In luxury, tech hit hard – Instagram, Pinterest and WeChat are now names as readily dropped as any Paris designer. And trends are shifting faster than ever, with streetwear having a serious influence, younger consumers demanding to join the party and new global markets’ tastes changing the game. Brands in the luxury space who have picked up the pace and adapted to the times are doing well; those who have been slower to embrace the new paradigm are struggling to keep their famous brands relevant.
But the market is more than just luxury goods; sportswear has moved the dial from function to fashion, thereby boosting big names like Nike and Adidas. High street retailers are under an increasing threat from tech-enabled internet shopping, with social commerce and online influencers feeding the move away from bricks-and-mortar. Some physical retailers are now fighting back, though, with a move towards curated, ‘special’ customer environments rather than just clothes rails, mirrors and pop music. Working with their strengths to provide consumers with a memorable, shareable in-person experience is something that no website, no matter how sophisticated, can match.
Meanwhile, there are some kinds of retail that can only be tackled with physical stores, like IKEA’s furniture and homeware business. Right? Wrong. The Swedish brand has quietly chipped away at establishing a credible online presence and has now evolved to include a subscription model. It’s more proof that while the winds of change have blown some retail businesses off course, the brand-led, customer focused ones are managing to navigate the changes with aplomb.