Shaping our Future

By: Chris Madden   •   email: info@trunblocked.com

Unibail-Rodamco.Westfield’s (URW) ‘How We Shop The Next Decade’ report breaks down feedback from more than 15,000 European shoppers to highlight trends for the coming years. If travel retail wants to stay ahead of its domestic rivals, what can our industry learn from these insights?

”A dynamic new era for retail.” That is how Myf Ryan Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s Group Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing describes the future.

It is a hopeful outlook, which comes off the back of the retail giant’s latest in-depth analysis of shopper trends. The results, which are tailored to the European domestic market, carry some prescient warnings for the travel retail market.

The report highlights five key ideas: a rejection of prescriptive in-store offers, the increased importance of experience, on-site diagnosis, and the necessity of both sustainability and a sense of the local.

Ryan echoes the sentiment of many others when she says the last decade has been ”turbulent”. But she says the changes are an opportunity for evolution: ”It is a period of great transformation in which retailers have the chance to rip up the rule book of old and rid themselves of outdated ways of operating in order to shape a far more efficient, effective and exciting future.”

At the top of URW’s list for ripping up the rule book is ”Anti-Prescription”. This trend foreshadows shoppers’ coming rejection of prescriptive and limited retail experiences based on inaccurate data. The future shoppers want free-range browsing and impulse opportunities, where online stores show a full range and physical outlets ”surprise and delight”.

European shoppers to highlight trends for the coming years trunblocked.

With travel retail’s current passion for curating an offer for customers, this will call for a change of mindset. As traveller profiles continue to diversify, stores cannot hope to predict what shoppers want to buy. The outlets of the future, URW says, must focus on engagement rather than just presuming to make sales.

That is further reflected in the ”Upside-Down-Retail” concept, wherein URW predicts that in 2025 more than half of retail space will be dedicated to experience.

The call for engagement is nothing new to GTR, but it cannot simply be a tick-box approach. Experience must mean something for both the shopper and the brand.

Blackjack Promotions Head of Experiential and International Operations, Fiona Rayner, explains: ” I believe the human touch will become more prominent, and together with experiential brands, will look to connect with shoppers in new and interesting ways.”

She believes that return on investment will be vital, and that requires a new outlook from both brands and retailers: ”Stores will evolve to become more than just a physical environment to sell goods. They will transform into spaces to disrupt the passenger journey.”

Stores will evolve to become more than just a physical environment trunblocked

Some of what is contained in the report does not cater directly to the travel retail environment. It is unlikely that the ”Retail Surgery” trend’s medical aspect will flourish in the GTR environment. But the point carries an interesting nugget: 31% of shoppers told URW that they would happily share their DNA with shops for a more tailored service. It highlights the data shoppers will share if they see a tangible benefit.

Meanwhile, the importance of local flavour will come as no surprise to the GTR sector. However, with 70% of shoppers telling URW they want a sense of place, it has never been more vital.

Finally, the ”Self-sustaining Store” trends predicts the rise of factory outlets where product is created on-site. It is unlikely that such a development will flourish in the space-conscious world of GTR, but it highlights the vital importance of the industry’s favourite topic of the day – sustainability.

Such sustainability will be needed to create the future, which Ryan believes physical retail needs if it is to ensure its survival.

”(It is) a future that’s more attuned to changing consumer needs,” she argues. ”A future that’s better for our planet. A future that will drive real growth to the bottom line, propelling the entire retail industry forward.”