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Posted by Sarah Brown on 08 Feb '16

Which of these five trends can you use to grow?

Research into consumer trends in retailing can be relevant to any organisation thinking about how to innovate and shows it is not just about money.

Research out today from Westfield identifies five key future trends which are relevant to everyone be it retail, business to business or charity.

1) Pay as you go retail – rent don’t own

This is a rental/sharing model forced on many younger people because they can’t afford to buy. This research suggests consumers would potentially now like retailers to offer items ranging from cars and consumer electronics to clothing for rental. Nearly half (46%) of 25-34 year olds are interested in renting from their favourite stores and about 20% of UK shoppers who expressed an interest in renting would be willing to spend £200 or more per month on unlimited clothing rent subscriptions.

If you can find the right model this could be an interesting way of generating regular income and fits with a more environmentally friendly way of working – reuse rather than throw away.

2) Classroom retail – learning and meeting

Because shopping is now so easy online, consumers are looking for shops they visit to offer more. About a third of UK shoppers (35%) are interested in attending a lifestyle lesson or club at their favourite store.

The most popular idea is for health or fitness sessions (27%), followed by inspiring learning sessions such as creative cookery (25%), expert sessions (20%) and then clubs (19%). More than half (53%) of UK consumers agree that the communal element of shopping with friends is the reason why they shop in store rather than online.

The example provided on the BBC Radio 4 was a yoga session in a clothing store, but any organisation could think of adding value by offering relevant and useful sessions or a chance to be social.

3) Lifestyle loyalty – its not just about money

Life is more than money and there is a new consumer demand for loyalty schemes that reward good lifestyle choices rather than just monetary transactions.

A fifth of UK consumers would find a lifestyle reward scheme appealling.

They’d like to be rewarded by retailers for recycling (29%), exercising (20%), spending time with their family (19%), getting enough sleep (14%), and charity volunteering (10%). The youngest, 16-24 year old, audience in both the US and UK particularly crave rewards for having a work-life balance with time spent with loved ones (30%).

It is interesting how this would be monitored, I already wear a Fitbit which monitors my sleep, maybe it could be a reason to buy one.

This trend could create amazing opportunities for collaboration between businesses of all kinds and charities.

4) Enhanced assistance – helping the imagination

The report predicts that virtual reality will become ubiquitous over the coming years, and shoppers increasingly want virtual reality technology to help bring in-store products closer to their everyday lives.

41% of people in the UK would like to use things such as virtual reality headsets to experience how products will look in their home and a third (33%) would be interested in using virtual assistance to see how clothes would look on them. One assumes this is because you can then see yourself from all angles after all, surely you can try them on. A recent Mary Portas programme showed a wedding shop using Skype links to let a maid of honour in Australia see the bride trying on dresses in the UK.

5) Touchy feely

Three quarters of people go to real shops to see real things! To touch and try them though, in fact, many shops are now complaining that people look at the real thing, get information and then buy online from the cheapest. Hopefully some of these trends might increase loyalty to the shops and businesses that people visit.

This last trend suggests that a sensory retail experience is becoming increasingly important to consumers. We don’t just want to smell the flowers or hear birdsong in-store; we want to overload their senses with extraordinary experiences that re-awaken all of their senses, all at once. All five senses were deemed to enhance the shopper experience. Vision and touch came out top, but just under a third of shoppers also identified smell and hearing. Taste was also important to more than a fifth of shoppers (28%).

Even in business to business this can also be replicated, we offer a comprehensive range of over 30 drinks on our menu for visitors and look to use images as much as words to convey messages.


This research report illustrates how 21st century business needs to be thinking in different ways and innovating. Consumers are just business people at home, in the main so what they want and enjoy in their free time is likely to be what can make a company stand out in business or a charity stand out for support. It will be interesting to see which of these trends takes off. It would be great to hear your thoughts on what you think the future important trends may be

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Tags: innovation