NPD’s Cohen On Retail Environment, Consumer Patterns

Posted by Marty Brochstein on November 14, 2013

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NPD Group’ Chief Strategist Marshal Cohen gave a thought-provoking talk over breakfast to a LIMA-hosted group of about 50 licensing executives last week in New York, giving insights and opinions about a host of consumer, marketing and retail trends. A few topline points from among many subjects that he broached:

• While there’s been lots of attention paid to the millennial generation as a marketing target, Cohen cautions that it’s not the no-brainer that many assume. While Millennials (18-34 year-olds) may have generally high incomes, they also are saddled with huge debt, and are unable to save. So their disposable income isn’t necessarily so grand. Boomers – with high incomes and less to spend it on – are a target worth paying more attention to.

• Don’t expect the trend toward brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving to recede. After all, Cohen points, out, a large chunk of Americans don’t have the idyllic holiday meal with friends and family, and many of those who do are done by 8pm. More to the point, online retailers have been doing truckloads of business on Thanksgiving itself, and the brick and mortar crowd want some of that for themselves. (Separately, Accenture just released a report, as report that says – as reported in Marketing Daily — that “55% of 18- to-24-year-olds and 61% of 25- to-34-year-olds [say] they are likely to shop on Thanksgiving Day, compared with 31% of 45- to-59-year-olds. And 80% of 18- to-24-year-olds and 70% of those ages 25 to 34 intend to shop on Black Friday. In contrast, only 51% of the 45-to-59 set will brave the crowds.”

• Brand owners need to be as proactive as possible in making sure the retailer is correctly communicating the brand message on both an emotional and functional level.

• While discussion of “omnimedia” has been done to death in many corners, Cohen stressed that it’s vital that the messaging be consistent and coherent among the multiple platforms on which a consumer may be researching a brand.

• Retailers are looking to pare their brand assortments, but to go deeper with the merchandise they do carry, i.e. the same sweater or bag in a wide range of colors, rather than multiple different styles. Also, when they do find something successful, they’ll stick with it for longer than before. Trends, he said, are coming and lingering, not coming and going.