Tanya Lawler, VP Marketplaces, eBay
There’s no doubt that the world of retail is undergoing a huge period of change. Throughout this change, one thing has stayed the same: the need to put our customer at the heart of the experience. What has changed is the customer - for one thing, they’re more demanding than ever before. Shoppers want convenience, speed and choice – they want to shop anytime, anywhere, on any device. They want cheaper and faster shipping, better returns, improved customer service, and endless selection. These may seem like the basics of digital commerce, but the bar has been set high, and it is still rising.
Shoppers are in charge and retailers have to respond, to innovate and to embrace mobile and other technologies in order to deeply engage their consumers. This anytime, anywhere, mobile, local and global shopping experience has in the last year become the norm. It’s what consumers expect and what we at eBay call ‘utility shopping’. It’s the bread and butter of omnichannel and multichannel directors. It’s hard, but it’s not enough.
Brands and retailers need the tools and platforms to respond to this change and to deliver the seamless shopping experience customers now expect. At eBay, our heritage as a technology company enables us to innovate quickly. For many retailers that’s a challenge – the ability to move at pace, particularly with technology. Innovation is part of eBay’s DNA, in fact, we’re starting to see our power to innovate as a competitive advantage in itself, one which our retail partners value in their relationships with us.
We know that shoppers also want to discover great new products, to be inspired, so we have to go beyond utility and engage them. It’s what traditional retailers do every day: provide a great browsable, inspiring experience. But how does this translate online? An entirely new category of digital shopping has emerged, in just the last year. This is shopping through browsing, inspiration, and even entertainment. It is less about fulfilling a mission – a need – and more about fulfilling passion, a want or a “love”. Shoppers are increasingly using different touch points to fulfil these different purposes and we’re seeing new patterns of consumer behaviour emerging among mobile shoppers, e.g. ‘snacking’ during the day on a smartphone (mission shopping), while tablet is a more ‘lean back’ experience (browsing / engagement). It is about being inspired, and about the joy and serendipity that often comes from physically shopping in stores.
It’s why at eBay we have had to become more like a retailer. We have hired a team with retail capabilities; right now we have a team of over 150, many of whom are hired from a retail background, we’ve added skills to our account management such as inventory planning, commercial retail planning and retail marketing. A prime example of how eBay is innovating to engage with shoppers is the launch of The Feed earlier this year – a new way to curate a personal shopping experience, making inspiration instantly shoppable. When shoppers see something they like, they can buy immediately, and they can continue fine-tuning their Feed so it becomes more customised and personal.
I think we all recognise brands performing strongly at both ends of the spectrum. What’s harder is reaching the sweet spot in the middle. It’s something eBay is going after and I think that it’s an area of opportunity for everyone. The sweet spot is the combination of the “things I want” and the “things I need”. A traditional omnichannel retail mindset will not deliver this sweet spot and neither will a breakout ecommerce mindset. What’s ahead requires new solutions; new approaches, a new way of thinking about retail and a new way of engaging consumers, who are in charge more now than ever before.
The key to making all of this happen is combining the best of on and offline. Together, retailers, brands and partners can win in this commerce revolution.
As summer approaches, Virgin Media has collaborated with Esprit Digital to offer a POS screen experience that won't be compromised by direct sunlight. A key player in the delivery of high speed broadband, TV and telephony, Virgin Media is the first retail brand in the UK to install digital screens that can be viewed in all light conditions throughout their estate. The first screens, situated in their Oxford Street store, ensure consumers will not experience any viewing difficulties through exterior shop windows in ambient sunlight. Past consumer problems associated with the sun's trajectory include the inability to read ATM screens and 'bleaching' of POS units through light interference.
In the last 12 months Virgin Media has introduced a number of in-store interactive touchscreen video walls to allow customers to browse and compare the options available. The success of using digital media within the stores was extended to store windows and, following a successful trial, 2014 will see a nationwide roll-out of digital screens in every VM store.
Paul Williams, Retail Director for Virgin Media said: ‘We’re delighted to be the first retailer to fully embrace this technology. These bespoke screens from Esprit are a key part of our strategy to attract new customers and drive them into our stores. The brightness and clarity are excellent.’
Peter Livesey, MD of Esprit Digital, said: ‘It has been a pleasure working with Virgin on this project. They had a very clear understanding of what they wanted to achieve and our new high bright screens in customised enclosures have gone down really well with both their staff and their customers. The UK roll-out will be finished this month and I am sure other retailers will be watching closely.’
