Trend Spotting for the New Year
Increased immersion in technology — and increased questions about its effect on people’s lives and privacy. A rise in consumer expectations for speed. A shift to a visual vocabulary and the rise of telepathic technology. These, according to one trend forecast, will be among the main drivers of consumer behavior in 2014.
The forecast, “Ten Trends for 2014 and Beyond,” comes from marketing communications giant JWT. For the past nine years, the company has released its predictions of the key trends that will drive or impact consumer behavior in the new year and going beyond. It’s always an interesting read, and this year is no exception. One of the things that strikes me about the 2014 forecast is how it so clearly reflects the growing mixed feelings consumers have about technology. The dichotomy is one that retailers will have to learn how to balance going forward. “Consumers are both welcoming and resisting technology’s growing omnipresence in our lives … those who are most immersed are starting to question its effect on their lives and their privacy,” said Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at JWT, New York.
Here’s a quick overview of JWT’s trends:
1. Immersive experiences: Brand and entertainment will become more immersive and more enveloping in a bid to capture consumers’ imagination and attention.
2. Speaking visually: The rise of photos, video snippets, emojis and other imagery is moving us to a visual vocabulary — and largely supplanting the need for text.
3. The age of impatience: Consumer expectations for speed and ease are increasing exponentially. As retailers respond in kind, impatience will only increase.
4. Mobile as a gateway to opportunity: In emerging markets, the mobile device is coming to represent a gateway to opportunity, helping people to change their lives.
5. Telepathic technology: With the rise of brain-computer interfaces and emotion-recognition technology, brands will become more adept at understanding consumers’ minds and moods — and reacting accordingly in a very personalized way.
6. The end of anonymity: New technologies and a growing drive to collect personal data are making it nearly impossible to remain unobserved and untracked. But as anonymity becomes more elusive, expect pushback from consumers and a growing paranoia around technologies and services that affect privacy.
7. Raging against the machine: As the digital age progresses, consumers are starting to fear/resent technology, fretting about what’s been lost in our embrace of technology and the pace of change. A higher value will be put on all things that feel essentially human as people seriously question (while not entirely resisting) technology’s siren call.
8. Remixing tradition: With social norms quickly changing and a new anything-goes attitude, people are mashing up cherished traditions with decidedly new ideas, creating their own recipes for what feels right.
9. Proudly imperfect: Imperfection is taking on new appeal in today’s neatly polished and curated world, reflecting the diversity seen in everyday life.
10. Mindful living: Once the domain of the spiritual set, mindful living is going mainstream, with more people drawn to the idea of shutting out distractions and focusing on the moment.
Happy New Year!
Fast Retailing’s slow U.S. expansion
Japanese apparel retailer Fast Retailing remains deliberate in its approach to growth of its Uniqlo brand in the U.S. with plans for five more stores by mid-year.
There are currently 1,300 Uniqlo locations worldwide in 13 countries, but only 17 stores in the U.S. The five new stores the company is adding this spring and summer will be located in King of Prussia, Pa., Stamford, Conn., and Daly City, Concord, and Milpitas, Calif. The company’s other existing stores are clustered in the Northeast with and northern California.
“We are thrilled to announce our newest store openings and are eager to bring the Uniqlo experience to even more communities throughout the United States,” said Larry Meyer, CEO of Uniqlo USA and Fast Retailing Group SVP. “Our universal products, every day basics of exceptional value, world class customer service and modern, bright stores will create a brand new group of Uniqlo fans.”
In the fall, Uniqlo plans to open an undisclosed number of stores in markets such as Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles/Southern California.
Uniqlo may not be commenting on the number of stores it plans to open, but parent company Fast Retailing is currently the world’s fourth largest apparel retailer and Uniqlo is Japan’s leading specialty chain so the company is certainly capable of a more meaningful acceleration of its U.S. expansion.
ChannelAdvisor taps new VP, general counsel
ChannelAdvisor, a leading provider of cloud-based e-commerce solutions, has appointed Diana Semel Allen as VP and general counsel. In her new role, Allen will oversee the company’s worldwide legal functions, including regulatory compliance, commercial affairs, mergers and acquisitions, litigation and intellectual property management.
“Diana’s experience and expertise are great assets to ChannelAdvisor as we grow our global footprint while maintaining the high standard of integrity that is fundamental to the company,” said CEO Scot Wingo. “Being a newly public company, it is essential that we have superior legal leadership to oversee all regulatory matters on a global scale. We are thrilled to welcome Diana to our team.”
Allen previously served as associate general counsel, assistant secretary and compliance director for Cree, a leading innovator of lighting-class LED products, lighting products and semiconductor products for power and radio-frequency applications. Prior to joining Cree in 2005, she was a corporate attorney with Helms Mulliss & Wicker, PLLC, a Raleigh, N.C., law firm (formerly part of Smith Helms Mulliss & Moore LLP). Allen received a bachelor of arts degree with honors from Columbia College, Columbia University and a juris doctor with honors from Duke University School of Law. She serves on the board of directors of the Research Triangle Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and is a section council member for the North Carolina Bar Association International Law Section.
“This is an exciting time for ChannelAdvisor, and I look forward to being part of the company’s continued development as the standard for multichannel e-commerce,” said Allen. “It’s my goal to ensure that ChannelAdvisor remains on course in all compliance matters and continues to best serve its customers and investors around the world.”
According to the company, its cloud-based solutions enable retailers to efficiently manage and automate the online selling process across multiple channels including third-party marketplaces, paid search and comparison shopping engines. ChannelAdvisor’s software is designed to eliminate day-to-day tasks of optimizing online listings and analyzing performance, allowing sellers to successfully scale their e-commerce businesses.