If there’s one takeaway from 2022, it’s that nothing is off the table when it comes to connecting with your consumer.
A year defined by a uniquely volatile environment for brick-and-mortar retail, 2022 began with the effects of Omicron raging, only to be replaced by a combination of economic headwinds that limited visits and affected revenue. But the year also saw a few key trends and market shifts — from the rise of retail media networks to critical changes in shopping center tenancy, new retail partnerships and shifts in migration patterns — that could dictate an evolution of retail success in the year to come.
In the latest WWD-hosted webinar, Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at Placer.ai, joined Arthur Zaczkiewicz, executive editor of strategic content development at WWD, to discuss what retail will look like in 2023 and dive into the latest location analytics to examine the trends driving success, the retailers leading the way and the tactics they are leveraging.
Reflecting on the busiest shopping season of the year, Chernofsky shared Placer.ai’s holiday data, which compared weekly visits to overall retail nationwide from 2019 to 2022. Over the four years, he said, it’s important to think about the early shopping phenomenon as a starting point and how it has changed consumer behavior. In 2021, consumers received rather aggressive communication reflecting worries about the supply chain, labor shortages and shipping delays. Shopping spiked in October for Target, Walmart, Best Buy and many others — a trend that continued to a slightly lesser degree in 2022 even without the same level of communication from retailers.
This early shopping, Chernofsky said had clear benefits for the retailer and predicts will be likely to continue in years to come. It’s a training of the consumer of sorts, who has started to expect holiday shopping to begin in October.
“The idea that now there is this prelude that takes place in October is really significant,” Chernofsky said. “And I think what’s interesting is what we will see next year from a creativity [standpoint]. The first year it happens out of necessity, and it shows us that there’s still demand. Now in 2023 and beyond, it’s going to be about who can take advantage.”
Another key callout seen in the 2022 holiday shopping season was a noticeable decline in Black Friday weekend activity. It was a surprise to many. Numbers were below both 2019 and 2021 findings. In part, Placer.ai’s data shows that this was due to consumers shopping with higher intent, while also being met with a lot of stock. Consumers were able to visit fewer places, with purpose and get what they wanted.
Also to consider is the element of omnichannel where consumers were able to supplement all in-person shopping with online orders. Many shoppers are enjoying emerging discovery triggers on shoppable videos on TikTok while others are drawn to the “bells and whistles” within the store. Retail media networks to provide opportunities to impact the sales process when a consumer enters a location. Ultimately, “there’s nothing that should be off the table.”
“It’s a question of, is there a place for us to reach the right audience and where and when,” Chernofsky said. “Can you swing for the fences? I think with the ability to think differently about audience segmentation and asking how to reach them and how we can bring the right products and messages to them, the more innovation you’ll see and, therefore, kind of the likeliest impact on sales, brand awareness, brand affinity and more.”
In late December, Chernofsky said it’s important that retailers think about the best long-term interest of the business and who the audience is. For many consumers, especially this year, value is of the utmost importance but for others offering discounts won’t move the needle. If you don’t know who your audience is and what they value, he said, you’re likely to make a decision that has a negative impact in the long term.
To learn more, Chernofsky encouraged businesses to try Placer.ai’s location analytics solution with a free version on its site.