US retailers are catering for a new trend in consumer behaviour – me-centricity – by providing bespoke shopping experiences.
Meet PAM – the Post-Apocalyptic Man. He’s emerged from the flames of the global financial crisis with a whole new set of shopper demands.
Picture him bearded (think Shoreditch trendies) – he’s young, he’s hip and he’s demanding. So what does he want?
He wants products with more meaning. He wants 'the’ product, not a product. “He believes he’s the centre of the universe,” explains retail futurist Howard Saunders, who introduced me to PAM during the Oracle Retail Exchange at NRF’s Big Show.
It’s the forward-thinking retailers, Saunders says, who are putting PAM, the modern man (or woman), first. So how are New York’s most innovative stores doing that?
Saunders points to the rise of bespoke retailing, such as Bite Beauty Lip Lab in SoHo which designs custom-made lipsticks; or Nixon watches, also in SoHo, which builds bespoke watches for men and women. Or take Normal in Chelsea, which makes custom-fit 3D-Printed earphones.
According to Saunders, these retailers, and many others like them, are catering for a new trend in consumer behaviour – me-centricity. It’s all about me, me, me.
Call for community
Hand in hand with shoppers’ demonstration of me-centricity is an emerging demand for community. “It’s taken the financial crash to teach us retail is about hanging out and meeting like-minded people. It’s about community,” he explains.
A short walk down Fifth Avenue shows New York’s retailers are providing this sense of community in spades.
Take Lululemon’s new flagship store. Its downstairs 5,000 sq ft Hub Seventeen is not just for fitness classes, but also monthly dinners, concerts, art shows, film screenings and more. There’s also a coffee bar, phone-charging station, and a community mirror board to help shoppers discover new places to run, exercise and eat. Similarly, Nike Running Store has a giant digital screen featuring customers’ pictures of their runs and their routes, and even enables shoppers to compete against each other.
Likewise, high-end casual clothing retailer Club Monaco fosters a sense of community through its coffee shop at the store entrance, in-store book shop with comfy armchairs, and other inviting extras such as a florist in the middle of the shopfloor.
If you’re currently in New York, check them out. This is the new normal in community based, ultra-personalised shopping.