When Retail Week pinpointed the key Christmas shopping trends after our first encounter with a global pandemic, the results showed a significant increase in online shopping. While it makes sense in the current situation, it’s important to consider the long-lasting impact of digital consumerism.
According to Google director of lifestyle retail, Alison Lomax, the start of the pandemic in the UK saw 41% more searches related to home interior inspirations than the same period in 2019. Whether DIY upscaling or purposeful home improvements from home office to a new kitchen, customers focused on creating a homely interior during the 2020 lockdown. Despite the vaccine rollout, a lot of customers are choosing caution and staying at home as much as possible. Needless to say, it will affect their shopping behaviour.
According to Salience UK Gift Industry report 2021, creative and inspirational gifts are now taking over the market. Hamper-related keywords are unusual presents are growing trends. But the focus has moved away from the home interior. Indeed, in 2021, customers have already invested in their interior decor. They now want a unique experience. More importantly, they are not afraid to look around and select international goods that can bring a unique touch. What are the most meaningful gift trends for British retailers?
Look abroad for inspiration
The majority of British customers are showing signs of missing the international excitement of culture shocks. When going abroad isn’t an option for the moment, many are turning to takeaway for a taste of travel. Chinese and Indian takeaways remain a favourite in the UK. However, during the pandemic, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Nepalese, South American, Mexican, and African takeaway restaurants have grown in popularity. For retailers, and especially those who sell hamper baskets (one of the most popular search terms with the least competition), it’s the perfect excuse to offer a journey around the world in 80 snacks. Southeastern Asia, such as Malaysia, is the ideal spot to introduce new and familiar flavours to the British gift market. Reaching out to suppliers might require retailers to find a safe way to send money to Malaysia or other Asian countries. Blue rice, for instance, in the north of Malaysia is likely to attract enthusiastic shoppers seeking excitement. Kuih, a favourite dessert, also makes a great addition to a travel-inspired hamper.
Dive into pop culture
Lockdown has driven British customers to streaming services. Therefore, platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ have enjoyed a record year in 2020. More importantly, the British public has been exposed to a variety of shows and pop culture in comparison to the previous years. Streaming subscribers have increased by over 8 million, with many first-time subscribers too. The result is evident from the rise in pop culture gifs and imagery on social media platforms. The Mandalorian, the Star Wars spin-off, Crash Landing On You, the South Korean romantic series that exposes the differences between South and North Korea, and the adaptation of Witcher with British superhero actor Henry Cavill, have been some of the most binge-watched shows. For retailers, pop culture could be the key to renew interest and attract customers who are staying at home. It’s the ideal nod to the pandemic zeitgeist that exploded our cultural knowledge and interests.
Run small-sized trials
Launching new retail offerings is never a walk in the park. However, in 2021, retailers can’t afford to miss their chance to renew their catalogue and brand perception. Using the Salience report as guidance, it’s time for retailers to experiment with new ideas. Small business strategy expert, Gerri Detweiler, recommends determining “the value of your idea and the emotional connection it will have with your audience” as part of the development process. Talking to existing customers remains the quickest and safest way to gauge the market temperature. It’s also the best approach to test prototypes and measure their reactions. As innovative specialist Bryan Mattimore advises, when it comes to prototypes, an unfinished prototype leaves room for conversation, criticism and valuable suggestions, as opposed to an item that is already too well developed. For retailers who are considering products inspired by streaming pop culture, for example, it’s an excellent strategy to beta-test your idea. On the other hand, hamper baskets will need to rely on sample testing to evaluate the products that belong in the basket and those that should be left out.
The pandemic has transformed how customers use social media. Social media consumption has increased during the pandemic, with customers seeking inspiration and entertainment for a variety of platforms. The age divide has started to disappear with generation Y, X and Baby boomers turning to “youth” platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Discord. It makes sense for the retail industry to embrace the new cross-generation audience. It’s a case of blurring demographics data to encourage influencers from different backgrounds, ages, and platforms to talk about the same products.