Burgeoning target demographics, such as Hispanics, Asians and baby boomers, along with an increased utility of smartphone technology as a shopping tool, will help to redefine retail altogether, suggested Thom Blischok, chief retail strategist and senior executive adviser for Booz & Co. during the keynote address and closing session for FMI’s part in the Health & Wellness @Retail 2013 conference on Saturday.
As many as 47% of U.S. shoppers will be of ethnic background, Blischok noted. Between 2010 and 2025, the Hispanic population is expected to climb by 41%, and the Asian population by 37%. And the 65-years-and-older population, who hold about $11 trillion in wealth, will become a market force even sooner — in the next five years — Blischok added. That represents an especially candied sweet spot for health-and-wellness marketers as anyone older than 55 years manages an average of 2.5 chronic conditions.
The merchandising and marketing of health-and-wellness products and services through technologically advanced retail tools will prove a significant point of entrée to serving each of those demographic needs. “This mobile technology play is beyond important as a strategic differentiator,” Blischok said.
To succeed, suppliers and retailers will need to define their health-and-wellness initiatives across four dimensions — recognizing needs, supplying relevant education, fortifying the shopping experience and delivering solutions. “Where retail is going to win is through merchandising and marketing and through technology,” he said. Products could become very much commoditized across online outlets, but the experience at retail cannot be replicated on the Web.
Retailers who have figured out how to best create a seamless experience between brick, click and any combination of the two include sports merchandiser Cabela’s and Lowe’s, Blischok observed. And it’s precisely because no matter how the shopper wants to shop them, they have an easily accessed shopping solution.
“The next generation of stores is something called ‘responsive stores,’” Blischok said. Just shy of half of all offerings at retail will be service-oriented in the near future, he suggested. “It’s no longer about the [physical] store,” he said. Stores will still be part of the shopping equation, but it’s the shopping experience that will be the driving force behind winning retailers.