Fraudulent use of stolen credit cards, the biggest area of online loss, is down by 8% since last year, a leading industry survey has revealed.
Published by Retail Knowledge and sponsored by payment experts Kount, the UK Retail Fraud Survey 2014, now in its fourth year, is the most extensive report into the systems, processes and strategies of 100 of the UK’s top retailers.
The results of the survey have shown online fraud prevention spend has increased from 0.3% of sales in 2012 and 0.4% in 2013, to 0.43% this year. As a result there has been a major decrease in shrink in online credit card fraud from 51% in 2013 to 43% in 2014. This is a decrease of 8% from last year’s figure.
This link between increased spend and reduced online credit card fraud shows just how the industry is recognising the importance of online fraud prevention.
Don Bush from Kount, the UK Retail Fraud Survey sponsor stresses the growing importance of online fraud prevention: “Ecommerce grew a healthy 18% in 2013, cybercrime grew at about 23% in the same period which greatly emphasises the need for a robust online loss prevention strategy.”
He added: “Detecting, preventing and managing fraud is a full time vocation and getting the people, processes and technology right to beat fraud is crucial.”
Despite this decrease however, it’s not all-great news; many of the other areas of online loss have seen an increase in shrink since last year:
· Third party fraud payments rank next at 15% of shrinkage, an increase of 4% since last year.
· Accounting for 13% of loss is card testing which has seen an increase of 3%.
· Friendly fraud has seen no change since last year and remains at 9%.
· The online channel proves much more difficult for employees to steal through. Internal fraud online is much lower than employee theft from stores, as physical access to products is limited to warehouse staff only
Other findings show that most retailers still treat store and online loss prevention separately. However, employees, customers and fraudsters do not make this distinction. Retailers expect online sales to increase from 12% currently to 31% of total business over the next three years. As this happens, an adoption of an increasingly joined up philosophy to all loss prevention, store and online, will be crucial.
For more details on the UK Retail Fraud Survey 2014’s key findings see the attached Executive Summary.
Helen Roberts, Retail Research Director at GfK
Do we shop the same way as we used to? In today’s world consumers are cautious with their spending, time-poor and internet-connected, so you would think they spend less time shopping. Research from GfK suggests that shopping is still an important part of people’s lives, we just have increasing expectations of being able to shop on our own terms. Here we look at how shopper behaviour is adapting to the new world, how digital is impacting that behaviour and the implications for department stores.
We used to go window-shopping, with no intention to buy, just browsing for ideas and inspiration, or dreaming of what we would purchase if we had more money. It seems that an apparently similar – if not more mercenary trend - has now emerged that is a challenge to all stores, and particularly for department stores.
Department stores typically carry a good range across multiple brands. Products are on accessible display allowing shoppers to touch, test, try out or try on. Usually there is a helpful, knowledgeable member of store staff on hand to provide more information and advice, as well as answer specific questions. The trouble is these shoppers have no intention of actually making a purchase as they are doing what has become known as showrooming.
Currently only around one in five people admit to going to a shop simply to look at a product they intend to buy elsewhere, typically online. However, GfK’s research shows that half of all consumers will adopt this behaviour in the coming 12 months. So showrooming is here to stay and something that department stores need to adapt to.
Shoppers have a mixed emotional response to it, some just perceive it as progress, though one in four recognise it’s good for them but not for stores. 12% admit to feeling guilty, acknowledging that it’s unfair to the stores, though in contrast 15% ‘feel clever’ because they are managing to get a better deal through showrooming.
Stores that perform strongly in the omnichannel environment and are price competitive do not necessarily have anything to fear from this trend. For department stores to maximise showrooming they need to have a strong online presence (simple website, search strategy etc.), good value proposition (such as a price match) and great customer service (flexible delivery options, warranty and no quibble returns etc.).
Department stores must be omnichannel to compete
As we’ve seen, today’s purchase journeys are increasingly multi-channel, with most people browsing online as well as visiting stores. But it’s not a black and white journey, where shoppers neatly step from one channel to another, rather it is a blending and merging of channels with shoppers increasingly using online channels whilst in-store. Almost half of those with a smartphone or tablet have used them whilst out shopping. Checking prices, looking for alternatives, sending photos of products to friends or family are some of the main activities, all illustrating the transparent shopping world we are in.
