7 Retail Trends for the Modern Consumer

Posted: 4/17/2018

Today, several trends are dominating the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and retail industries.  New technology coupled with a more personalized customer experience are set to shake up the future of retail.

We’re going to take a deep dive into the top 7 retail trends that are impacting the CPG industry in 2018.

1) Artificial Intelligence

Retailers are beginning to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their marketing strategies to keep customers engaged and improve upon the online shopping experience.  This technology translates massive volumes of retail data into rich, actionable insights, helping retail professionals make smart decisions faster.  AI simplifies arduous retail processes and delivers fact-based intelligence, helping retail companies save time and money, and serve shoppers better.

North Face is one of many retailers currently using cognitive computing technology to guide customers on which product to purchase.  Using a questionnaire, they are able to gain insights on what type of jacket their customers are looking for.  North Face then analyzes the data to look at the probability products are purchased and adjusts its recommendations to increase sales.

Other companies utilize AI to provide information on how to manage their inventory.  Walmart uses it’s massive size and AI to gain valuable customer data that helps them spot anomalies and make better inventory decisions.  This has, in turn, improved supply chain management, allowing Walmart to increase the amount of products they sell online. In 2011, Walmart.com had around 700,000 items for sale on their website, but today that number has grown to more than 60 million. Impressive growth!

2) Voice-Shopping

Google, Apple, Samsung, and Amazon have all come out with smart speakers which act like digital assistants.  While these digital assistants can do everything from play music to request an Uber, one of their main features is voice-ordering.

The voice shopping feature has provided a huge influx in business for retailers and shows no signs of slowing down.  Industry experts predict 1.8 billion people will use digital assistants by 2021, and voice searches will account for half of all Internet searches within three years.

Digital Assistants make online ordering even easier by allowing consumers to purchase products using their voice.  I personally use a digital assistant to purchase almost all of my household items and even have reminders set to alert me when I should reorder products that may be running low.

3) E-Grocery 

In 2013, online sales accounted for less than 1 percent of total sales in packaged food and around 3 percent in nonfood areas. In 2018, the numbers representing growth are quite staggering with McKinsey believing that the online space will account for anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of total industry sales growth in the next five years.

Companies like Amazon are looking to revolutionize the CPG industry through new programs and services that help customers get their goods quicker and easier.  Amazon is at the forefront of this by testing features like Amazon Pantry and Prime Now, which allows customers to choose from thousands of products that can be shipped to their door within one to two hours!

4) Marketing Made Personal

Customers now expect a brand experience that matches their particular tastes and preferences.  In fact, brands that offer personalized experiences enjoy a 50% higher loyalty rate.  Retailers are beginning to better understand the importance of personalization and the impact it has on consumer’s buying decisions.  They have found that consumers are becoming more emotionally invested in the products and brands they purchase.

Two companies that have made customization and personalization their primary marketing strategies are Indochino and Shoes of Prey.  Indochino sells customized suits where consumers can pick from a variety of fabrics and styles for a lower price than a traditional custom suit.  The suit is then shipped to the customers door within a few weeks, creating a unique online shopping experience.

Shoes of Prey also offer customization and gives consumers the opportunity to design their own shoes online.  Customers can choose from a variety of materials, heels, toe shapes, and designs to create a completely unique shoe.  Both companies focus on selling an experience as well as a product and expect to see more retailers follow their lead in 2018.

5) In-Store Makeovers

We are beginning to see the landscape of physical store locations changing to make shopping a true experience.  Amazon is currently piloting their Amazon Go Stores, which streamline the shopping experience by automating the checkout and payment process.  Using cameras and sensors, Amazon can track each item a customer picks up, and charges them as they leave the store  Customers pay using their amazon app as they walk out of the store, eliminating long lines and the need for cashiers. Companies who are currently using mobile point-of-sale (POS) systems, are already seeing sales boosts by nearly 150%.

Many regional grocers are also beginning to implement their own online programs, offering the ability to select and purchase products online that can be picked up in the customer’s local store.  These new features make in-store shopping more efficient as customers can have their groceries or products ready for pick up.

6) Mobile Shopping

Considering the convenience of a cell phone compared to a computer, it’s no surprise mobile shopping is increasing dramatically.  Since the emergence of mobile phones, retailers have noticed, year after year, that consumers are using their mobile devices more often to purchase products.  Presently, mobile devices account for 19% of all US retail e-commerce sales. This figure is estimated to reach 27% by the end of 2018, which represents 1 out of every 4 US retail e-commerce dollars.

Today, almost every major retailer has a mobile app that improves the online shopping experience.  Brands like Sephora, Frank & Oak, and Starbucks have successfully embraced mobile commerce with their own mobile applications—and it’s paying off. In the fourth quarter of 2017, 11% of Starbucks transactions in the U.S. were completed with their Mobile Order and Pay solution.


7) Transparency 

Consumers hate being confused or mislead about products or manufacturing processes.  Since the beginning of the Information Age, customers now have the ability to research companies and products.  What we are seeing is that consumers typically remain loyal to brands that provide them with transparency.

Today, the “why” and “how” behind the products have become as important as the product itself, oftentimes becoming the primary decision-making criteria that drives a purchase.  With more consumers concerned about the “big picture” such as, carbon footprint or the treatment of animals,  retailers are feeling pressure to be more transparent with their customer base.


These are the 7 retail trends we expect to dominate in 2018 and beyond.  We had the opportunity to speak with Cassie Freeman, Advantage Solutions – Industry Insights Team, who shared with us her thoughts on what retail trends she expects to see.

“Over the last few years, online ordering and quick delivery has made purchasing products easier and more convenient. For many customers, the power of E-Commerce has made the need to visit brick and mortar locations obsolete.”

We also asked her thoughts on the future of CPG, and where she sees this space in the next 5-10 years.

“I think over the next few years the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry’s online presence will continue to grow, and we will see major retailers closing physical locations and transition to a predominantly online business model. The added savings of only operating distribution centers, combined with the convenience for customers, should move retailers towards an E-Commerce platform.”


By Matthew Armstrong, Advantage Solutions


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