These 3 Things will Change the Way Your Store Approaches Tomorrow’s Customer

Retail Consumer Trends: Can Your Store Deliver the 3 Things Tomorrow’s Customers Want?

In order for your retail store to survive and thrive, you not only have to satisfy customers today, but constantly look ahead to tomorrow. According to A.T. Kearney’s Global Future Consumer study, which forecasts 10 years into the future, there are three critical things shoppers want from retailers. Can your store deliver them? Here’s what you need to know.

In 2027, six different generations will make up the consumer market—a historical first, A.T. Kearney says. They are the Silent Generation (1928-1945), baby boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), millennials (1981-1997) and Generation Z (1998-2016). In particular, Generation Z will have a huge influence, leading the transformation of what shoppers care about.

Goodbye, status, ownership and brand loyalty. Hello, trust, personalization and influence.

Retail Consumer Trends

Already, we’re seeing a shift among all generations of consumers from status-oriented purchases and ownership of possessions to a focus on experiences. Here’s a closer look at what the three core values mean and how you can incorporate them in your retail brand.


Consumers no longer trust big corporations (if they ever did). Younger generations, in particular, are skeptical about advertising claims and want to be sure your business aligns with their values before they’ll shop at your store. Transparency and authenticity are key.

What it means for you:

Distrust of big corporations spells opportunity for small retailers. In order to maximize your opportunity, be sure your business “walks the walk.” If you support certain causes, make sure they are ones that make sense for your store (such as adult literacy for a bookstore). Remember, not only your advertising and marketing, but also your social media presence, community activities and the way you and your employees behave represents your brand values. Finally, make sure the products you carry reflect your store’s core values. This may mean digging deeper into how products are manufactured, where they are sourced or the supply chain that delivers them to you.


In the future, the study says, consumers will be more willing to share their personal information with retailers—as long as they get personalized treatment in return.

What it means for you:

If you haven’t already done so, implementing a store loyalty program enabling the collection of personal information about members can help you tailor your marketing outreach and promotional offers to what specific shoppers want. Give customers the option to control the communications they receive from you, such as being able to opt out of emails or change the frequency of emails or text messages. Personalization isn’t just about technology, either: Capitalize on your small store size to provide friendly, personal service.


Time-tested brands no longer have the automatic cachet they once had. This is why old-school brands are modernizing to stay relevant. For example, luxury accessories retailer Coach tapped Selena Gomez as the face of its fall ad campaign, while cosmetics stalwart Clinique is using influential bloggers to target young customers.

What it means for you:

Don’t rest on your laurels, even if your store currently has a thriving customer base. Take a look at your core customers — in 10 years, will they be aged out of your store? If so, you need to start cultivating the next younger generation, and for that you need influencers.

Of course, I don’t expect you to hire a Selena Gomez-level influencer — but you can reach out to influencers in the communities your shoppers care about. For example, any women’s apparel or accessories retailer should be on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Having a thriving social media presence will help bring your brand to the attention of influencers’ followers, and hopefully even the influencers themselves. Think about local influencers in your community and see if they can help promote your store.

For all three of these factors, authenticity is paramount. Your personalization can’t sound like it came from a robot, and your influencer campaign can’t sound fake. Fortunately, for small retailers, being real is one of the best things you have going for you — so take advantage of it, and you’ll be well-positioned for the next 10 years.

Open Sign Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.