Give Them What They Want: Inspiring Loyalty by Understanding Consumer Trends

True customer loyalty goes well beyond punch cards and loyalty apps. To produce lifelong customers, it is essential that brands stay at the forefront of consumer trends. Here are 6 examples of the latest trends in the retail and restaurant spaces and how innovative brands are capitalizing.

1. “Affordable luxury”
Today’s consumers are willing to spend more money on the experience and on premium, unique items. Seasonal produce, fresh ingredients, and one-of-a-kind menu items allow for a high-end experience that customers crave.

The Crack Shack, a limited-service restaurant that specializes in premium chicken sandwiches and all-day breakfast, is the brainchild of CEO Michael Rosen and “Top Chef” alumni chef Richard Blais, who debuted the concept in a shed next door to Juniper & Ivy restaurant in San Diego. Recognized by Nation’s Restaurant News as a 2017 Breakout Brand, The Crack Shack offers premium menu items, open air seating, and a full bar featuring craft beers and cocktails.

2. It may not be easy being green, but it is becoming necessary.
Consumers are becoming much more interested and invested in where their money is going rather than simply what it’s buying. Consumers are showing stronger desires to be more ethically conscious in purchase decisions and keener interests in supporting brands with a “strong sense of identity.”

Lush, known for their fresh, handmade cosmetics, promotes its stance on sustainability on its website’s homepage; specifically, that each if its products are 100% vegetarian, handmade, not tested on animals, purchased ethically, and packaged using recycled/recyclable materials or not packaged at all.

3. Ultimate convenience
With new mobile ordering, tracking, and payment capabilities, consumers are expecting these conveniences in many traditional experiences. TechCrunch estimates that 70 percent of all mobile users in the United States will make a mobile payment in 2017 and mobile payments are expected to total $60 billion.

Starbird Chicken has reimagined Drive Thru using these new capabilities. Via the Starbird app, customers order, pay, earn rewards and get food delivered to their car all from their phone.

4. Personalization
According to an Accenture Interactive study, “56% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer in store or online that recognizes them by name.” However, the tactics retailers once used to speak directly to customers (such as using first names in an email) have become outdated and transparent. Personalization is now about truly understanding your customers’ preferences and ordering history, and the retailers who get this right will have a huge advantage.

UK retailer Shop Direct has produced a fully personalized homepage for its flagship brand Shop Direct’s data scientists used the etailer’s wealth of customer data to develop an in-house algorithm to predict consumer behavior. can create 1.2 million versions of its homepage, with flexible elements including the type of promotional messages and their position on the page. The retailer has also begun personalizing search results so that shoppers looking for a particular item will see the brands and styles they like listed first.

5. Smaller stores, shorter menus
When it comes to store size, less will be more in 2017. Retail giants such as Target, Best Buy, and Ikea are already investing in smaller-format stores to accommodate consumers’ desire for convenience and more curated selections. When people can shop online and have items delivered to their homes in a matter of hours, it takes the promise of a quick, easy experience to entice them to make the trip to an actual physical location.

Target’s new concept stores feature two entrances, one for inspiration with exclusive brands on display, and seasonal, curated items; the other is all about ease and convenience, with quick order pick-up, grab-and-go food, and a wine and beer shop.

6. Unique experiences
While many consumers begin their shopping experience online or via mobile device, most still make the purchase in the store. Many retailers are experimenting with different types of in-store experiences, such as the trending ‘showroom’ concept, hoping to entice consumers to shop in their brick-and-mortar locations.

Crate + Barrel, the homeware retailer, recently tested a program called “Mobile Tote” in which shoppers browse the shelves using store-provided tablets. Customers can use the tablets to scan barcodes and learn additional information about products, to add items to wishlists, and to enlist the help of sales associates in gathering those wishlist items.

In conclusion, there is no way to “trick” customers into being loyal. Long-term, profitable customer loyalty is awarded to those brands that anticipate consumer trends and desires and deliver in innovative ways.

In what ways is your brand delivering on these 6 trends?

Written by Gabrielle Perham, MBA