In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen a store that can drive itself to your doorstep, Walmart buying a (highly disputed) 77% stake in Flipkart, Zara’s skirt slammed for looking like a Thai grandpa’s uniform… and, of course, USD 25 billion of online shopping just in one day.
It’s hard to keep up, we know.
The battle is real for everyone. The in-store manager frets about e-commerce luring shoppers away, while e-commerce players scramble for the most efficient last-mile strategy.
And the biggest question everyone wants to know the answer to –
how do you keep delighting Asian shoppers who seem to be more connected, better informed and more demanding by the day?
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If you’ve read our Global Future of Retail report, you’ll know that this publication is not about matter-of-fact macro-trends on the state of retail. There are already countless PDFs out there on those trends: smart stores, Tier-III/-IV opportunities, catering to aging shoppers in Asia – the list goes on.
Instead, we are highlighting the five tactical opportunities you can tap into, to fuel your next winning retail innovation. These trends point out where shopper expectations are headed to, and what they will start demanding from you.
1. ZERO-WASTE SHOPPING
A consumption lifestyle that is kinder to the planet is coming to mainstream shoppers.
2. MAGIC POINT OF SALE
Consumers now expect to summon retail brands as they would a genie from a lamp.
3. FOOT SOLDIERS
From Indonesia to India, retail giants re-invent small kiosks to better serve locals.
Gaming is a playful new tactic in the race to seize Asian shoppers’ attention.
5. OMNICHANNEL WELLNESS
Why it’s time for retailers to embed wellness boosters at every touch point.
Ready to dive right in? Good luck!
This is just a slice of the full report! Clients of our Premium Service get the full PDF version of the Future of Retail in Asia, featuring more trends and innovation examples. Oh, and they also get access to our framework of 16 mega-trends, plus 120+ consumer trends and 15,000 hand-curated innovation examples.
UnPackt - Packaging-free supermarket offers lower prices. —
May 2018 saw UnPackt: a zero-waste grocery store, open in Singapore, in the Ang Mo Kio commuter district. Shelves are stocked with un-packaged goods and customers are encouraged to bring their own containers. Dried food and cleaning products were initially available, with plans to expand to fresh fruits and vegetables. As there are no packaging costs, prices at UnPackt are lower than conventional supermarkets.
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Tesco Malaysia - Supermarket bags provide discounts with every reuse. — Honoring April 2018’s Earth Day, Tesco Malaysia unveiled special re-usable bags giving shoppers discounts every time they use them until the end of 2018. The bags feature images of endangered marine creatures, alongside a barcode which can be scanned in order to give discounts. The bags are made from recycled plastic, and can be replaced for free should they wear out.
City Mart Myanmar - Kit encourages shoppers to reduce plastic bag usage. — In September 2017, Myanmar-based supermarket City Mart launched the City Hero Kit: a package including a reusable water bottle to use instead of plastic bottles; a reusable shopping bag to use instead of plastic bags; and City Hero badges. The initiative was launched to address the fact that about 1981 tonnes of trash per year is produced in Yangon, and to encourage consumers to be more mindful about recycling.
We recently announced a new series of Global Trend Events, 10 half-day sessions taking place across Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America from August through November 2018.
The pan-Asian leg of our global tour will kick-off in Singapore with dates following in Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Hong Kong.
WeChat - Access locally relevant businesses and services without downloading apps. —
In January 2018, WeChat celebrated one year since the launch of its mini programs: digital services that, unlike apps, don't need to be downloaded. WeChat users can discover nearby mini programs, from local restaurants to bike-share platforms, and are prompted with program features relevant to their searches. 580,000 mini programs were launched in the first year.
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Google - Smart speaker launches in Singapore and India. — April 2018 saw Google launch Home and Home Mini in Singapore and India. Google also rolled out a developer platform, allowing brands to build services that integrate with Google Assistant. In Singapore, local brands (including Singapore Press Holdings, Singapore Airlines, OCBC Bank, the National Library Board and Bus Uncle) plan to bring their services to the platform. As more consumers adopt smart devices, these will act as new brand storefronts, similar to Amazon Alexa in the US.
Alibaba and InTime - AR mirror allows consumers to buy beauty products at restrooms. — February 2018 saw Alibaba partner with Chinese shopping malls InTime to launch an augmented reality restroom mirror. Via the mirror, women using the facilities can virtually test make-up looks and, if they like the products, can make purchases at an adjacent vending machine using a QR code link on their phone. The vending machine includes cosmetics brands such as Benefit, Lancome and Shu Uemura.
JD.com - E-commerce giant to open over 1,000 stores a day. —
In April 2018, JD.com announced plans to open more than 1,000 stores a day in China within the next year. The venture is part of a wider plan, launched in 2017, to open one million stores within five years, with half based in rural areas. With most of the 50,000 daily applicants being migrant workers returning to their villages or small towns, Liu said JD Finance can provide them with loans to open stores, allowing them to earn over USD 1275 a month.
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Kioson - Partnership addresses logistics infrastructure issues in rural areas — February 2018 saw Indonesian e-commerce startup Kioson announce plans to introduce its kiosks into postal service locations for the national postal service. Customers will be able to send and receive packages via the kiosks, with the aim of addressing logistics problems in rural areas and increasing footfall for kiosk owners. At launch, Kioson had secured more than 30,000 kiosk partners.