Department stores are embracing this technology, with some providing access in store to their online catalogue and/or ordering service. Free wifi makes it easier for people to look at competitor offers whilst shopping. Making it easy for people to shop elsewhere may seem counter-intuitive, but remember in the ‘good old days’ when a helpful assistant would tell you where you could buy an item you wanted that their store didn’t sell? This made you feel good about that store and increased your likelihood to shop there in the future. Consider easy omnichannel shopping as the digital version of this.
A convenient world
At GfK we’ve observed how changing shopper behaviours and attitudes are driven by the desire for convenience, and this has led to the introduction of convenient and efficient ways of delivering products to our homes.
Companies like Next redefined the ‘norm’ in terms of delivery standards, and retailers have had to up their game in response. Shoppers are generally less concerned about rapid delivery, and more interested in a convenient named delivery date. More retailers now offer a two-hour delivery slot or use courier companies that estimate a delivery time so people don’t have to wait in all day.
And who could have anticipated the popularity of Click and Collect delivery, offered by many department stores? It is interesting how this option has grown in popularity, despite being apparently counter-intuitive. After all, if you are going to travel to the store to collect, you could have bought it there in the first place instead of online.
Value continues to be key – and department stores can win here
In the early days of the recession shoppers bought ‘cheap’, opting for discounter brands and products that were the lowest priced. However, we have seen a shift in behaviour with the focus now firmly on value. Shoppers look for the best value for money, which of course isn’t always the cheapest. ‘Good quality at good prices’ is now a priority.
This bodes well for department stores and plays to their reputation for quality products and customer-focused service. Provided the prices are competitive with other retailers, there is a real opportunity to provide the value proposition that shoppers require.
Ben Chesser, Founder, Footfall123
Ben Chesser, founder of Footfall123, explains what retailers can learn from this year’s trends in loyalty marketing, and how technology will help them to manage successful programmes that maximise opportunities, drive footfall and boost sales in 2014.
Offline stores have traditionally lagged behind the online retailers in the way they gather and use customer data. However, the development of loyalty marketing technology has allowed retailers of all sizes and sectors, whether an independent store or a multi-outlet department store, to easily and effectively launch and track campaigns to boost loyalty. By communicating with consumers online, and in particular, via mobile technology, retailers are now managing targeted, bespoke loyalty programmes that are delivering significant ROI.
2013 saw a definite trend emerging in the way that retailers utilise loyalty programmes. There has been a shift away from the money-off incentives that we have previously seen and the ‘Groupon’ effect that can potentially damage brand value, towards increasingly sophisticated rewards that offer tailored privileges to valued customers. Loyalty is becoming more bespoke; it’s not a broad brush, it’s about rewarding customers by going above and beyond rather than just discounting their usual shopping activity. Technology plays an important part in this as it allows us to capture relevant data such as demographic and preferences. During the last year we have seen an evolution in the way that businesses are using this information. By categorising shoppers by spend and types of product bought, businesses were able to introduce a more personal loyalty programme tailored to their needs.
Another progression in the sector is that of the tiered rewards system; something we believe will become more widespread in 2014. Rather than just offering points, retailers tailor VIP rewards for their best customers in order to show appreciation and keep them loyal. We will continue to see this movement towards privilege-based schemes with stores offering key consumers something extra, from personal shopping and exclusive events to assistance carrying their bags.
The development of new technology has also meant that loyalty systems can now be integrated with store marketing, including linking with cards, emails and SMS to push these targeted rewards. Programmes need to run seamlessly with existing systems and be easily accessible to marketing departments to allow them to update and push relevant and timely offers. Industry pressures mean that a slick user interface is key for businesses using data in real-time for intelligent communication. This is especially useful for the department store managing multiple brands and concessions under one roof. We have seen success here in 2013 with the launch of the Kudos app in Hammerson shopping centres such as Highcross, Leicester and The Oracle, Reading. This type of loyalty programme, managed through a mobile app, has enabled a hundred different retailers to launch their promotions in real-time. We predict we will see more of this within the department store sector in 2014, with this technology enabling the configuration of offers by brand and department.
It goes without say that the training of shop-floor staff is key to the success of loyalty schemes. Retailers in store have a unique opportunity to interact with their customers face to face; they should be consistently selling the merits of the scheme to customers and must have a thorough understanding of the offers and how they work. This is especially important at Christmas. Signing up customers who may only visit at this time of year and capturing their data will enable stores to market to them during January and February, encouraging them with relevant promotions that will entice them back to form new shopping habits and build relationships in 2014.
