Every shopping journey begins with a spark of inspiration. And while where and how we shop may continue to evolve, the need to inspire will remain and perhaps become more important than ever. In this post, we will break down three key sources of inspiration for consumers as we prepare for the future of shopping.

1) Inspiring Algorithm Shoppers with Novelty

We are living in a time of micro-eras where the pace of trends has gone from generational to momentary. With social media as our most universal platform, it is the algorithms that ultimately define the cultural zeitgeist and make it glaringly clear who is on trend and who is not. Keeping up and riding the viral wave of trends can feel overwhelming for both the consumer and the marketer.

Embedded shopping elements on social media enable consumer participation in trends easier than ever before. It is now possible to view a TikTok fashion trend, purchase the product within the app, and begin to participate in the community all in the same day.

The way for companies to attract algorithm shoppers is to create their own unique waves. Despite the appeal of riding a viral wave, latching onto a fleeting trend may cause your brand to be washed away in the wake of a new one. The brands that have seen long-term success on social media are those that have been able to stay true to their unique purpose. A viral moment can be derived from just about anything and predicting one is futile. Just like luck, the only way to achieve it is setting yourself up for success and waiting for that lucky bounce. Equip your team with social media locals, not tourists, and contribute to the algorithm with unique perspective and offerings as opposed to reacting to it.

Brands to watch. Bottega Venetta, the Milan-based luxury fashion brand, removed itself from all social platforms in one fell swoop. In a world of intense social media consumption, it was an entirely unique choice to ditch the platforms and focus on traditional mediums. Soon after, Lush followed this move, warning consumers of the negative mental health implications social media brings.

2) Inspiring Ethical Advocates with Proof They Can Celebrate

Shopping for sustainable products has grown in popularity and importance over recent years, especially amongst younger generations. Research revealed that 33% of Canadians were willing to pay a premium for ethical and environmental considerations, and 34% for brands known for their sustainability practices. Consumers who are putting in this extra effort to seek out sustainable companies are wearing their purchases, both literally and metaphorically, as a badge of honour.

Sustainable living is another form of self-expression that many short-sighted companies have tried to capitalize on with green washing. As a result, consumers bring a far more critical eye to sustainability claims. When a company proves itself to be authentically sustainable in its operations, consumers aim to spread the word through peer dialogue, brand loyalty, online ambassadorship, and more.

Companies can garner ethical advocates through transparent showmanship. Build a trusted reputation by becoming transparent about how a product is made, sold, and delivered. Allow your consumers to feel the benefits of their sustainable purchase through clear proof points of their actions and ensure that they can confidently share with their peers without the fear of misinformation.

Brands to Watch. Cocokind is a skincare company that has prioritized transparency of proof points in their sustainability vision. They showcase unfiltered skin from their team and regularly break down what trendy ingredients, like retinol and hyaluronic acid, really are and how or why to use them. Their labels explain what’s in the product and why, its carbon footprint, and recycling instructions. These easy to find proof points are highly appealing to consumers seeking a product they can trust in a commonly distrusted industry.

3) Inspiring Human Connection by Amplifying Unique Shopping Occasions

The pandemic has generated a distinct separation between consumers and brands. Transactions turn automated, deliveries go contact-free, and self-check outs became preferred over cashiers. In all of this, we have lost the critical element of human connection.

64% of Canadians have grown frustrated by the online experiences currently offered and express a desire to return to in-person shopping. As a result, three quarters of global executives surveyed say they plan to prioritize the in-store retail experience with the goal of improving personalization and customer connection.

Companies wishing to bridge the humanity gap will amplify the benefits of distinct shopping occasions. Shopping occasions refer to the objective and context a consumer is doing their shopping. It is up to the company to understand which occasions they fit within the consumers’ schedule. At a high level, shopping occasions could be split into routine and exploratory. Consumers have normalized routine shopping through online mediums solely focussed on convenience and efficiency. This leaves companies with the opportunity to reserve physical spaces for exploratory occasions. It is here that companies can amplify their human connection and extend the brand ethos with consumers through a variety of efforts such as two-way inquisitiveness, community fostering, and lifestyle enabling that ultimately inspires return visits.

Brands to watch. Luxury automaker, Genesis created a physical retail space dedicated to depicting the rich Korean culture it is derived from and the purpose it strives to serve. Within this space, consumers can interact with various artistic constructions and soak in the inspiration. By interacting, consumers are developing an emotional bond, whether conscious or not.