Analysts have described the past five years as the most transformative the retail industry has ever experienced. The shift to online and a preference of having experiences over buying “things” have forced brands and retailers to re-imagine their businesses.
At this week’s Mapic event, held from Nov. 15 to 17 in Cannes at the Palais de Festival, attendees will garner insights about the latest global retail trends, which includes growth of the food and beverage segment. Here, Nathalie Depetro, director of Mapic Markets, shares her insights on current trends as well as opportunities in the market.
WWD: As industry stakeholders come to Mapic to “shop the world,” what are some of the global trends that they will learn about?
Nathalie Depetro: The retail landscape has seen a lot of change globally in the last few years as e-commerce, new technologies and other disruptors have reshaped the way people think about and utilize physical retail space. This will continue to be top-of-mind as we focus on food and beverage at this year’s Mapic. The key word to think about for retail overall is experience. What kinds of experiences are retailers offering in order to bring people to their stores? Whether you’re talking about a restaurant, a fashion designer or a tech outlet, the public is looking for an experience that incentivizes them to get off the internet and walk into your store.
WWD: What is driving consumer demand with the food-and-beverage trend? And has it replaced a desire to spend money on apparel and accessories?
N.D.: Food halls are definitely a driving force for food-and-beverage concepts these days, as the public grows more and more interested in trying new concepts, eating “local,” and seeing a number of options in one place. Successful and innovative halls like Eataly have created an entirely new way to look at dining, and developers and restaurateurs have been increasingly capitalizing on this trend.
The food-and-beverage trend hasn’t replaced a desire (or need) to spend money on apparel and accessories — people still buy those things, but the transactions have largely moved online. In fact, grocery shopping is also transitioning to an online-based transaction, with services like FreshDirect and Peapod growing in popularity — and it will be interesting to see how Whole Foods continues to evolve online following its purchase by Amazon.
What restaurants have always had that other retail concepts now look for are ways to catch up on the experience of dining out. It has always been fun to meet up with friends for drinks or bring the family to a great restaurant. The desire for that will never go away, and food-and-beverage retailers will continue to evolve to keep the experience fresh and interesting.
WWD: How has food and beverage evolved over the past few years? Are we seeing growth with “luxury food?”
N.D.: Food-and-beverage retail used to be relatively easily segmented into fast food, fast-casual dining and high-end restaurant experiences, but what we’ve seen in recent years is that luxury food concepts have extended into the lower-priced segments, where the focus is on offering quality food at a reasonable price. The general public have become more informed consumers and as such are much more conscious of where their food comes from. They want to know that the food they’re eating is fresh and as locally sourced and conflict-free as possible, and this has created an expansion of what it means to be a fast food or a fast-casual restaurant.
As a result, we’ve seen seen decades-old mainstays like McDonald’s and Applebee’s struggle, while newer concepts like Shake Shack and food halls represent the new and improved generation.
WWD: The global retail market has experienced many challenges these past few years. But what opportunities exist?
N.D.: An abundance of opportunity exists for those retailers that are willing to challenge the status quo and innovate the space to respond to the shifting needs of their audiences. These days, creativity is key. Buyers are wise to traditional sales and marketing tactics and are looking to align themselves with brands that reflect both their personal lifestyles and the world around them. Brands that endure will be the ones that become irreplaceable parts of their buyers’ lives beyond the swipe of the credit card — it’s about fostering an ongoing conversation on social media and elsewhere online that translates to a memorable experience face-to-face.
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