The Topline Retail Trends and WOW Brands of 2014: What Career-Minded Students Should Know

Today’s marketplace looks very different from the marketplace 10 years ago. Then, retailers dictated what consumers had access to, which was predominantly through brick and mortar stores. The importance of multiple channels emerged soon after as retailers began to diversify, but those channels were less connected.

As early as two years ago, cross-channeling became the buzzword as the link between the physical store, the on-line segment, catalogs, and social media tightened.

Trend Forecaster and FIDM Industry Advisor Board member Tom Julian, tells us the real leaders in the marketplace today are marching to a new marketing buzzword and business model: disruption and the element of surprise.

Fashion and design brands are doing the unexpected and making headlines. Many are putting the power and control in the hands of the consumer, like Uber and Airbnb. Products that are authentic, storied, co-created, eco-friendly, and made and consumed locally are disrupting products from large industrial consumer goods companies.

Warby Parker is an eyewear retailer who literally cut the middleman out of the optical industry by designing in-house, trendy eyewear and selling directly to consumers, passing significant cost savings to the end user. Nasty Gal was founded in 2006 with sales today of approximately $100 million annually.  They did this without traditional marketing techniques, building their brand using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and managing to turn “likes” and “shares” into sales.

Anyone with career aspirations should pay attention to today’s marketplace and the innovations that are creating not only profits but new jobs and job titles and better connections with consumers.  Here are some of Tom Julian’s topline trends and companies this year:

  1.  Big Data:  The growth of available data is changing the marketplace. The most successful companies are tracking this data from social media, texts, emails, transactions, mobile connections, proximity messaging, and on-line reviews. Companies like TopShop use Pinterest to track the most coveted items on their website, then highlight those items in-store and on-line.
  2. Personalization: Many fashion companies are providing their customers with the opportunity to personalize the products they purchase. Nike, Vans, Converse and Adidas were early adopters, but look for brands from Levi’s to Louis Vuitton to offer similar services.
  3. Product Innovation:  The Apple iWatch is just one of the new directions for wearable technology. Tory Burch has partnered with FitBit to create bracelets and necklaces offer more appealing accessory design with technology features.
  4. Transparency: More and more companies are marketing their social consciousness right into their products.  TOMS shoes donates product to persons in need for every purchase of shoes, coffee, or eyewear.  More and more companies are embracing the trend of transparency.
  5. Collaboration: H& M and Target have been tremendously success with the capsule collections 

developed with leading designers, such as Missoni and Versace.  The trend has continued with collaborations between Banana Republic and Marimekko, the Limited and Kerry Washington’s Scandal collection, Aeropostale and Pretty Little Liars, and designer Mary Katrantzou with Adidas.

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Categories: Career Advice, College Career Advice, Job Advice, Marketing