museums&MORE Winter 2010
Top Trends for 2010

It’s hard to predict exactly what consumers are going to want in the coming months, as even though consumer confidence may be on the rise, discretionary spending will be slow to follow. However, if the product is there and the price is right, they may just come on down for the sale.

Use this time to take advantage of what you already know about the customers you have, and target products and promotions to these groups. While new customers are bound to come in, don’t forget about those faithful members who you’ve come to know by name. Regardless of who walks through your door, we have included our picks for the top trends in 2010.

Tech and Teens
Do you tweet? Does your store or destination have Facebook fans? Is your Web site comprehensive? Like it or not, vending has gone viral. It’s become quite evident that at least a minimal online presence is mandatory to stay afloat in today’s retail environment.

Why? Forrester Research Inc. estimated that this year $757.4 billion of in-store sales — 28 percent of total retail sales — will be directly influenced by the Web as consumers research products online before and after their visits.

And while it may not be necessary to set up a social networking site for your store, Scott B. Davis, partner with corporate advisory and restructuring services at Grant Thornton LLP said, Integrating Internet resources with brick and mortar retailing is a necessary trend for retailers who want to be competitive with younger demographics.”

And the younger demographics are a group you need in your stores. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Generation Yers — that group born from 1978 through 2000 — will soon number close to 84 million.

“Teens are a growing target market,” said Allison Pellegrino of Cool Jewels by Phillips. “We try to stay in the loop and design what they want.”

And what they want is the convenience of being able to connect with your store in person, or on the Internet from the comfort of their own home. And, as Davis added, you can use what you learn about your customers through your online sales to develop offerings that will apply in your bricks and mortar locations.

Bigger Isn’t Better
It’s the little things — those lower cost impulse items — that can add up when it comes to sales. Instead of ornamental vases and expensive chains, suggest multiple ornaments and key chains. These smaller items allow visitors to take a piece of their experience home with them, and customers appreciate a variety of options.

As you may have noticed, customers haven’t stopped buying. They’ve just become more selective in their purchases, making it important for retailers to be flexible and innovative with products and price points. Many companies realize this strain on retailers and have been tailoring their product lines to reflect these changing times.

“People are more price sensitive now than ever before,” said Michael Kessler, senior vice president of sales, Aurora World. “We’ve been creating line extensions to meet the demand for lower price points while still maintaining our quality by offering smaller sizes in our best selling lines. This way we can maintain our brand integrity and still offer the retailers and customers a product that they can afford.”

Bright Outlook
Get out those sunglasses because color is back in style. With people looking optimistically towards the future, the days of black and gray are being replaced with energizing hues and styles — some that might look a little familiar.

“The ’80s are here again,” said Andrew Short, marketing assistant for MV Sport. “Expect to see neon colors, big over-sized graphics, plaids and stripes for 2010. Color and pattern is a trend that’s not going away.”

“Don’t be afraid of the neons and the bright bold colors,” Pellegrino agreed. “We are always trying to come up with something that stands out, and to build upon this trend, we designed something fun and in bright colors. We see a renewed sense of optimism with shoppers, and colors make people happy.”

But Still Green
And even though bright colors take center stage, consumers are still interested in going “green” and purchasing eco-friendly product. Lauren Solotoff, assistant director of merchandising for MoMA retail, said they are continuing to see an emphasis on eco-friendly and environmentally responsible design.

Gabrielle Melchionda of Mad Gabs agreed, predicting that customers will continue to see seek out U.S.-made, high quality, natural products for their stores.

“Whether this is natural personal care impulse items and natural fabrics or papers sourced in the U.S., consumers are demanding more and more that the products they purchase are different from the mainstream,” Melchionda said. “Using natural and organic ingredients for products made in the U.S., we’ve been able to not only sustain during a down economy, but grow.”

This uniqueness is something that specialty retailers can capitalize on by sourcing products locally or in the U.S. and being informed about ingredients and company history. Many times the draw of cause-related marketing — products and brands that are not only eco-friendly but that also give back— is enough to convince customers to make a purchase.

As Nader Hamda, president and CEO of Cloud B put it, “The trend should always sway towards brands that leverage their voice and market reach to help make a positive difference.” The same can be said for your store.

Toys and Plush
With money tight, consumers are looking to purchase products they’re familiar with, but that also give them the most bang for their buck. If a toy or a game can be both fun and functional, it has more appeal.

“Parents are looking not only for product that will entertain their children, but also educate them,” Kessler said. “In 2010, we are on trend with sights and sound — much of our new product is in bright, vibrant colors and many feature fun and entertaining sounds.”

Companies like Thames & Kosmos were founded on this philosophy, as they offer over 50 science kits that place an emphasis on teaching relevant science relevant science through hands-on experiment. It’s this mix of interactivity, learning, stability and technology that help consumers feel like they’re purchasing not just a toy, but an experience.
And in the end, it’s the shopping experience that will win them over. So for 2010 my biggest trend suggestion? Get inventive, get resourceful and get noticed.”

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