There’s been a lot of negativity in the media this year with talk of the ‘death of the high street’ but we are in fact set for the busiest Christmas in five years. On-line sales actually only account for 9.7%* of sales so, yes, the high street is under pressure but it is certainly not going to die. What is essential is for retailers to apply best practices from online selling to bricks and mortar. Loyalty marketing helps stores to do this by capturing the same kinds of data and contact details and using them to track, target and reward their customers. 2013 has seen a huge growth in ‘click and collect’ services which involve customers ordering online but entering stores to receive their goods and retailers should take advantage of this unique opportunity by rewarding them for their visit. We are also often asked if plastic loyalty cards will soon be unnecessary. Loyalty marketing is about being inclusive, giving consumers choices based on their preferences so it is important that retailers allow people to choose how they redeem offers; a combination of smartphone apps and the more traditional plastic loyalty cards will shape the future of loyalty marketing.
Clare Rayner, Founder, The Retail Champion
Over the past couple of years we’ve heard so much about the high street – and it’s been all rather gloomy reading. In 2013 we’ve seen Mary Portas throw down the gauntlet to Bill Grimsey – he berated her review during a live Q&A session at the “Retail Week Live” conference and she challenged him to do better – and so we’ve seen the publication of yet another review of the high street. Personally I would not say its any better, it has more detail, but it’s still just a document, which, like many that have gone before it, may simply gather dust in a Whitehall filing cabinet.
The real issue is that, so far, this has all been talk - politics and posturing. The government has done little to comprehensively respond to 28 solid recommendations in the Portas review that they notably commissioned. Grimsey’s review is unlikely to have impact either, unlike Portas’ work, his wasn’t even commissioned! If they don’t take heed of the review they asked for I can’t see an unsolicited document aiding the transformation of our high streets. The fact is we’ve seen very little real action and we have heard too few good-news stories. If we left the future of our high streets to the press and the politicians they would be consigned to the history books and we’d all be expected to call that progress...
Thankfully though in numerous towns and village centres all over the UK businesses have decided enough is enough and are fighting back. Yes the OLD high street of yesteryear may well be dead / dying but in its place we are seeing the emergence of a NEW kind of high street.
This evolving high street is one that is adapting and responding to the ever changing demands of the modern consumer. Time poor, tech savvy, the evolving high street is developing an offering that provides them with an experience that blurs the lines between the virtual and physical, offers an immersive and engaging experience and most importantly encourages social connectedness – again in person or online.
The new consumer doesn’t understand terms like multi-channel or omni-channel and doesn’t need to – it’s the businesses who serve them who have the duty to understand their current needs and predict their future needs and it’s those businesses that are shaping the future of the high street.
In communities (be they towns or villages) where the businesses are working together, supported by all the relevant local stakeholders (Mary Portas’ vision of a “town team”) the most significant improvements in high street performance are being seen.
Examples of success have included schemes to breathe new life into declining markets, to embrace digital innovation with town centre loyalty schemes and marketing apps, and to turn empty shops into good use that add both social and commercial value.
The fact is that there are numerous opportunities for our high streets and the businesses within them – they are only limited by their own imaginations. The route to regeneration is relatively straightforward – when businesses and town centres focus entirely on the customer, on the community that they exist to serve, and then they can evolve to provide the right offering – a balance of retail, services and leisure.
Town teams, my personal favourite recommendation from the Portas review, are a fantastic way to achieve change within towns and communities. Comprised of various local stakeholders, town teams work in the interest of the community to deliver the changes that will help reconnect local consumers with local businesses and over time will help to restore the footfall, and sales, to the high street.
I’m passionate about the future for retail (in the widest context of all consumer facing businesses) in our communities and our high streets. I’m sick of hearing all the negative talk and seeing limited action. As a result I created a new event, the Future High Street Summit. Some 150 people who share the belief that there can be a positive future for our high streets came together to hear from the likes of Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Local Government and High Streets & Chair of Government's Future High Street Forum, Martin Blackwell, CEO of Association of Town and City Management, Neil McInroy, CEO of Centre for Local and Economic Strategies, Chris Wade, CEO of Action for Market Towns and many more.
I sincerely hope that by bringing together all those who have success stories to share it will be possible to inspired many other areas to take their lead and to implement some of the simple, effective solutions which have been proven to turn the tide on high street decline and aid in the metamorphosis of the Great British High Street.
William Jones, BHETA
Understanding and, better still predicting the trends is an essential skill in any market place. In the housewares sector, just as 2013 saw the industry deal with yet another challenging year, 2014 is predicted to herald the start of better times. So whether manufacturers and distributors are trend drivers or followers, taking account of consumer thinking will make all the difference between success and failure.
