3 Key Takeaways from Retail West Vancouver 2019

3 Key Takeaways from Retail West Vancouver 2019
Monday, October 28, 2019
Justin Teng

On October 16, 2019, leaders from Western Canada’s most exciting retail brands took the stage during the Retail Council of Canada’s Retail West 2019 Conference at Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency. The day was packed full of speaker and panel sessions from brands including Aritzia, Saje, Best Buy, Save on Foods, Marks’, and many more—all gathered to discuss the latest marketing trends and insights in the world of retail.

In case you missed the event, here’s a quick recap on some of the key takeaways from the day:

  1. Generation Z is taking over from millennials as the top target demographic

    We’re at a point where millennials are slowly shifting out of focus, making way for a younger generation of consumers, who are being raised in a time where technology has imprinted a certain standard of convenience and expectations. For certain industries more than others a brand’s success will depend on its understanding of the needs and behaviour of “Gen Z”.

    Growing up with AI has instilled an expectation amongst this generation that everything is being curated for them, and that brands knowing “who I am” and “what I want” is just a default way of life. Yet Gen Z-ers are in a state of pessimism when it comes to their outlook on the future, with the fear that they will own less and be heavily impacted by external factors such as climate change. The youth are fighting back by supporting brands with eco-conscious values. 11% of surveyed consumers cite “protecting the environment” as a reason to avoid a brand that violates their personal values and 89% of surveyed internet users ages 18-23 feel that brands should aim to do good in the world.

    Lush highlighted their vision to support this as President Peter Higgins boldly stated their goal to “create a cosmetics revolution to save the planet” during his session on the main stage.

    Man and woman sitting on stage at a conference with blue curtains behind them

    Brands are thus expected to be relievers of “Gen-Z anxiety” and will find success in being able to empathize with their needs and their values. With Gen Z-ers influencing 36% of household purchases, and 48% influencing perceived product feature importance within a family, they are certainly a force that can’t be ignored.

  2. Talk to your in-store teams for valuable customer insight

    Aritzia’s VP Marketing Sally Parrott confidently stated that “your stores are your front lines, try to learn from the people working there”. Brands who are looking to create an experience for their customers need to start with their employees on the ground. There is a tendency to look strictly at the data, but all too often it’s easy to forget that your employees and customer service reps are the ones that are engaged with your customers on a daily basis.

    Man and woman on stage beside a screen with an advertisement.

    These days there is a lot of focus on building the right team and creating an environment that focuses on the wellness and recognition of your own people. Getting the right people can sometimes mean hiring people that are smarter than you—a strategy can only be as great as the people who execute it.

  3. Loyalty programs and personalization are key

    With all the ways technology has impacted consumer behaviour, James Pelletier, Best Buy points out that brands are “trying to follow a path to purchase that’s not linear”. When it comes to marketing to your customers, different media attracts different people and Dan Howe, President at Morerewards.ca emphasized this by adding that “as marketers, we have to leverage all the touch points we have.”

    In a time where brands are striving to champion one-to-one personalized marketing, there’s a lot of love right now for loyalty and rewards programs. These programs typically help brands build a direct relationship with their customers while invoking the sentiment that they are recognized and valued by the brand. Surveys showed that 76% of loyalty operators believe loyalty programs impact how often a customer shops with a brand and 57% of loyalty members agreed.

    Bar graph of how much loyalty members vs loyalty program operators worldwide think loyalty programs impact consumer buying behavior

    Loyalty not only adds the ability to personalize the experience for each of your customers, but it also provides brands with another layer of data that can be tremendously valuable when it comes to understanding their customer’s behaviour.

    As technology continues to evolve through machine learning, and AI, personalization will only become more apparent. As the Saje Wellness team role played their personalized customer experience on the main stage, they demonstrated that the brand was rooted in their belief that “personalization should be personal”.

With another successful event in the books, we’re excited to see what’s in store for upcoming events in 2020. As technology continues to evolve, and disruption follows, these thought-provoking conversations between leaders in the industry help drive a better understanding of the landscape, and ultimately shape our experiences for years to come.

If you find yourself heading to a conference this year, please feel free to look out for the DAC team, we would love to have a conversation with you! Or get in touch today to find out more about our approach to local search.