TBWA Backslash Future of Retail Report: The roaring 20s usher in retail’s big reset

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TBWA Backslash Future of Retail Report: The roaring 20s usher in retail’s big reset

Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit of TBWAWorldwide, has today released its Future of Retail report, leveraging insight and expertise from its global network of culture spotters to unlock opportunities for disruptive growth in the retail sector. The second in its “Future Of” series, the report explores the most urgent questions facing retail businesses as they prepare for recovery.


Accelerated by the global pandemic, an e-commerce explosion is upon us with Nasdaq predicting that 95% of purchases will be made via e-commerce by 2040. But with 71% of consumers saying they still prefer to purchase from physical stores, a complete eradication of in-real-life retail may not be the answer. Nearly 40% of retailers are expanding or creating new in-store experiences, while 74% of consumers are expecting retail to adapt to their locality, seeing physical stores expanding their role.

Says Agathe Guerrier, chief strategy officer, TBWAWorldwide: “We believe a new chapter of retail is upon us. As we reckon with the impact of excess and thoughtless convenience, retailers have the opportunity to carve out a better way forward. It’s an exciting time.”

Says Renata Yannoulis, strategist, TBWASydney: “As we enter the next roaring ‘20s era, the retail industry is being forced swiftly into its next iteration. Sharp pivots are required for brands to meet the new consumer mindset, that continue to shift at a faster pace than ever before.

“This report was born from months of research, observation, ideation and collaboration amongst our global network of spotters and specialists, to provide a rounded and truly global perspective on the future state of the category. The four growth opportunities within this report confront the cultural tensions at play, and offer tactical solutions and provocations for brands to harness now, and into the future.”

The report leverages cultural intelligence to unlock four opportunities for disruptive growth in retail and outlines specific ways for brands to take action — by addressing the lifecycle of retail, adoption of new technology, or disrupting the traditional buyer-to-seller relationship.

The four opportunities are as follows:

1. Flex Retail: A new era of retail requires physical spaces that serve a purpose beyond shopping. The stores of the future will revitalize cities, uplift local communities, and promote circularity.

2. Retail’s Tech Tightrope: Next-gen retail technology will work behind the scenes to enable a seamless shopping experience. Companies can choose a more meaningful way forward through phantom tech, intelligent ordering, and sensory stores.

3. Networked Commerce: To survive increasingly communal commerce, brands will need to make everyone in their network an active player. Tomorrow’s retailers will strengthen relationships by engaging in direct dialogue, pivoting from influencers to educators.

4. Lifecycle Luxury: A richer kind of luxury will put product life cycles in center focus. Looking forward, upscale eco-materials, authenticity trackers, and functionality will define the new premium.

In addition to the four opportunities, content within Future of Retail confronts the cultural tensions at play and offers tactical solutions for a healthier era of consumption.

Says Keenan Motto, creative partner of Fabric: “The retail landscape both locally and globally has been an unpredictable and interesting space to navigate. This report and the ongoing work of the global collective have allowed us to pivot, shape and disrupt the way our brand partners go to market, by embedding the cultural insights and findings of Backslash into all that we do.

“It has been and will continue to be a differentiator to the Fabric offering of which we can create impactful experiences for ambitious brands, ensuring commercial growth and meaningful consumer connections.”

The Future of Retail report involved 300 Cultural Spotters across the TBWA collective. Spotters are TBWA strategists and business leads who bring expertise from their work on a range of retail companies — including some of the world’s largest fashion, technology and automotive brands.

The Future of Retail report can be downloaded at https://www.backslash.com/futureofretail.