping experience a little easier as shoppers no longer need a calculator to work out the best deal out of all the POS in front of them.


Of course any drive to de-clutter can have a knock on effect of reducing the opportunities for brands to use POS to standout at fixture, but savvy brands will have spotted the greater desire among shoppers for a positive experience in-store. Shopper marketing can be a strong tool that supports category standout and understanding as well as improving overall ambience. Just look at the way seasonal events are being brought to life in-store and you can see the value of changing the ambience to drive interest – Morrisons was a great example this year, attributing strong results towards year end to a 20% uplift in Halloween sales. This need to deliver the right experiences in-store is likely to increase in 2017, and may well be the opportunity to differentiate beyond price that retailers are looking for.


Another trend that grew in strength last year was increasing use of mobile phones as part of the purchase process. 2017 may well be the tipping point when m-commerce becomes a more integral part of shopper marketing. Smartphones offer a real opportunity for brands to communicate directly with consumers, and the value of building that relationship in order to support purchasing can’t be underestimated. Generation Z – the shoppers of the future – are more open to communicating with brands via social media than their older counterparts. As they become the shoppers of the future, potential of m-commerce and s-commerce will start to be realised.


So, as always with retail we had a year of many changes. 2017 could be pretty exciting as a result.


By Danielle Pinnington, MD at Shoppercentric (www.shoppercentric.com)