Walmart India - Walmart India to launch Cash & Carry in Mumbai — In September 2017, Walmart India announced plans to open a Fulfillment Centre in Mumbai, aiming to cater to small businesses with the Cash & Carry business. The FC will create over 1,500 direct and indirect jobs to the city, and gain small kirana stores, resellers and other local businesses access to relevant merchandise remotely. Once the FC is open, Walmart India plans to set up touchpoints in the city, where members can virtually browse the stores, and non-members can register instantly.
Maserati x Alibaba - Maserati’s mobile game attracts consumers to its smart showroom. — In March 2018, luxury automaker Maserati partnered with Alibaba’s Tmall to convert two of its outposts into smart dealerships. Maserati also developed a racing game for Alibaba’s Mobile Taobao, with in-game features that encourage players to visit their local store. The store reception then uses facial recognition to identify customers who walk in from their in-game avatars, and provides them with personalized services.
Chanel - Luxury brand launched pop up arcades. — Between March and May 2018, Chanel toured the Coco Game Center around Asia (locations included Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong). At each pop-up, participants could enjoy classic arcade games - including racing, bubble and crane claw games - and win selected Chanel products. Visitors could also test and purchase products or book appointments with Chanel makeup artists.
McDonald’s - Global brands embed ads into viral Chinese mobile game — McDonald’s began to display adverts as part of the popular WeChat game Tiao Yi Tiao (meaning ‘Jump jump’), in Q2 2018. With other big brands following, the Chinese messaging platform’s game reached 100 million by January 2018, having only launched a month before. Players move a jumping block between platforms, scoring a point per jump: landing on a McDonald’s block and staying there for a few seconds earns 20 points, and images of the fast food chain’s hamburgers and French fries appear.
CureFit - Wellness startup provides services across fitness, food, and healthcare —
Wellness startup provides services across fitness, food, and healthcare
CureFit is an India-based, omnichannel startup operating within the wellness space. It provides services across three verticals: Cult.fit, its brick-and-mortar fitness centers; Eat.fit, a healthy meal delivery subscription; and Mind.fit, an app-based mental wellness program. April 2018 saw the launch of Care.fit in Bangalore, a primary healthcare center focusing on prescribing long-term healthy lifestyle solutions.
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Pure - Wellness brand launches health pack — Q1 2018 saw wellness and gym chain Pure roll out its Power Pack package in Hong Kong, giving consumers benefits across its fitness, dining and apparel brands. The package includes a month’s access to all Pure Fitness and Yoga locations, two complimentary guest passes, as well as two HKD 200 vouchers for local health-food establishment Nood Food and Pure Apparel. The Power Pack is priced at HKD 1,388 (USD 177).
Ceramiracle - Cafe and retail offering promotes gut health. — November 2017 saw California-based Ceramiracle open the Ageless Café in Kuala Lumpur. Located inside the skincare brand’s first flagship store, the café promotes the connection between gut health and skin via a selection of ingredients chosen for their beauty-enhancing properties. The range includes 30 organic teas, snacks and pastries to combat specific skincare concerns, including the Truly Asia tea which contains papaya, pineapple, mango and butterfly pea.
The five trends featured here present five key new directions in the future of retail. Of course, these five trends represent just a small fraction of the trends currently reshaping the consumer landscape.
At TrendWatching, we’re obsessed with those trends. And we’ve been tracking them across the globe and in 16 B2C industries for longer than we care to remember.
Clients of our Premium Service have access to our entire Trend Framework, built around the 16 mega-trends that define modern consumerism. Beneath those sit 120+ actionable trends, all illustrated with 15,000+ hand-curated, best practice innovations. Plus a host of simple, powerful ideation tools to help turn trends into concrete new ideas.
It’s an entire trend department ready to go. If you’re serious about trends, it’s a no-brainer.
We’ve stressed this all along but just in case you missed it: these trends are opportunities. Opportunities to create your next retail product, service, platform, app, experience, or business model. Opportunities to delight existing consumers and win new ones.
That means they’re useless if you don’t act.
But you don’t have to start with a two-day ideation session, a week-long hackathon, or a pitch to the CEO (that can all come later). Here’s a minimum viable first step. Just take a single innovation example featured here back to your team and ask one simple question: when people see this, what will they start to expect from us?
That question encapsulates everything that’s important about Trend-Driven Innovation. That is, that game-changing innovations – such as those featured in this report – create new customer expectations. That those expectations once created will spread, and eventually find you. And that if you can see those expectations coming in advance and innovate to meet them, you can win!
So start with one innovation and a simple question. Once the debate is raging, hit them with some trend theory and win some kudos. Do it today!
And good luck :)
This Trend Briefing has many hands on it. A huge thanks to the team that pulled this together with such positivity and enthusiasm, especially: Nathania Christy, Maxwell Luthy, Vicki Loomes, Alida Urban, Vicky Kim and Nikki Ritmeijer, and also Harry Metzger, Harvey Gomez, Jonathan Herbst, Lisa Feierstein, and Tash Cohen. THANK YOU!