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Retail's BIG Show: NRF 2019 - Staying Ahead Of The Curve

January 9, 2019


As every year Retail's BIG Show, NRF, the world’s largest retail conference and expo, will again this month open its doors to exhibitors and attendees for learning, exploring, connecting, but also having the opportunity to look into the retail crystal ball for 2019 predictions.


With more than 36,000 attendees, 700+ exhibitors from all over the world, and numerous interesting sessions, I can safely predict that during the three days at NRF I’m going to be a very busy bee indeed (I promise to find time for sending you a selfie!).

"No matter what trends appear to colour 2019 retail I will still look for the crucial connection between emotion, human behaviour and brand-customer relationship to provide context for retailers from a psychological perspective"


Zana Busby

In the midst of such a highly charged energetic environment my attention will firmly be focused on finding out the answers to:


What must retailers do in order to prosper in 2019 and beyond and win the relentless competition in attracting consumers?


One prevalent notion though, that doesn’t need looking into the crystal ball, is the fact that brands will have to adapt to consumers’ modern lifestyles filled with high expectations if they are not just to succeed but to survive too.


Remember - you are dealing with a human being, called the consumer, and it is they who are in the driving seat.


So no matter what trends appear to colour 2019 retail I will still look for the crucial connection between emotion, human behaviour and brand-customer relationship to provide context for retailers from a psychological perspective.


With that in mind, some of my preliminary trends predictions for 2019, just before heading out to New York, include:





The concept of personalisation will grow further into the concept of consumer personal involvement in product design as involvement creates experiences and builds stronger relationships.


Dresden, an eyewear retailer and healthcare provider, is already providing such great customer experience by offering their customers the opportunity to build their own eyewear.


The additional bonus is that the affordable frames are made from recycled plastic waste showing that the ongoing social / sustainability issue is cleverly woven into their strategy.





Wellbeing trends driven by Millennials and Gen Z will continue to grow as there is a greater health and wellbeing awareness amongst all generations.


In this era of health consumerism, health is seen as an achievement prompting a number of “health conscious consumer needs oriented” brands to implement creative solutions in order to support this trend. 


One such brand is NYC-based fitness fashion retailer Bandier, which combines fitness and fashion in one location by offering workout classes in its Studio B.



Greater attention to female consumers


Girl power is female consumer power. According to the Harvard Business Review, globally female consumers control about $20 trillion in annual consumer spending, clearly signalling that retailers can certainly capitalise on this consumer fact by exploring and taking action to give women what they want.


Having that in mind, brands will need to adopt a “female mindset approach” when it comes to how women process information, analyse it, and draw upon emotional experiences in order to create a strong emotional bond with the brand.


With its “Force of Nature” campaign REI is one of the favourite brands among modern women because it looks at women in a holistic way, inclusive of all the female traits, attributes, experiences and hobbies that allow her to be who she is.


Remember; women seek empathy, relevance, warmth and inclusiveness from their shopping experiences. Your brand needs to be delivering on all of these to be successful.



And in the year ahead….


Whichever 2019 retail trends brands choose to engage with, they will require understanding and creating solutions based on a mix of behavioural analysis exploring emotion, attitude and personality.


Only in this way can they crystallise a personalised marketing approach in their quest to attract and keep their customers not only satisfied, but coming back for more; again and again.


Starting with Retail's BIG Show next week I will be observing, analysing and synthesising, digging deeper into the main trends, challenges and opportunities that face retail this year.


How exciting, especially for a consumer psychologist as myself!



Zana Busby is a Director at Retail Reflections, Business & Consumer Psychologist and author of the book 'Life Equilibrium'


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