3 Key Trends for Brands and Retailers To Watch Out for in 2024

Consumer trends are constantly changing, and it’s important to change with them if you hope to reach new customers and earn repeat business. To help you stay in the know, we’re sharing three trends that will be essential to your brand’s success in 2024.

Here are three key trends for brands and retailers to watch out for in the new year.

1. Growing Demand for Sustainability

Sustainability has been a growing trend for years, and that won’t change in 2024.

In particular, transparency regarding sustainable business practices (including supply chains) will be in sharp focus for retailers in 2024. As consumers become increasingly conscious of how and where the products they buy are sourced and manufactured, providing a certain level of transparency can build trust with your customers and differentiate you from the competition.

When it comes to sustainability, Gen Z consumers in particular have a strong influence on their parents and grandparents. They tend to gravitate toward brands that align with their beliefs and will remain loyal to those brands. But on the other hand, Gen Z consumers will quickly boycott businesses that don’t align with the issues that are important to them.

To earn Gen Z’s business, you’ll need to be very transparent about your sustainable business practices as well as the sustainable products you offer.

Another aspect of sustainability that is gaining ground in the retail world is the concept of “recommerce” — a.k.a., buying used, reusing, reselling, or thrifting. While buying secondhand products isn’t a new concept, it’s no longer limited to thrift stores: major retailers are now embracing the trend. For example, Lululemon created “Lululemon Like New,” a program that gives customers an avenue to buy and sell gently used gear. Initiatives like this can take place through an online storefront, an in-store “resale” rack, or other channel, depending on what best suits your brand.

Sustainability action points for 2024:

  • Include some sustainably made, sustainably sourced, and/or fair trade items in your product offerings

  • Be transparent with your customers regarding your sustainable business practices

  • Work to minimize waste, make the most of your resources, and reduce the environmental impact of your products and services

  • Consider providing an opportunity for consumers to buy and sell gently used gear where appropriate

  • Make sustainable retail design a priority

  • Make your sustainable products and practices a focus of your marketing

2. Hyper-Personalized Customer Journeys Fueled by AI

Personalization of the customer journey will also continue to be a major focus for retailers this year. As the ecommerce landscape evolves and more advanced technologies come into play, it’s paving the way for new ways to personalize the customer experience.

Hyper-personalization is today’s version of relationship marketing or database marketing, allowing you to tap into consumers’ most basic needs through the gathering and processing of vast amounts of customer data. Artificial Intelligence is already being used to accomplish this — for example, through website cookies that gather information on customers’ recent purchases, internet searches, brand preference, coupon use, and more.

AI-powered customer engagement tools enable you to provide personalized assistance at every step of the customer journey, including personalized product recommendations, real-time insights into promotions, order tracking, and seamless returns. This insight into customer preferences and behavior can help inform future product development and empower you to elevate your customer service experience.

Personalized customer interactions will be particularly important in reaching new generations of consumers. Today’s shoppers are looking for engaging, personalized experiences (both in-store and online) that target their needs and preferences and make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for.

What’s more, personalizing the customer journey not only enhances a consumer’s experience with your brand, but it also drives higher conversion rates and stronger customer loyalty. As such, personalization is becoming less of a luxury and more of a must-have for brands.

Personalization action points for 2024:

  • Consider starting a database-supported customer loyalty program that records and tracks individual customers’ purchases

  • Using your database, identify what types of products individual customers are purchasing. Use that information to offer them private sales, notify them about related upcoming events, and so on.

  • Train store employees to recognize and greet returning customers by name and ask how they enjoyed a recent purchase. This level of personal service gives consumers the feeling of having their needs met at a deeper level, and inspires them to keep coming back.

3. A Seamless Omnichannel Experience

The importance of a seamless omnichannel customer experience cannot be overstated in the current market. The fusion of physical and digital elements of the shopping experience is speeding up, and embracing the use of digital media in physical spaces will be crucial to driving engagement and loyalty.

Consumer demand for seamless experiences across digital, social, and physical channels will only continue to rise. Today’s shopper will often discover a brand or product on social media and explore the brand’s online store before deciding to visit the physical store to buy. Consumers are also increasingly using mobile apps while shopping in-store to search for items or coupons, read product reviews, and compare pricing.

An omnichannel shopping experience will be nonnegotiable for drawing in younger consumers. As the first generation to be digital natives, Gen Z is highly influenced by social media, often deciding on a purchase from that channel alone. The blending of social media and e-commerce is well on its way to new heights — especially on platforms like TikTok. Social media shopping offers an interactive, entertaining shopping experience that younger customers love.

This doesn’t mean the in-store experience is dead, however. To the contrary, the in-store portion of the customer journey remains a vital part of a successful omnichannel experience. (Learn why in our recent blog.)

The reality is, if you’re not yet providing your customers with a shopping experience that seamlessly connects online and offline elements, 2024 is the year to put that in place.

Omnichannel action points for 2024:

  • Ensure your tech is set up to support hybrid shopping, delivery, and curbside pickup

  • Build engaging app or online experiences that turn the physical store into a curated experience for the consumer, such as product promotions tailored to each customer’s needs and wants.

  • Make sure customer preferences and shopping history are seamlessly transferred between all available channels.

  • Include a “find in store” option online to quickly and easily show customers where they can find the product they’re searching for in the physical store.

  • Ensure customers can find the information they need to make a buying decision regardless of whether they’re interacting with your company online, in an app, or in-store.

We hope these key trends for brands and retailers are helpful as you plan for the new year. If you’re looking for more market insights and expertise to inform your 2024 strategy, Miller Wittman is here to help. Contact us today to learn how we can partner with you to reach your goals this year.