As we cross into the new year, brands are looking for the next leg up in the industry, hoping to uncover the most important trends that can make or break a business in 2019.
Landor, a brand consulting firm, has found what it believes are the trends every brand should act on over the next year, outlining their findings in a report titled “The Top Trends for Brands to Watch in 2019.”
Technology has always played a part in creating change for brands, and it will continue to do so next year, but Landor says that 2019 will be all about making choices with purpose.
Joaquin Villalba, co-founder and CEO of inventory optimization software firm, Nextail echoes this sentiment.
“Consumers will take on environmental and social issues through their wallets. Climate change has been a polarizing topic in 2018, with countries at an impasse about greenhouse gas emissions mitigation,” Villalba said. “Shoppers will take matters into their own hands in 2019, with more consumers factoring in a brand’s sustainability practices (from supply chain and production to the retail space itself) before making a purchase.”
Here are additional ways brands can capitalize on new opportunities to connect with consumers, according to Landor:
Find the right value proposition
Pricing polarity has taken ahold of the economy, with a greater number of brands offering either low-cost or high-end products, and Landor points out that it is better to know seize either end of the spectrum than to languish in the middle.
On the high-end, brands have begun to offer products that differentiate themselves based on the purchasing experience. For example, Gywnnie Bee, a clothing subscription service that prides itself on size inclusivity, capitalized on the un-boxing craze and now offers a “voice-activated, Alexa-enabled choose-your-own-adventure un-boxing experience” that places the consumer in the center of a story that is told with the brand’s products.
Brands like Beauty Pie, which offers “factory-cost” prices in the form of a $10 subscription box, and Target, which now sells cosmetics for as low as $2, are examples for how to succeed on the low-end, according to the report.
“In 2019, retailers will continue to evolve the shopping experience to cater more directly to the goals and mindset of consumers,” Matt Field, president and co-founder of MakerSights, said. “One example of this will be the different experiences created for chore purchases versus cherish [purchases].
Wellness will become important for every brand
In its report, Landor makes the case that all companies “from retail to real estate” should invest in wellness going forward. That can mean different things to different brands. Some companies, like Silk Inc., incorporate wellness into their business plan by helping to produce athleisure and comfort garments that dry 35 percent faster than those produced with petrochemicals. Silk Inc. shows that it is possible for wellness to become important at every level of the supply chain.
Retailers will especially benefit from a wellness sector that the Global Wellness Institute says is a $563 billion industry. For example, in 2017 Saks Fifth Avenue built a 16,000-square-foot wellness center called “The Wellery,” which gives shoppers access to amenities like a nail salon and group fitness classes, in-store.
Mixed-use retail will likely become a fixture in the industry going forward, and retailers and brands that can learn to use those spaces to work together and make wellness a part of the customer experience will likely flourish.
The sharing economy will be replaced by a subscription economy
Over the past few years, new brands have popped up thanks to the emergence of the sharing economy, creating platforms based on access versus ownership. However, Landor says that 2019 will be the year of the “subscription economy.”
“Subscriptions that provide on-demand products and services will become the norm for a growing number of sectors and products,” Landor said. “The subscription model can reframe the brand beyond the category, radically changing the business model and profoundly changing how marketers need to approach the entire product development, distribution, and go-to-market process.”
Millennials and Generation Z are much more likely to buy into subscription programs, and as they make up more of the workplace, subscription services have begun to provide access to products like luxury jewelry, cars, clothes, textbooks and even office space. Landor says that the ability to control the information and services consumers receive has become an empowering experience for users.
Make better choices regarding gender
Following the trend of consumers making more decisions based on social good, gender is becoming another outlet through which a brand can make a statement with its product and its mission. Traditional gender roles are constantly being challenged by the younger generation and Landor believes that gender will no longer be a “helpful categorization.”
“The smartest brands of the future will make gender choices deliberately and consciously, reflecting their customers and striving to be more inclusive of expanding, shifting, and fluid definitions of gender,” Landor explained in its report.
Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart marketed itself on gender equality in the last year using the hashtag #GenerationEqual and gender-conscious brands like Nununu have already started selling gender-neutral clothing options for children.
Frictionless = differentiation
When everything is made easy, from the way your coffee gets made to the way you shop for clothes, a key strategy for brands looking to differentiate themselves is to create a frictionless experience. As Landor explains, removing friction from the purchasing equation can create a positive emotional response to a brand’s product.
“While the best user experiences lead with performance and functionality, the most memorable brand experiences will take customers on an emotionally engaging journey—one that offers surprises and delights, and nurtures meaningful relationships,” Landor consultants wrote.