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Retail Trends

STORES Trends: April 2016

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#STOREStrends is a monthly roundup of fresh retail ideas from STORES Magazine.

Dog on a boat

Going to the Dogs

What’s trending these days? Dogs!

Man’s best friend will be welcomed at Chase Field this summer as the Arizona Diamondbacks join with Phoenix-based PetSmart to create the nation’s first season-long dog-friendly ballpark. With the new PetSmart Patio, PetSmart Park and the Dog Days of Summer program, dog-loving fans can bring their pet pals to all 13 Sunday home games.

Meanwhile Boatsetter, the Airbnb meets Uber of the boating industry, is urging boaters to bring their four-legged friends on their next boating trip. “Our customers aren’t the only ones who want to enjoy life on the water. We want their dogs to enjoy the same amenities,” said Pablo Vidal, chief marketing officer of Boatsetter.

Perhaps the most surprising entry, though, is an Internet of Things concept dubbed Connected Dog, developed as part of a campaign by Volkswagen. Designed to make the owner’s life easier, it uses an app connected to a doggie cap that contains a camera, GPS device and speakers through which the owner can deliver commands.

szpump shoes

Running Challenge

“Are you fast enough for the ZPump 2.0?” For competitive consumers in Stockholm, it was a challenge they just couldn’t pass up.

In a technology-fueled marketing move, Adidas brand Reebok put up an outdoor ad equipped with a built-in speed camera and tracking technology. The ad beckoned contenders to try to race past the outdoor kiosk at a pace faster than 17 kilometers per hour (roughly 10 mph) in an attempt to win a brand new pair of ZPump 2.0 shoes. If they hit or beat the target, a green light glowed. Athletes and weekend warriors got in on the action, with many able to speed up just enough to unlock a new pair of sneakers.

“We really like the idea of taking a classic billboard and turning it into something disruptive and unique,” Markus Schramm, creative at ad agency Animal, told Adweek. “This gives customers an instant experience, and as a brand, we’re able to provide something of real value.”

“We want to inspire people to run and push their limits, even when they’re not at the gym,” said Filip Lagerbäck, public relations and social manager at Reebok Nordic. “That’s what our tagline ‘Be More Human’ is all about.”

The real challenge here is for retailers to figure out how to tap into experiences to bring shoppers to their stores. For some big-box sporting goods retailers, it might be possible to set up this type of event in the store; for others, it might require roping off a portion of the parking lot. It’s all about creating fun, so: On your mark, get set, go!

iPad tablet

Top Pick: Apple

Brand intimacy describes an essential relationship between a person and brand. It transcends usage, purchase and loyalty, and according to brand agency MBLM, intimate brands create enhanced business performance.

So which brands succeed at developing intimate connections? That depends on gender.

Women connect with a broad and more mature staple of brands that involve more aspects of their daily lives. Apple is the most intimate brand among female consumers, followed by Disney, Amazon, Whole Foods and Toyota, according to MBLM. The top five brands for men are Harley-Davidson, Apple, Toyota, Nintendo and Lexus.

MLBM partner Rina Plapler insists that how people form bonds with brands transcends gender. “It’s important to see the types of brands women tend to connect with and how age and income influence brand choices. … [It] helps marketers better promote their products and services and form deep brand attachments.”

What else did they learn? Age also plays a role in determining brand preferences. Among female Millennials ages 18 to 34, the top five are Apple, Amazon, Sephora, Target and Whole Foods; 18- to 34-year-old men pick Nintendo, Samsung, PlayStation, Xbox and YouTube as their top five.

Women earning $34,000 to $49,000 are most connected with health and beauty brands, with L’Oréal, Revlon and Dove in their top five. Among those with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000, the list leaders include Apple, Starbucks, Olay, Coca-Cola and Netflix. For those earning $75,000 to $150,000, Apple, Sephora, Amazon, Target and Clinique top the list.

Shopper in the unmanned store

Convenience to the Nth Power

It’s the perfect solution for customers who want to shop for only a few items when other supermarkets are normally closed. Swedish IT specialist Robert Ilijason has opened an unstaffed 24-hour convenience store.

Inspired by a chaotic, late-night scramble to buy baby food with a screaming toddler in the backseat, Ilijason’s brainchild requires customers to register prior to shopping and use an app to open the store’s doors. Once inside, the smartphone is used to scan items for purchase; shoppers get charged for their purchases in a monthly invoice.

The shop, which is just 480 square feet, sells milk, bread, sugar, diapers and other convenience store items. Tobacco and medicines are not available, which Ilijason feels should limit the risk for theft. (Alcohol is also not available, but that is a general rule for all Swedish convenience stores.)

Ilijason has installed six surveillance cameras to discourage shoplifting and is alerted by a text message if the front door stays open for longer than eight seconds or if someone tries to break in.

Ilijason hopes to spread this concept to other villages and small towns across Sweden.

Entercharge charging a mobile phone

Chew On This

A new tabletop technology promises to feed customers’ phones while they’re feeding their appetites.

Called Entercharge, the tabletop smart system is now being tested at 30 Los Angeles restaurants. The device won the MasterCard Challenge at the 2014 Fintech Hackathon, then spent a year in the pilot stage, conducting A/B testing at trendy downtown L.A. juice bar Green Grotto.

