Sparks & Honey space briefing on Nov. 8 in New York.

Outer space may seem abstract, but its pull is having major influence on the future of retail.

A recent report by Sparks & Honey, a culture and trend forecasting agency, revealed that space may hold solutions — as well as a vast array of possibilities for brands and retailers.

For starters, the agency noted that space is an excellent source for storytelling inspiration. Moreover, Sparks & Honey described that with satellites streaming views of the earth, the health of retail establishments will be able to be better monitored — for example, parking lot traffic. And, according to the agency, this increased perspective — in tandem with shopper data — has the potential to result in insurmountable business solutions of the likes the industry has never seen before.

The report indicated that the astro tourism industry will boom over the next decade — and more fashion brands and retailers are bound to tap in. According to a spokesperson from the agency, more Americans watched the eclipse this year than the Super Bowl, meaning that fashion companies would be wise to start gearing up for astro-wear collections.

What’s more, space technology is evidently retail’s new “seal of quality.” The report described that 36 percent of Americans would be more likely to purchase an item if it was inspired or created by technology developed by outer space exploration, and 47 percent of Americans ranked NASA as the most trusted institution above the media, nonprofits, organized religion and other government-related organizations. Accordingly, these results suggest that fashion retailers and brands that adopt space tech will be well-positioned in relation to credibility.

According to Eve Pollet, cultural strategist at Sparks & Honey, fashion brands are already catching on. “Brands are either designing for space tourism or tapping into storytelling with themes from space,” she confirmed. “Chanel, Coach, Gucci, Nike, Nick Graham — astronaut Buzz Aldrin walked the runway — and more have tapped into space themes this year.” She added that NASA logos were seen on apparel at leading retailers such as Old Navy and Urban Outfitters.

Anna Rosenblatt, Sparks & Honey’s vice president of cultural strategy, added that the concept of space is also taking the beauty industry by storm — from space being engaged as a visual motif with “galactic-inspired makeup designs” to actual space matter being included as product ingredient. She cited brands such as Glamglow and Milk Makeup among those featuring meteorite powder in their products.

As to why space is suddenly so on-trend, Rosenblatt reflected that consumer gravitation toward space represents a type of escapism, and this diversion offers a point of comfort in today’s often uncertain world.

Perhaps most notably is that outer space solutions offer retailers and brands data from a new vantage point.

Pollet expressed that satellites can offer “bigger picture input” into the micro transactions which occur on a daily basis, reiterating that they offer a method in which to detect retail health, as well as the ability to predict stock prices. “The company Orbital Insight has been tracking the health of more than 100 U.S.-based retailers. They use artificial intelligence to analyze satellite imagery of parking lots [provided by Planet] to count the cars at each location,” she cited.

“By counting the number of cars in the parking lots of each chain location, Orbital Insight can estimate the retailer’s sales numbers before official statistics are released,” she continued. “For instance, Orbital Insight discovered that J.C. Penney car counts were down 5 percent year-over-year in Q4 of 2016, which mirrors in-store sales during the same period, which were down 0.7 percent.”

What’s more, space tech and tools also empower businesses to better manage supply chains and predict seasonal weather patterns. “Satellites and remote sensing can manage crop yields, connect to supply chains and even predict seasonal weather patterns that allow stores to stock smartly,” she affirmed.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Pollet forecasted that in the future she can imagine intersections between earthly retail and space becoming even deeper. Among possibilities: cheap satellite data solutions in combination with shopper and emotional data to better foretell human behavior, and regular microgravity production and testing for benefits on Earth. “When launch prices come down, we will be able to test products and manufacture certain products in space,” she explained. “Certain materials react and grow better in microgravity like fiber optic cables.”

Sparks & Honey also recently held an event in New York to uncover how outer space affects the fashion and beauty industries. A panel of experts — from a former NASA astronaut to representatives from Cadillac and Chanel — came together to discuss the vast possibilities of space. From discussions on the increasing accessibility of space, to brand storytelling opportunities and satellite data use, the consensus was clear: space is giving brands and retailers good reason to look upwards, and seek inspiration from the sky.

For More WWD Business News, See:

Lure Holiday Shoppers Via Enhanced Store Experiences

Rebecca Minkoff Releases Line of ‘Smart’ Bags

Report: Holiday Shopping Insights Revealed

Report: Physical Retail Far From Obsolete

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus