2020 saw a massive shift take place within the industry with physical to digital formats taking the lead, sustainability coming to the fore and virtual fashion. In 2021, offline is here to stay and the trend of interaction of creative representatives of metropolises with the developing world will take the lead. Fashion will become the engine of not only the cultural, but also the economic component of developing countries.
Erick Smet, Senior Trend Analyst at Trendwatching Amsterdam, spoke about ‘Future Consumer Influence on Retail in 2021’ at an exclusive Apparel Sourcing Week trend session. Supported with various case study-based examples from the industry, he delivered 4 key trend themes that are shaping our future as businesses as well as consumers.
In our second edition on the topic, Apparel Resources aims to pin point the trends that one can expect and work based on the information shared by Trendwatching. Read on to discover!
2020 was such a year when life as we know came to a standstill. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had major implications on the global economy but also in our social lives by accelerating a generational shift which has, in its own way, also caused many businesses to pivot.
The pandemic brought certain human needs to the forefront, which further established a new consumer segment that has a strong focus on health and well-being, connection, convenience, peace of mind, entertainment, status, trust and fairness. This new kind of consumerism is set to impact industries across the spectrum.
The past year saw a massive shift take place within the industry with physical to digital formats taking the lead, sustainability coming to the fore and virtual fashion. In 2021, offline is here to stay and will not become obsolete. Instead, it will be inextricably linked with the online, digital format that has come to become extremely successful in the past year.
The trend will also be the interaction of creative representatives of metropolises with the developing world. Fashion will become the engine of not only the cultural, but also the economic component of developing countries.
The sudden sharp increase in demand for contact-free interactions is converging with advancements in robotics to enable a new breed of automated ecommerce, in real life.
During the pandemic, businesses across the globe were forced to adapt to and adopt contactless experiences in a way that is both convenient and also for its consumers. Right from in-app ordering, contactless payments, QR codes, BOPIS, curb-side delivery and drive-thrus, processes were reimagined in an attempt to cater to 7 out of every 10 consumers that would prefer a shopping excursion that doesn’t require any human contact.
This experience is only set to amplify in the future and businesses need to look at simplifying every step of the customer’s journey.
Brands need to leverage the trend by providing faster checkout experiences, tying up with a range of digital payment options, scan and pay experiences and in-store pickups.
During the lockdowns and their subsequent easing out, it has been difficult for consumers to casually enter store and touch or try on products. This has led to many businesses looking at and developing digital clothing and virtual fitting options.
Virtual clothing has been around for some time now, and the pandemic has only but helped accelerate a shift that has been long due. Today, virtual clothing is the way forward, with consumers more than ready to embrace the experience – digital does not require a huge amount of expense for production, travel, purchase and disposal of merchandise, all it requires is a few clicks and a stable working network connection.
Decades of unbridled consumerism wreaked havoc on our health, environment and society. Then COVID-19 came around and hit the pause button. While consumerism is sure to return, people will have a new perspective.
“In 2020, especially as awareness of damaging impacts of consumption reaches critical mass, millions will embrace new mind-sets, new priorities, new choices, and this will invert what has come before,” Erick stated in his talk.
If there is one thing that the pandemic has brought about, it is a need to pause and reconsider our actions as friends, family, citizens and humans. Fast fashion and over-consumption have been threatening forces in the world much before COVID-19 struck, the latter only serving to highlight an urgent need for us as creators as well as consumers, to re-evaluate our choices.
In 2020, people suddenly started shopping less, and though it has been a big blow to industries worldwide, it also serves as a perfect example to highlight just how less is required to live a happy, content life where basics take centre stage.
Brands need to tap on this and reassess what they are producing and why. Does it serve a need or is it just another addition on top of the huge pile of consumerism?
The volume of clothes being disposed off in landfills is staggering! The pandemic has heightened consumers’ awareness regarding the same which has directly impacted the way they consume and purchase, leading them to make mindful purchases.
The entire community of designers also needs to come together and acknowledge sustainability (in all its forms) is the only way forward. Many businesses are already addressing the issue at hand by incorporating the use of natural fibres and recycled clothing, tapping on the skills of local craftsmen and manufacturers, preserving cultural codes and creating employment opportunities.
BUSINESS AS SOCIAL
Looking at the immense popularity of social media across demographics, it comes as no surprise that social commerce is set to drive global expectations for consumption. The impact of these radically social brands will extend far beyond retail.
Brands need to look beyond transactions and convenience and think about being more social in terms of how one can build communities. Consumers in Asia and beyond are bringing expectations for social, community driven and entertaining experiences to every online commerce event.
Younger consumers are like serial shoppers – they know their brands, follow them on social media and are always on the lookout for special collaborations and exclusive products. A brand needs to keep this in mind while developing its collections.
Although the pandemic had a devastating impact, there have been many positive lessons to be learnt and implemented. People are looking at their communities and at doing things in a different way. Brands are learning how to work with consumers through social networks to identify needs and respond to their demands.
Formats for presenting content on social networks will completely change; local brands can confidently focus on their target audience, thus in the future this will be a major step towards global recognition.
Owing to the digital format, many local events have been transformed into international ones. Online media will work to develop their own niche in social networks, and thereby try to compete with independent industry experts who have already gathered a target audience around them.
Social platforms have helped in creating an ecosystem where it becomes easier for designers and brands to discover talent and collaborate with them on exclusive, limited edition collections that perform better in the market and are also a great way to reach out to and acquire a wider, more diverse audience.
Brands are working towards making wellness a norm by embedding physical and mental health boosters into everyday surroundings or real world objects because for many people in developed countries, 2020 was nothing short of a wake-up call that good health isn’t a given.
“Brands today are quickly jumping onto this new need. Consumers are busy anyways so they will love brands that make mental and physical wellness easy by embedding it into products and their surroundings.” Erick stated.
It isn’t just about physical health, according to McKinsey, the average life satisfaction in Europe, which has consistently led the world in wellbeing, fell to its lowest level since 1980 in April 2020.
It is also imperative to point out over here that, before the pandemic, APAC’s health tech ecosystem was already the second biggest in the world with US $ 6.3 billion in investment.
Brands need to be more sensitive not only in their approach, but also in the way they communicate their stories – their brand, their philosophy and taking into account their consumer – what affects them and how? Is it resonating with them in a positive way or is it triggering a negative experience for them?
Campaigns, communication and products need to be re-thought of and then packaged in a way that brings about a message of hope and positivity for the consumer.
Honest and sincere brand strategies will win.