Messiah Jacobs, Entercharge co-founder and COO in charge of product development, says the technology is a hit among customers.

“We have received very positive Yelp reviews on our product. People go to Green Grotto for the great smoothies and also because they know they can charge their phones.”

While Entercharge functions as a phone-charging station, the version debuting this spring will utilize iBeacons and Bluetooth to enable bill payment and customer couponing via smartphones. In addition, Entercharge will establish a “smart restaurant” experience, where the Entercharge kiosk will recognize returning diners’ phones and create a personalized dining experience based on past information acquired through iBeacon technology.

One need only recall the sheer terror on consumers’ faces when they see a low battery to realize the need to provide charging services and similar related amenities. (For another take on phone charging as a customer service, read Powering Up.)

Selfiepay

Faceoff against Fraud

How would you feel about paying with your face? Using a new system called MasterCard Identity Check, the credit card provider will be able to use biometrics like face recognition and fingerprint scans to better secure online shopping.

Colloquially referred to as “selfie pay,” the new system uses an image of a shoppers’ face or fingerprint — in lieu of a password — to help fend off fraudsters. The process is similar to the routine of filling out credit card information prior to making an online purchase, but selfie pay adds a step.

Users are required to take an initial photo of their face that will be converted into a string of 0s and 1s. The original image will be destroyed, but the digitized version will be stored. Those opting to pay by selfie will have to blink to prove that they are indeed live and that an old photo is not being used to spoof the system.

“We are currently prototyping facial recognition to be converted and stored as encrypted code on the device as part of the MasterCard Identity Check rollout,” says Jane Khodos, a vice president for communications at MasterCard.

Apple Pay and a handful of other smart wallet systems already use fingerprint scans to let customers prove their identities when making purchases. And experimentation with the selfie method is already being used by USAA, a financial services company that allows consumer to use a similar blinking selfie test or voice recognition to log into their mobile banking app.

Not everyone is enamored with selfie pay. Fraud experts say that facial recognition comes with its own set of risks: They point out that many folks have their faces on social media profiles and their image is captured by many different surveillance cameras every day. They stress that while it’s possible to change a compromised password, it’s much harder — if not practically impossible — for most people to change their face or fingerprints.

Storage in a Garage

No Parking Zone?

Fertilizing the lawn, washing the windows, scrubbing the patio furniture and cleaning out the garage — each is like a rite of passage to welcome Spring. For many homeowners, spring cleaning involves at least a few of those tasks.

Alliance Data recently conducted a survey which went behind closed garage doors to look at the state of the most eclectic part of American homes. The tidbits captured provide empathy for those staring into an abyss of clutter, well-intentioned projects and hard-to-part-with memories.

It turns out 20 percent of those surveyed only use their garage for storage, not parking their cars. Tools are the most popular items to keep in the garage, according to 78 percent of respondents, with a total average estimated value of $1,120. One quarter of respondents admitted “There is so much stuff, I don’t even know what’s in there.” Still, they estimate the average value of items stored in the garage, minus vehicles, is $2,648.

The good news for retailers: One-third of respondents indicate a desire to add more/better storage options, while 16 percent would upgrade their garage door and/or opener and 14 percent would improve their garage’s climate control with a better heating/cooling system or new insulation.

Rewards card

Loves Me, Uses Me?

Does she have true feelings for you — or is she using you for the rewards? Sorry to say, it seems to be the latter for brands.

More than 45 percent of consumers say the opportunity to earn rewards is a primary driver for purchasing from a brand, according to a new study from Maritz Motivation Solutions. When some 2,000 online consumers — all of whom were loyalty or rewards participants — were asked why they purchase from a brand, a majority cited “the ability to earn points and rewards, as well as good promotions and low prices.”

Adding insult to injury, 43 percent of consumers join loyalty programs because of the desire to earn rewards; only 17 percent of those in loyalty programs say they joined out of love for the brand’s products, and just 5 percent signed on because of a shared identity with brand values. Six in 10 customers believe that companies only offer rewards programs to get them to buy more, rather than in an effort to build a relationship.

Marketers are probably not surprised by these findings; consumers have been trained to expect brands to pay them for their repeat business, much like they’ve been trained to wait for sales. If retailers are really looking to build a relationship, it might be best to rely on the tenets of service and great experience.

The Poop on Adult Diapers

Here’s a sobering statistic: Sales of adult-diaper products are forecast to increase 48 percent — to $2.7 billion — from 2015 to 2020. To put that in perspective, baby diaper sales will grow 2.6 percent in that same timeframe.

In fact, the adult diaper market is growing so fast that Euromonitor International reports it is outpacing every other paper-based household staple.

Brands are looking to market the products in a way they hope lifts the stigma consumers felt years ago; commercials show 40-something women whooping it up, suggesting that incontinence and certain health conditions are not reasons to dial back on an active lifestyle.

It will be interesting to watch how retailers merchandise the items. Of note, however, is the fact that a box of 10 Depend Silhouette Active Fit briefs sells for $11.97 — roughly $1.20 each — while a 44-count box of that same company’s Huggies Snug & Dry diapers for infants costs $7.97, or about 18 cents each. Clearly boomers have deeper pockets than new parents.

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