Adapting to emerging consumer trends

consumer trendsBy Lisbeth Calandrino As we move into what we believe is our “post-pandemic” era, there are still many shifting consumer trends – people who are still reluctant to go shopping, eat out indoors in restaurants, or installers in to have their home. I say “post” because there are several signs that still indicate that we are very much in the grip of a pandemic.

My neighbor told me how bad her carpet looked recently, but she still isn’t willing to hire a carpet cleaner because she doesn’t want workers in her house. She decided she would do the best she could on her own.

Despite the fact that my girlfriend has had her COVID-19 vaccinations, she doesn’t go to many places. This is a trend that I think will continue for quite some time as people are getting acclimated to going out in public and between groups. As a retailer, you need to be ready and respond accordingly.

This leads us to one of my first consumer trends; it is called the do-it-yourselfer, continues.

When I say DIY, I don’t mean just carpeting, although it’s always been a good pull to have lessons about this in the store. Maybe it’s the DIY backsplash, or ‘let’s paint a wall’ or some other home decor project. You can collaborate with other transactions and have that weekly Zoom interaction. It could be cooking, flower arranging, starting a small business or gardening.

The DIY trend is not new. However, the pandemic has forced many people to do more for themselves. We may still not be doing the ‘heavy lifting’ like installing a new roof, but we are learning how to do repair projects around the house.

Another consumer trends I see are unconventional partnerships, such as home centers and specialty stores. It may sound crazy, but I am aware of retailers providing installation or even products for the box stores. If I were a store owner, I would call the manager of one of the checkout stores with a proposal to provide them with labor or do an installation workshop. (I know what you’re thinking – “she’s crazy!”). But if I was a customer and saw on social media that you were doing a workshop for a checkout shop, then I know where I would shop.

The growth of concierge services is another trend that is also gaining momentum. Concierge services are usually relegated to luxury hotels or luxury shops, but are gaining in popularity in the age of social distance. For flooring and home furnishings dealers, having a concierge service may involve offering sidewalk pickup. Or how about bringing samples to the client’s house and offering to go out and measure for a job or talk about your concierge installation? These specialized services go hand in hand with your professionals and your talent for custom installation.

I’m also seeing a more creative use of outdoor space these days – look no further than the restaurant industry for examples. How about getting creative with your parking space? I hate it when I pass a floor shop in the summer and there’s nothing wrong in a large, empty parking lot. If it were mine I would schedule a farmer’s market in my parking lot on a regular basis. You could organize all kinds of different events – raffles, arcade games, fun things for sale.

In short, with all the changes happening in retail today – coupled with changing consumer buying habits – it’s important to look for exciting new opportunities to engage with customers. What’s the worst that could happen? And you might enjoy it.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for 20 years. Contact her at [email protected] to have her speak at your farm or schedule a consultation.

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