Trends of 2016: Millennial rush, Omni-channel & Social Retailing, and 'Pace' of Retailing

The present study is based on the perceptions, buying behaviour and satisfaction of the consumers in Indian market. The Indian consumers are noted for the high degree of value orientation.
Trends of Retail 2016
Consumers today have more confidence in the economy than they've had in the past six years, and they're also more relaxed with their money. When Indian consumers do spend, they're vigilant in making sure they get the best value for their hard-earned money. Customer engagement -- which is a customer's emotional or psychological attachment to a brand, product, or company -- is the definitive predictor of business growth.
Leading retailers focus on personalized customer engagement and Omni-channel execution. Enterprises have whole departments devoted to customer experience. They’ve launched new channels, deployed new software and mapped customer journeys. Yet, for all of their efforts, most still come up short when it comes to maximizing customer value. We know that consumers can multi-task anytime and anywhere. They can connect via any device or channel. 
Effective customer engagement goes far beyond mere satisfaction. Full engagement is based on the customer’s belief that a company consistently delivers on its promises and is an ideal supplier for people like themselves. That makes them proud to identify with the brand as a loyal customer. To succeed in today’s competitive shopping world, retailers must engage their customers’ in-store and create exciting shopping experiences that ultimately influence buying behaviors and boost sales. Many retailers are using techniques like:  Market to Mobile, Design Strong digital instore Visuals, Offer multi-channel, Scan-able Codes, portable check outs etc to enhance customer engagement.
The way Indian consumers are spending their money on various items has changed in recent years. With the ever-increasing penetration of the Internet and social media, the purchasing behavior of Indian consumers has changed dramatically. Urbanization is taking place in India at a dramatic pace and is influencing the life style and buying behavior of the consumers. The present study is based on the perceptions, buying behavior and satisfaction of the consumers in Indian market. The Indian consumers are noted for the high degree of value orientation. With the ever-increasing penetration of internet and social media, the purchasing behavior of Indian consumers has changed dramatically. The Indian consumer market has higher disposable income the development of modern urban lifestyles and an increase in consumer awareness have affected buyer behavior in cities, towns and even rural areas. 
But Indian Consumers are bit different from various Asian & Western countries:
i. Consumers in India tend to be more ethnocentric than those in other countries.
ii. Indians are getting more materialistic.
iii. Consumerism is becoming a way of life in India.
iv. Change in Consumer Behavior
v. Foreign is passé; Indian is paramount.
vi. Consumers in India discount the impact of the price-quality relationship (which holds true for developed countries), as the higher inflation rate in most of those countries tends to make the majority of products’ prices relatively high. 
vii. Consumers in India tend to be less individualistic.
viii. Consumers in India are high context cultures (mainly western)
ix. Promotion of consumer products tends to have a greater impact on sales in Indian consumer
x. Consumers in India tend to exhibit higher levels of brand loyalty than other Asian countries.
xi. Consumers in India are less concerned about environment, green measures.
What we should learn from e-tailers is to react to consumer needs swiftly. They have thought us other than traditional 4Ps, 5th P is also important : Pace. Pace along with urge to innovate is key to their success. Related to this assault of etailers on retailers.
Internet retailing has been growing steadily over the past decade but still accounts for a small share of overall retailing. However, e-commerce is now poised for explosive growth on the strength of rapidly evolving consumer shopping habits and game-changing retail technology. Impacts on the traditional retail industry will be profound and far-reaching. The retail sector is finally recovering from the recession’s brutal downturn, though not uniformly. The chasm between the best- and worst-performing shopping centers continues to widen as a host of structural and cyclical forces buffet this ever-dynamic industry. Against this backdrop, retailers and landlords are facing a new set of challenges and opportunities as internet technology transforms both consumer behavior and retailing business models. Mobile commerce has arrived, with deep and pervasive impacts across the industry. With the recession’s financial strains still raw, consumers demand even more value, on top of the greater convenience they have come to expect. Retailers are rethinking the role of stores in their platform and leveraging technology to reach their customers faster, easier and cheaper. Chains are abandoning their old paradigm of “bigger and more” in favor of a leaner model of “smaller and fewer” stores as they are push more sales online.
But the real problem is not eRetailer vs Retailer – instead its Pure Retailer vs eRetailer. So, Amazon & Flipkart may not be real competition in near period but a retailer who doesn’t have eCommerce strategy will compete with competitor who ecommerce strategy as well.
Indians are still hostile to fashion adoptions. This is slow mover, though with onset of Zara, H&M, and Aeropostale things are changing but this will take some time to catch up. In a country, which is not particularly fashion forward and can sport the same fashion for 2-3 seasons, will the concept of fast fashion pick up in India. Or let’s ask by when. In any market of the world where the top three fast fashion brands co-exist, customers prefer them for these reasons: Uniqlo for slightly better quality, Zara for slightly better designs and H&M for slightly better prices. In this sense, H&M could be thought of in an advantageous position with respect to India, a cost conscious market, traditionally.
Some retailer trends for future:
In 2014, we saw more merchants venture into Omni-channel retailing and try in-store marketing solutions such as beacons to enrich the shopping experience. Next year, we anticipate stores to double down on these strategies and continue to find ways to bridge the gap between offline and digital channels.
In addition, we expect platforms such as social media and mobile to play bigger roles in people's shopping experiences.
Many retailers leveraged social to engage users and influence their merchandising decisions this year, but in 2015, we’re anticipating companies to go beyond that and use social not just to showcase products, but to actually sell them.
Millennials will be key to double digit growth for retail 2016, social media will be used doing shopping. Brands will focus more on loyalty program and CSR. Big data & experiment with technology will be key focus areas. More and more eCommerce companies will have brick & mortar strategy.
Authored by: Abhijit Das, Head of Marketing, Delhi Duty Free Pvt. Ltd.
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