Against persistently low consumer confidence, increasing costs, retailers having to ask for yet more improvements in payment terms and challenges for manufacturers and distributors such as the imposition of Anti Dumping Duties, there are nevertheless some significant trend opportunities for those in a position – or mindset – to embrace them.
Success today is all to do with the ability to innovate and to exploit (and ideally, drive) trends. For example, the continued popularity of home baking and adjacent categories has had a tremendously positive impact on the industry and shows no sign of running out of steam. It has been picked up on by the media who support it via a whole host of TV shows and publications and this support will continue to grow the market and stimulate a new generation into the kitchen, irrespective of economic conditions.
Another opportunity is internet retailing. While internet retailing may be a threat to some in the High Street, it is also a great opportunity for UK manufacturers and distributors to continue to grow, especially in cooking, baking and utensils. For enlightened retailers also, the trend towards internet research, in store trial and finally internet purchase and delivery can be turned very much to good.
Following trends is one thing, but many positive developments in the housewares market are the result of work by companies who have created and driven trends. In particular, by continuing to innovate and stimulate the market with functional products which are also design-led. BHETA’s trend advice which can be sourced via BHETA forums or on the BHETA website can be a real benefit in this context. Trend advice covering all aspects of consumer inspiration is available and members who have attended BHETA forums have been able to enjoy the benefits of personal trend presentations by trend experts like Scarlet Opus, a company which can also tailor its expertise to the needs of individual member companies if desired.
From a housewares manufacturing and distribution point of view, another important trend is the new focus not only on core sales channels, but also new business development and especially export opportunities. One of the key trends for BHETA these days is the drive for export and the organisation has responded with key territory information covering Europe, China and the American continent, international exhibition support and international ‘meet the buyer’ events planned for 2014.
In fact, the meet the buyer concept in itself – domestic or international – is illustrative of another new trend: the acknowledgement from buyers that traditional supplier meetings may be insufficient on their own these days in the quest to find the new products that will really stimulate the market. BHETA pioneered the meet the buyers concept – a kind of speed dating for the presentation of new products or new merchandising ideas to retail buyers in 20 minute timeslots – and the idea is paying off for all parties. One significant retailer who will be working with BHETA on the principle in 2014 is Lakeland with other big players to follow as the year unfolds. These events – available to all BHETA members - provide a unique opportunity for housewares and DIY suppliers to interact with a major retailer outside of the usual buying channels.
Working with the co-operative opportunities that BHETA can provide, illustrates that there are opportunities in the market that are progressive and exciting. The secret today for all parties in the market is forging ahead with new ideas designed to provide suppliers and retailers with co-operative inspiration.
Melissa Moylan, Creative Director, Fashion Snoops
While customers are confronted with a never-ending roster of trends at any given time, it is worth noting which ones have proven commercial success to move forward in 2014. At first glance it may appear all too familiar, however, in an increasingly crowded and challenging marketplace, considering popular themes and bestsellers to determine what's next is a wise decision. That said, it is increasingly important to update trends and provide the right amount of newness to stay ahead of the curve.
One of the most obvious themes for Spring 14 is Phys Ed, which implies athletic inspiration in everyday sportswear. A longstanding pattern trend - color blocking - is an obvious and quite commercial expression, which has been met with much success. While many high street retailers have already keyed into sport influence, Phys Ed becomes even more promising for Spring 14, with luxury designers like Gucci pushing the point. While there have been some sightings of basketball and boxing, the reference is mostly realized without a specific sport in mind, lending a casual sense with greater adaptability to the womenswear market. An advanced material offering includes transparency via technical mesh and perforated fabrics. We've already seen the sweatshirt become a must-have item with updates including new material applications like leather. Spring 14 elevates the bomber jacket as a favorite, while track pants are a strong option for bottoms. Zipper trim combines the elements of function and design as a highlighted detail.
Fashion tends to have a thing for the past, with every season featuring at least one decade of design influence. In recent memory, the 60s and 70s enjoyed a moment, but we're already onto the next big decade revival - the 90s. Grunge ended up being quite a controversial theme when it first appeared in Hedi Slimane's critically panned Saint Laurent collection for Fall 13. As it so happened, the infamous collection, which recalled the days of Kurt Cobain, sold out at retailers at the luxury level. Components of the grunge look such as tartan plaids, dark florals and biker jackets were heavily layered, making for numerous commercial interpretations in the mid and mass markets.
