Insight: Shoppers, especially Millennials, are increasingly attracted by natural or traditional materials and imagery paired with modern touches and digital interactions.
In today’s “new norm” economy, every shopper segment has become more cost-conscious and judicious with their time and money. The Millennial generation has come of age in this environment, causing them to be especially discerning when it comes to their discretionary dollars. At the same time, shoppers have gradually demanded more meaningful interactions from retailers and brands.
Take, for instance, the Deloitte Millennial Survey results from earlier this year. Overwhelmingly, respondents voiced lofty expectations for companies, believing they should be judged by much more than profits, namely by how they improve society and the planet.
Similarly, a Bentley University study found Millennials to value authenticity chiefly when evaluating companies. And a report from Adroit Digital showed, outside of financial factors, the No. 1 reason Generation Y will switch brands is if a company is found to have bad business practices or ethics. In that same study, respondents voiced preference for personal recommendations and interactions both from brands and their social networks.
Millennials – perhaps the most important generation to marketers, representing more than 80 million shoppers – are willing to “take their business elsewhere” if a retailer or brand isn’t relevant to them personally while also authentically benefitting society. But, unlike any generation before them, Millennials want all this with a digital spin.
Often called “digital natives,” Millennials are well-versed in social media and web communications, and have come to expect increasingly personalized, seamless and meaningful interactions from brands via digital. The Deloitte study also found Generation Y to expect brands to be continually innovative.
The dichotomy of human and digital – of raw, real and natural combined with technologically advanced, and of artisan and authentic with sleek and chic – is playing out in today’s store designs and brand communications. We think this is a result of attempting to address the Millennial mindset.
Vision: While at EuroShop earlier this year, our global design team took note of trends that juxtapose “raw” and “modern” to great effect for various shopper segments, especially younger consumers.
The use of raw wood and materials alongside digital screens is becoming widely used. Our designers have been noticing more creative uses of color, repetition and shapes to add contemporary flair to wooden finishes.
Representing natural elements in unexpected ways is a big trend right now, bringing human, plant, animal, even outer space, imagery through digital content and creative installations.
Typically, local, organic or “from the farm” produce is merchandised to the shopper with wood displays made to feel like they are farm-used. Millennials dislike this “faux” approach.
The latest trend is to showcase the new technology that is keeping it fresh, tell sourcing stories through digital communication, or present a local flavor of natural produce with a slick, clean design. This targets the Millennial shopper who is health-conscious and prefers natural produce, yet lives in the digital world.
Utilizing “found objects” that signify heritage and tradition and then placing them in contrast with more modern materials, objects or technology also seems to be addressing the dual emotional needs of Millennials.
DCI-Artform design talent across the globe continually looks for trends like these to incorporate them into our solutions – but only when they speak to a consumer need, which we identify through our Retail Science approach.
Retail Science Summary
Retailers – Engage with shoppers through meaningful design that appeals to deep needs
Brands – Establish both cognitive and emotional connection with shoppers through combinations of materials and content
Shoppers – Get what you need, how you want it through the form and function of the store
Barriers to Purchase – Anything from colors, materials, construction and content can take shoppers out of a buying mindset