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The Roaring 20s usher in Retail's big reset : TBWA, Future of Retail Report

Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit of TBWAWorldwide, has today released its Future of Retail report, leveraging insight and expertise from its global network of culture spotters to unlock opportunities for disruptive growth in the retail sector. The second in its “Future Of” series, the report explores the most urgent questions facing retail businesses as they prepare for recovery.

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Accelerated by the global pandemic, an e-commerce explosion is upon us with Nasdaq predicting that 95% of purchases will be made via e-commerce by 2040. But with 71% of consumers saying they still prefer to purchase from physical stores (source: Kearney), a complete eradication of in-real-life retail may not be the answer. Nearly 40% of retailers are expanding or creating new in-store experiences, while 74% of consumers are expecting retail to adapt to their locality, seeing physical stores expanding their role (source: Stylus).

Agathe Guerrier, chief strategy officer, TBWAWorldwide notes “We believe a new chapter of retail is upon us. As we reckon with the impact of excess and thoughtless convenience, retailers have the opportunity to carve out a better way forward. It's an exciting time." 

The report leverages cultural intelligence to unlock four opportunities for disruptive growth in retail and outlines specific ways for brands to take action — by addressing the lifecycle of retail, adoption of new technology, or disrupting the traditional buyer-to-seller relationship.   

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The four opportunities are as follows.

  1. Flex Retail: A new era of retail requires physical spaces that serve a purpose beyond shopping. The stores of the future will revitalize cities, uplift local communities, and promote circularity. 
  2. Retail’s Tech Tightrope: Next-gen retail technology will work behind the scenes to enable a seamless shopping experience. Companies can choose a more meaningful way forward through phantom tech, intelligent ordering, and sensory stores. 
  3. Networked Commerce: To survive increasingly communal commerce, brands will need to make everyone in their network an active player. Tomorrow’s retailers will strengthen relationships by engaging in direct dialogue, pivoting from influencers to educators.
  4. Lifecycle Luxury: A richer kind of luxury will put product life cycles in center focus. Looking forward, upscale eco-materials, authenticity trackers, and functionality will define the new premium. 

In addition to the four opportunities, content within Future of Retail confronts the cultural tensions at play and offers tactical solutions for a healthier era of consumption.

“Backslash’s ‘Future of Retail’ provides a global perspective on where growth will come from. Across India, for example the humble yet powerful Kirana owners have fast forward into the future. They’re challenging the rules, and reshaping the buyer-seller relationship – at speed. For the behemoths to reap rewards of this influential labyrinth, they’ll need to collaborate and drive a mutually profitable agenda,” said Satish Krishnamurthy, chief strategy officer, TBWAIndia. 

The Future of Retail was born from months of in-depth qualitative and quantitative research, strategic ideation, and collaboration among 300 Cultural Spotters across the TBWA collective. Spotters are TBWA strategists and business leads who bring expertise from their work on a range of retail companies — including some of the world’s largest fashion, technology and automotive brands.

The Future of Retail report can be downloaded here.


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