The range of products available to today's shopper is unimaginably wide in comparison with that with which our parents were familiar. Despite perennial complaints, even customer service is arguably better. The advent of onscreen help-chat, for example, represents a vast improvement over the phone helpline experience of just a decade ago.
Two phenomena in particular are transforming retail. The first is what we might call "responsive personalization." This is the product of methodologies and technologies that make it possible to customize the retail experience to the level of the individual. This approach has catalyzed startling progress in such areas as customer recognition, data analysis, personalized digital communication, promotions, the detection of shoppers' moods, wearables that help staffers better serve customers, and more.
The second of these phenomena is, collectively, the new retail models that have materialized as a result of these technologies and methods. These days, retailers can slice target groups and market to them with precision. Gender identity, itself increasingly understood as fluid, may represent the next marketing frontier.
The increasing purchasing and cultural power of women is also having an effect on retail models. If the stereotypically gendered marketing of eras past isn't quite gone, it's at least being supplemented by marketing and retail initiatives that embrace women in all of their individuality. Plus-size and aging shoppers are also getting more of the attention that they've long deserved.
This report offers a survey of the new paradigm governing the relationship between merchant on the one hand and shopper on the other.