Fast forward to Spring 14 and a different 90s nostalgia is at work - streetwear. Recalling the days of R&B group TLC, designers including DKNY, Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone all frequented the look. The layering components that were introduced with grunge stick around, while silhouettes like cropped tops make a greater impact. A soft color palette and infusion of minimalist sportswear create a fresh new approach to the 90s and appeal to the young contemporary market.
Androgyny dominated Fall 13 collections, driving menswear patterns to the forefront. Retail favorites included plaid, houndstooth and windowpane checks, while tailored styling was inherent. Minimalism is another popular reference which offers a parallel to the tomboy look. Both are at play with a White Collar theme for Spring 14. Geared for the young contemporary market, designers from BCBG to Altuzarra explored the notion of "shirt dressing," interpreting the men's classic with new updates like the shirt dress. Considering that traditional materials like cotton shirting, chambray and ticking stripes are applied, mixed media construction plays a pivotal role in providing styling updates.
IN THE RED
Red remains a power player heading into 2014. As a staple shade that carries over from last year, the strong presence of red has already achieved commercial success in shades of cherry, crimson and wine. A vibrant shade of poppy is a must-have for Spring 14, while a darker tone of ruby provides a trans-seasonal alternative. Red is realized in virtually all product classifications, which further explains its popularity and appeal.
Speaking of trans-seasonal trends, leather continues forward in Spring 14 collections. Its dominance in recent seasons leads us to look at the fabric as a new classic. Leather extends well beyond biker jackets, landing on everything from pants to tops and dresses, regardless of season. Metallics are another trans-seasonal fabric for Spring 14, ranging from lame to brocade. While traditionally reserved for Fall, part of the allure is the combination of metallics set to regal dark tones.
Transparency is still a big deal when it comes to fabrics. While sheer materials naturally sit well for Spring and Summer, the popularity of lace has been proven season in and out. Other transparent fabrics include chiffon, organza and novelty openwork. It should also be noted that mesh and perforated materials are of increasing importance due to the recurring athletic slant.
A COLORFUL CANVAS: AVANT POP
While many trends in 2014 get a head start based on familiar stories and proven commercial success from last year, Avant Pop offers a fresh start. A strong force of luxury brands tap into what looks to become one of the newest thematic references. Karl Lagerfeld presented an actual gallery setting for Chanel's Spring 14 show, while the clothes took on various art forms, from multicolored paint chart patterns to artistic tweed hybrids. Celine took a more abstract approach, while Prada featured literal takes on muralists with vivid face imagery. Surrealism was also explored, while print mixing and pop color blocking offer a more familiar translation for retailers. In comparison to the aforementioned trends, it appears that the great art vs. fashion debate provides a new path of thematic exploration, offering something new we could all get behind in 2014.
Jason Hall, Director, Stylesight
As women are leaning in and taking charge, men remain at odds with their identity. There's a shift in gender roles and attitudes, along with a new mind-set, questioning what it means to be a man today. Less defined roles of masculinity are a welcome change to some men who see it as an opportunity to expand who they are; meanwhile others are unsure how to define themselves in an era when men are expected to provide for their families, share household duties, and childcare. Men want to hold on to traditional signifiers of power and masculinity while adapting to increasing gender equality.
These expectations resemble more the way women have had to juggle and balance responsibilities. As the role of men starts to become less defined, they are searching for an identity that they can embrace. What’s clear is that the traditional definitions of manhood are no longer relevant. So, what does it mean to be a man today?
Three out of 4 men agree that men and women don't need to conform to traditional roles and behaviours anymore. - JWT report
Perhaps this is the rational behind S/S14’s floral trend. Designers explored a variety of botanical prints mainly on white or dark navy backgrounds. This Garden variety included a style that was studied and illustrative as well as tropical. Previously florals would have been classified as a feminine print, however that restraint seems to have been lifted with this “new masculinity” in mind. We see floral prints appearing on chino fabric as the perfect merging of the masculine and feminine.
There’s an opportunity for retailers to engage with men about what it means to be stylish, or offer helpful tips and advice in making good sartorial choices. Educating the consumer seems to be more important than ever before through in store displays and marketing.
Men’s style evolution has been on-going for the past 15 years. Men no longer accept casual Friday khakis as the uniform for work and a recent report in the UK revealed that men are buying more shoes than women. Men are investing in clothing, skincare and even designer tattoos. Whether it’s pressure from a competitive job market or the fact that our lives are constantly being documented on social media, men are realizing that looking good is part of the entire package.
