artificial intelligence, brand marketing digital advertising

Artificial intelligence. Sustainability. “Lifestyle” brands.

Those are expected to be among the leading trends for retail and fashion brands in 2017, according to a study conducted by big data firm Edited, which conducted an analysis of more than 520 million global online products to create several key predictions.

Emily Bezzant, head analyst at Edited, which counts Ralph Lauren, eBay and Asos as among its clients, said leveraging AI will be to offer consumers greater personalization. “The savviest retailers are taking advantage of advancements in machine learning, deep analytics and AI for a more targeted and personalized shopping experience,” Bezzant noted. “Customers now have longer digital footprints — shopping histories, social media profiles and interests — giving retailers easy access to offer a tailored selection of products.”

Companies such as The North Face and 1-800-Flowers.com “are already using AI to provide personalized recommendations. On a product level, retailers are also offering monogrammed accessories or handbags to meet the consumer’s individual style preferences,” she said.

Regarding positioning of brands as a lifestyle, the analyst said driving this is the “explosion of subcategories such as ath-leisure,” which Bezzant noted will garner $83 billion in global sales by 2020. “[This] highlights how retailers are evolving into lifestyle brands,” she said. “Many brands have launched activewear/ath-leisure lines [including Kate Spade, Zara] or collaborated with celebrities [Adidas/Kanye West, Ivy Park/Beyoncé].

“In 2017, retailers will push further into niche and smaller markets to cater to consumers’ lifestyles,” Bezzant said. “Retailers will also expand into premium services in brick-and-mortar stores — think sipping prosecco or going to a grooming bar — to keep consumers in store longer and offer greater differentiation.”

On the sustainability front, Bezzant said with the growth of the consumer movement “for more sustainably produced items, in 2017 retailers will look at how they can provide better quality products that last longer to align with consumers’ personal values.”

Retailers such as H&M and Zara “have already started to make progress — Edited’s data has found that the median price of their sustainable collections are $17.99 and $9.90 respectively,” she said.

Lastly, the analyst said retailers “will use the latest mobile innovations to capture consumer attention” in 2017. As consumers choose mobile devices over desktops for all of their online tasks, Bezzant said retailers will shift efforts to mobile.

“As the smartphone becomes the dominant platform, retailers are relying on social media and the latest applications in virtual reality to promote their wares,” Bezzant noted. “Whether it’s delivering a 360-degree viewing experience so that a person feels like they are live at fashion week or using virtual reality to see how a product fits on a person’s body, mobile innovations will provide a unique immersion experience to the consumer.”

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