Are We Keeping Up With Customer Trends?

As I thought through this topic of keeping up with customer trends, I realized a lot of information is already available online about this topic. I decided to take a different approach and the truth is, there’s so much to say about customer trends that I decided to dedicate a two-blog series to the idea of keeping up with customer trends.

First, let’s look at the driving factors that stimulate trend changes.

Driving factors

Gender and ethnicity are the two biggest demographic factors for both retailers and suppliers when it comes up to keeping up with disparities in the market. Despite both parties working to do better in this area, they are still struggling to remain relevant to their entire consumer mix.

Here’s the thing: we still rarely hear about the demands and we only hear about the trends. We need to be looking at what was being demanded years ago compared to now to see trend movement. It seems that the pendulum has swung from the supplier and retailer controlling the movements to now the consumer having more control over their shopping baskets.

This has forced retailers to get out of their comfort zones and try an amazing number of different things to grab consumer attention, satisfaction, then loyalty. In today’s market, it isn’t enough to have a loyalty program. Stores need to keep up with demands and create a situation where their products are what keep customers loyal.

Amazon effect

Amazon is another example of how the consumers are driving trends more now than before. The online retail giant is pushing into bricks and mortar stores as well as flexing their e-commerce muscle more than ever before. Consumers can only win in the e-commerce war.

Walmart is Amazon’s biggest competitor and its e-commerce is growing rapidly, but the rules and gimmicks for staying ahead in the online retail game are in a state of constant change. Just as places like Walmart and Target think they have crept closer to Amazon; the leader introduces more products and more services to muddy the waters.

However, even though Amazon is king of selling everything imaginable over the internet and getting products delivered in (generally) two days, the company still struggles to even scratch the surface on the CPG market. The various retailers are fighting for every sale, making it even harder for Amazon to crack their huge CPG sales.

When it comes to food, pharmacy, and perishables, Amazon has gone the route of linking up with several existing expert companies in those markets such as CVS and Whole Foods.

Amazon also faces a growing number of challenges when it comes to finding efficient delivery options now that it has nearly promised the moon in terms of delivery turnaround times. FedEx, a major global delivery provider, is rumored to be dumping Amazon business.

Changing services

In recent years, several retailers, especially Walmart, have hit the grand slam with their call-in and pick-up services. Walmart has even added delivery in some markets. I’ve talked to many consumers over the years who didn’t shop at Walmart but now they are huge fans because of the new pickup services.

Walmart has made sizeable gains competing against Amazon’s core business with these services. However, there is still a huge divide between Amazon and other retailers when you look at e-commerce.

What’s next?

Keep following my blog for part two of this series where I share my thoughts on where customer trends are going in the future, including how retailers and suppliers can stay in the game.