Nothing says grown up like a man in a suit. Men are recognizing that dressing like an adult has value - the suit reflects the desire to return to a specific vision of masculinity. It’s about embracing responsibility and showing the world that this is someone to be taken seriously.
For S/S14 the suit appears in the widest array to fit the needs of the customer. Looking fresh, we see relaxed tailoring as the most approachable style. Unconstructed shoulders, wide trousers, and lightweight fabrics direct this look. Perhaps this is the most approachable style for those who aren’t in the habit of wearing restrictive tailored clothing.
The idea of looking the part has never been more prevalent; it’s important to represent the person you see yourself as - and want to become.
This desire stems from current societal shifts: the economic downturn and the anaemic job market makes employed men more concerned about keeping their jobs and part of that is dressing as someone who is together and in charge. Even men in the tech industry - clad in a sweatshirt and jeans uniform - are starting to dress in a more refined manner that’s fitting of the deals they are making and the money they are generating.
Jaana Jätyri, Trendstop
Trendstop trend experts provide their tips on how to achieve buying success in the kidswear sector this year.
“There is continuing growth in the childrenswear market for trend-savvy retailers,” says trend forecaster and Trendstop founder Jaana Jätyri The London based agency’s kidswear experts have taken a look back at the key factors that influenced the childrenswear market in 2013 and at the emerging trends influencing the kids' market over the next 12 months.
The UK childrenswear market continued to grow modestly in 2013, ending the year at £5.6 billion compared to £5.5bn in 2012. (Euromonitor 2013) Trendstop has predicted that this trend is set to continue for smart brands and retailers, with the industry’s retail value estimated to rise to £5.9 billion by 2017. Growth in the childrenswear sector can be attributed to social factors, such as a rapidly increasing birth rate, coupled with the fact that a growing number of parents are having children later in life when they are more financially stable and able to afford higher-priced premium products to dress their children. Plus, the baby boomers are forming a group of grandparents with the combined largest disposable income in the history for their age category. When even parents with average means typically put children's apparel ahead of their own, kidswear is set for further growth from many prospective purchasers. Jaana Jätyri comments, “there is a lot of money to be made from kidswear in the coming years, but as the competition increases and the consumer becomes increasingly discerning and trend aware, the winners will be those brands that combine better quality, design, trend consciousness, ethical awareness, safety and overall value than their competitors.”
Trendstop’s globally sourced research indicates a number of style and trend driven influences impacting on the increased spending on childrenswear. One of these factors is the increasing level of trend awareness among the fashion consumers – including parents and relatives – who are purchasing childrenswear. Children themselves are also becoming increasingly trend-savvy, demanding the latest fashion looks to fit in with their peers.
The increase in high-end products introduced in the childrenswear sector has emphasized the trend-led nature of the current market, as demonstrated by the growing number of kids' lines launched by luxury labels. Where most designer brands didn’t produce childrenswear a decade ago, high-end names like Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs have now entered the market, raising the bar for the level of design sophistication in kidswear and generating publicity for aspirational trend-led children's clothing. Key trend events of the last year include March 2013’s debut of Global Kid’s Fashion Week (GKFW) in London; a high-profile event which attracted a drove of designer labels to showcase their latest children's collections on the catwalk. Celebrity children have also made their own impact on the fashion world as style icons, from Romeo Beckham modelling in the Burberry Autumn/Winter 2013 campaign to a host of new blogs dedicated to Suri Cruise or Blue Ivy Carter’s style.
However, the growing childrenswear sector isn’t all due to high-end fashion – the increase is fuelled by an injection of trend across all price points, increasing potential for added profits at both ends of the market. Trendstop experts are seeing signs of the competition hotting up between brands, attracting the childrenswear consumer with designs tapered towards the latest trends. Despite the overall growth in market value, both specialist childrenswear retailers and independent brands have felt the pinch in 2013. “The continuing economic downturn has seen consumers switching to high street clothing multiples such as H&M and Zara for affordable, trend-led kids' fashions. This development is in line with what has already taken place across women’s and more recently, men’s fashion,” Jätyri comments. “Independents and specialist labels can fight back using a combination of more on-trend design, quality, safety and ethical and ecological considerations, which will always attract the more affluent and more discerning consumers.”
