This is the 28th in a series of 32 posts—each one a section from Euro RSCG Worldwide PR’s “The Big Little Book of Nexts,” which in total features more than 150 sightings for 2012. It’s the biggest, most robust annual trends report ever from @erwwpr CEO Marian Salzman and her trendspotting team. To download the entire report, go to the Brainfood tab at eurorscgpr.com.
As the economy continues to modify the way many of us work, shop and live, expect to see the very notion of “value” shaken up in 2012 and 2013. What is valuable to us as a culture, as a family, as an individual? What do we need and what can we live without? What is having a “valuable” experience all about? Perhaps no sector is a better barometer for this new notion of value than retail, and its offer: shopping. And no conversation about shopping trends would be complete without mentioning shopping under the (tech) influence. Virtual shopping is going to change the game when it comes to how we make purchases, and Microsoft’s Kinect is leading the way. Kinect technology, first employed in gaming, is now being used to create virtual fitting rooms wherein 3-D models of our bodies can try on clothes online. How will augmented reality play into bricks-and-mortars? Some brands are thinking of making this technology an in-store mainstay. Macy’s installed a Magic Fitting Room in its Herald Square store in New York City. Within minutes, shoppers were trying on the most popular tops, dresses and jackets, creating as many as 16 outfits that could be stored in a digital closet, then shared on Facebook and by email. And Swiss watchmaker Tissot ran an interactive display in a Harrods window, inviting passersby to try on watches. Even Twitter is getting in on the digital shopping craze; the Tweetalicious app offers the shop-obsessed an easier way to sift through discounts from favorite retailers and brands by aggregating all the deals shared on Twitter into one stream based on your tastes. Mobile shopping, aka m-commerce, is also gaining ground. French Connection, Zara, Mulberry and Marks & Spencer all allow their Facebook fans to browse products on their Facebook and mobile phone, with many retailers sure to follow suit in 2012 and 2013. Another trend on our radar is hoteltail. Look no further than New York City’s Ace Hotel as a stellar example of how hoteliers can surf the blurring of traveling, shopping and living (its partnership with cool retailer Opening Ceremony has been a big success with hipster travelers). Other hotels getting in on the act? The W has terrific boutiques in its hotels, the Standard sells everything from CDs to sarongs in its locations (and with an eye toward local), and Le Meridien is transforming its lobbies and common spaces to “Hubs”—creative, art-filled gathering places designed to inspire and draw guests out of their rooms. Experience really is everything these days. Another cool trend taking shape in retail is an extension of the heritage movement of the last few years; let’s call it retail goes home. This subtle nod to creating a homey vibe in-store serves two purposes: giving customers a respite from their own lives while offering a more intimate look into the lives of brand designers. Marc Jacobs’ BookMarc is filled with the designer’s favorite tomes, and high-end Jimmy Choo has sofas and accessories found in the designer’s own apartment, while the staircase in Christian Louboutin’s London shop is a replica of the one in his home, adding an intimacy and personalization to the shopping experience. And with an increasing interest in all things artisanal and organic, look for flea market fever to strike (à la Brooklyn Flea and London’s Portobello Market) in lesser-known nabes as a way to satisfy those looking for homemade, vintage and up-and-coming designers while embracing all things local. Could flea markets be the new malls in 2012-13 as young and old gather to shop and eat in a less commercial setting? Cities from Buffalo to Barcelona are hosting fleas full of indie vendors that cater to a hipster crowd. In big-business news, expect a continued expansion into China for major brand retail. Nike Brand President Charlie Denson recently said that the company will continue to invest heavily in the world’s most populous country. Nike—the planet’s top sportswear maker—plans to double sales in China by 2015 and add to its roster of more than 7,000 retail stores there already. Note to brands looking to sell their wares to expanding markets such as China and India: Just do it.