How to thrive in uncertain times

In an uncertain operating environment, it can be difficult to reach confident decisions about your strategic direction. It is now more important than ever for businesses to stay ahead of emerging trends. 

Focus on niche offers

In an experience-led world, consumers will reward businesses with distinct and exciting offers. A focus on quality, not quantity, is key. Single-item menus, multi-sensory experiences or new cuisines will help boost footfall in restaurants and bars. Likewise, consumer demand for holidays that reflect their hobbies and interests, such as wellness breaks or gastronomic tours, is unlikely to slow down. For retailers, there’s an opportunity to pare back inventory or create more clearly defined spaces that excite your customers.

Blur the boundary between online and offline

Consumers will continue to expect frictionless shopping experiences as they move between online and offline worlds. They want their online encounters to reflect those they get in-store. And they want their in-store interactions to be just as easy as those they get on websites. Yet the relationship between bricks and mortar experiences and online purchasing is still causing a headache for many. This will need to be addressed. Big data and analytics will help retailers grasp what’s working and what’s not.

Avoid knee-jerk discounting

As consumers become more cost-conscious, it can be tempting to reduce prices. But businesses must be careful. The wrong discounting approach can erode your brand and your margins. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy. They track sales periods using readily downloadable apps and only buy when prices drop. Introducing targeted discounts for a fixed period will help protect your position. Businesses need to plan, link discounts to customer loyalty data and protect their full-price margins if they are to weather a landscape where budgeting becomes standard practice for many.

Make VIP status the norm

Consumers have grown tired of conventional loyalty schemes. Today’s savvy shoppers and diners want more than discounts and freebies. Attention should shift toward simple yet fresh loyalty schemes that deliver tiered and personalised offers. Loyalty schemes that target their most valuable customers with premium, VIP-only, exclusive or private offers will heighten brand appeal and drive visits and spend. Delivering the occasional, disruptive surprise will also help drive short-term gains as well as generate buzz and brand warmth.

Invest in time-saving technologies

Today’s consumers expect seamless shopping experiences. Around a quarter would be prepared to pay a premium if they could use time-saving technologies to buy products and services. Frictionless payments are just the beginning. Could customers pre-order products, experiences or food and drink via an app? Or could robotics allow menu items to be prepared, cooked and delivered faster, help guests check-in more easily, or help customers quickly find the in-store items they’re looking for. Ensure your technology helps, not hinders, tomorrow’s customers.

Relook at your supply chain

Sometimes consumers are willing to spend more. Our research shows 27 per cent of Millennials would pay a premium of 10 per cent or more for ethical, environmentally responsible or Fairtrade products and services. Could you do more to green your supply chain? Or, if you’re already performing on this front, are you doing enough to tell customers about it? Millennials are some of the most environmentally and ethically aware consumers. Take steps to meet their expectations and you’ll be rewarded.

Think about tech-enhanced experiences

Emerging technologies, such as robotics, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, will soon transform the consumer experience. Tomorrow’s diners will want to discover the date and time an ingredient was picked or caught at a touch of a screen, without speaking to a server. Virtual reality headsets will allow shoppers and holidaymakers to experience products or travel destinations before they buy. And augmented reality will add a new dimension to high street experiences. Research innovations so you’re ready to be part of a tech-enabled future.

Download our full 'Who are today's consumers?' report.