Though it is clear that children’s fashion is a lucrative market, Trendstop’s researchers have discovered that buyers often experience difficulty when it comes to selecting the right designs to sell. It is not easy to adjust to the mindset of the newly emerged trend savvy consumer, who is much more educated about fashion, having access to comprehensive information on the latest styles through the internet, social media and trend-led stores.
Jätyri advises that as most childrenswear purchase decisions are made by adults – whether parents or style-conscious relatives – applying the latest consumer trends in childrenswear is as important as it is in adult apparel. “A large portion of childrenswear purchasers have an increasingly developed trend awareness, resulting in the tendency to veer away from overtly classic and stereotypical styles.”
Trendstop’s researchers observed that UK children’s trends followed adult styles closely in 2013 – particularly relating to colour, overall thematic directions and adapted prints and graphics. This development emerged as a direct result of this ongoing phenomenon of widening style consciousness in the childrenswear sector, and underlines the need for buyers to be clued-up on their trends when purchasing collections to sell.
Spring/Summer 2013 saw bold fluoro tones impact across both apparel and accessories, looking directional when mixed in with white and grey. Other key colours emerged in a palette of sorbet pastels like mint and strawberry, while metallic trims were used on detailing.
In print, girlswear took on a romantic direction with rose and garden floral patterns, in addition to spots and stripes, as boy’s apparel channelled modern maritime themes and summery Hawaiian aesthetics. In clothing, loose, relaxed shapes informed girl’s designs, as tunics came layered over cropped leggings and hems looked new with high-low lines. – The layering trend went on to dominate both boys’ and girls’ collections for a fashion look. Boyswear looked smart with grown-up inspired pieces in linen and lightweight knits.
Autumn/Winter 2013-14 season took further inspiration from adult trends, one example being high-end designer Isabel Marant’s childrenswear line as part of her collaboration with H&M. Directional trend looks, such as furry textures, translate surprisingly well into kidswear. Summer’s brights gave way to richer shades of emerald green, turquoise and berry, alongside on-trend monochromes. Prints looked bold in stripes and polka dots. In boyswear, V-shape necklines impacted on knit sweaters, while grungey jeans and hi-tops emerged as must-haves.
Trendstop says that key 2014 childrenswear trends will continue to take notes from adult styles, creating a diverse range of looks that continue to develop kidswear design in a more directional way. Spring/Summer 2014 sees fluoro inspired brights married with neutrals for a more grown-up look. Prints make a statement with vibrant graffiti, tropical or graphical animal-inspired surface designs, with camouflage updates taking on a graphic finish in boyswear. Additionally, girl’s clothing channels a distinctly modern feminine mood with multiple layers, ruffled placements and chiffon or tulle panelling.
Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2014-15, Trendstop’s colour predictions see girlswear on show with a palette of ermine purples and bottle greens with grown-up grey and beige in tow. Boy’s designs are set to incorporate dark blues, greens and purples.
Trendstop coaches buyers to increase their sales by stocking the right trend-led or trend-aware product styles. Today, when parents and relatives buy clothing for their children, the concept of quality no longer relates to price point alone – trend emerges as the governing factor, along with the enduring requirements for comfort, wear and safety regarding small children.
Whatever the budget, kids’ trends are relevant for both ends of the market, as it is the product that comes first. Engaging online shopping environments are also important, in addition to special or unique retail spaces – not just to appeal to the consumer first-hand, but also to generate favourable reviews on increasingly popular blogs like Mumsnet or Babyccinokids.com.
With childrenswear becoming increasingly influenced by adult trend directions, Trendstop kidswear workshops have been popular with both buying and design directors. One design director commenting, “Trendstop found out the weakest points [of the collection] and told clearly how to strengthen them.”
In the workshops Trendstop carried out with leading retailers and labels in 2013, it became evident that the concept of trend will continue to be a key factor in the childrenswear market for 2014 also – over the next 12 months, the successful application of trends to product ranges will prove to be a critical requirement for profitable business margins, impacting collections and driving the growth curve in the lucrative childrenswear sector. As the industry expands with a growing mix of designer and high street labels alike being offered, consumers will be even more demanding than before when it comes to their purchases, altering the face of what is on offer within the childrenswear sector. If buyers adapt to this change and make an effort to engage with the new trends emerging in kids' fashion, businesses will stand a much better chance in profiting from the new growth opportunities. With competition fierce and product demands at their peak, one thing that buyers can be certain of is that those brands and retailers offering the best execution of trend looks and the best overall quality/value ratio will be in the best position to win the custom of today’s demanding consumer.