By Cynthia Maxwell, Trend Forecasting

On a recent trend trip to Los Angeles “romancing the consumer” and “creating a retail experience” was put into full use at the urban clothing and accessory store Supreme.

While walking down Fairfax, I noticed A LOT of people camped out on the sidewalk and learned they were going spend two nights waiting for the release of limited edition Supreme item. Two nights!!! Also, the store was supposed to open to us regular shoppers at nine, but did not open until 11- to a long line of shoppers just waiting to get in. Because of capacity laws, that line remained consistent the entire two hours I was in the area.

I have also participated in H&M’s designer collaboration each year. They create hype months in advance with announcements, stories and gorgeous videos. Then sell to limited stores and online. This year the Erdem collection sold out within 25 minutes online.

Who says retail is dead?

I have written about key color, food, fashion and consumer trends this year and besides “romancing the consumer”- I have been pondering the trends that will carry over into 2018.

CLICK HERE to read Trend Perspectives: Romancing the Consumer

Starting with Pantone’s 2017 color of the year Greenery. Fashion and home furnishing bloggers, trend forecasters, and editors are still considering this color as we head into 2018, and I agree. We have just touched the surface of all the “green” movements out there. From green walls, sofas, to living a “greener” life, green is gorgeous, green is new, green is calming, green is right.

Generation focused retailing is obviously going to remain strong. However retailers should definitely make everyone feel excited about their shopping experience. As I said earlier this year -“All generations are very important as our younger generations have more knowledge and our older generations are staying young. It is important not to pigeonhole focus on one generation.” In fact our Gen Z’s are starting to get a lot more attention from social media giants and retailers!

VR and AR? Seems VR did not have the best year with headset pricing reduced and under performing sales. The headsets are clunky and leave some users nauseous. While the technology is exciting, this VR cycle is over and we will anticipate the next wave. On the other hand AR has been well received and is predicted to have a big year in 2018.

"More than a third of Snapchat's 173 million daily active users interact with its AR camera filters, dubbed lenses, every day, according to the company. Also Apple recently used Snapchat's selfie effects to show off the AR capabilities of its new iPhone X."– Alex Heath, Tech Insider

Some tech voices believe that AR is a more social technology whereas VR alienates the consumer from, well…life!

CLICK HERE to read my last article: Bold & Beautiful Colors in Packaging

Honestly connecting with the consumer is going to become a major focus next year. Companies with integrity, transparency, and an understanding of their consumer are highly sought after. "Consumers align their patronage and trust with companies who’s actions, beliefs and morals match up to their own." -Mintel, North America Trends 2018

Supremes plan that day in LA was inspiring. Opening later than advertised, creating hype around a limited edition item, making their customer feel like they were getting a unique experience and finally, a quality product.

Final words as we head into 2018: True that giants like Amazon are winning at consumerism, but I believe the customer will start to crave more than a bunch of boxes and groceries at their doorstep. With shopping becoming more convenient the consumer will have the time on their hands to search out a new experience, a Supreme or H&M experience. Companies willing to take BIG leaps outside the box, and become closely acquainted with their consumer will win.

Happy New Year!

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