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Instead of trying to save an old-fashioned high street that is no longer relevant, it’s up to retail brands and their agencies to listen to their customers and offer the products, services and experiences they want.
The high street is dying. Thousands of stores are closing their doors and yet another retail giant is packing up shop for good. Retail is experiencing a huge period of change and the press are whipping us into a frenzy of empty shops and unemployment. But whilst we might pay lip service to mourning a high street steeped in history, and the more emotional issue of people losing their jobs, do consumers really care?
Shoppers have never had it better. Online shopping is the antidote to modern life; offering convenience, choice and a shift of power back to consumers like never before. Like any good marketer, online has identified their customers’ needs and delivered an attractive solution. In contrast, the high street has become bland and homogenous, offering us the same decaying stores in every town.
As an agency that creates ideas that influence purchase decisions, we wanted to understand more. Not more from the latest industry figures but more from the customers we set out to influence. So, we asked them about their shopping behaviours and what they believe the future of the high street is.
What consumers want is a high street turned on its head; no longer competing in the same space as online but playing on its strengths in a way online never can. We all crave experience, social interaction, inspiration; it’s what makes us human and it’s here the high street can start to win again. Some online retailers are starting to recognise this as they open their own bricks and mortar outlets, although Made are keen to emphasise this theirs is not a store, preferring a ‘constantly evolving design hub and event space’. Stores are the past and this is the future.
The desire for local independents is a strong driver for change, with consumers recognising the need for stores to offer something different, to be part of and give back to local communities. Wouldn’t it be interesting if M&S looked at the way independents deliver uniqueness and authenticity for customers and created local stores? Stores offering regional product ranges and services that enhanced and supported the local community?
Instead of trying to save an old-fashioned high street that is no longer relevant and, quite frankly, lazy, it’s now up to retail brands and their agencies to listen to their customers and offer them the products, services and experiences they want or else risk losing them forever.
Emily is a Business Director at award-winning agency TBK Group, an independent brand and retail consultancy obsessed with retail brands and brands in retail. Emily has a wealth of experience in retail, working with clients including Boots and Dixons Carphone, as well as for McDonald’s and Sainsbury’s in previous client roles.
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