Directions

SELLING IN THE INFORMATION AGE

To prosper in the 21st century, retailers will need to know how to manage change and information technology, says a new report by Management Horizons, a business consulting and research company. An article on the report in Women’s Wear Daily outlined the following points:

  • In the next five years, retailing will become an information-driven business, and retailers’ major assets will be customer information rather than real estate or inventory.

  • Retailers will focus on their core customers, identifying and rewarding high-spending clients and eliminating those who are too costly to serve. While this flies in the face of traditional retail wisdom, it will become a competitive necessity.

  • Mass-merchandised apparel specialty chains, which have hundreds of outlets nationwide delivering the same assortment of goods, will give way to the reincarnation of true specialty stores. These specialty retailers will move into neighborhood locations and micro-merchandise to suit their customers.

  • Traditional regional malls will suffer as specialty stores and department stores consolidate and/or go bankrupt. Anchor locations may be filled by nontraditional category-killers such as Toys R Us and Home Depot.

  • Electronic retailing will show accelerated growth and acceptance. The Internet will expand from a marketing tool to a viable commercial transaction system. Electronic retailing will take a growing share of general merchandise, apparel and furniture retailing, with much of the gain coming at the expense of traditional catalog retailing.

  • The momentum toward global retailing will continue, especially in the wake of trade pacts such as NAFTA and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. As free trade expands and eliminates tariffs, expect to see more retailers moving overseas and an expansion in price-competitive global sourcing.

  • Public safety and police protection will become a private sector responsibility, with limited access to neighborhoods and malls becoming more commonplace. Look for experimentation with the “membership mall” concept.

  • American society will continue to splinter into smaller groups that are more diverse in education, wealth, ethnicity, tastes, shopping behavior and such. The fastest-growing division will be between the educated and non-educated.

  • The number of teenagers will increase by 2.5 million over the next five years, three times the pace of general population growth. Some significant implications of this are a renewed interest in fashion, an increase in crime and violence, controlled-access malls, a large pool of entry-level workers and accelerated use of technology.

  • The number of Americans age 45 to 54 will increase by more than 7 million over the next five years. This group will have less time and energy, and will emphasize saving for retirement. Spending patterns will shift away from apparel and general shopping to children’s education, travel and leisure.

  • The young elderly, age 55 to 64, will increase by 3.5 million in the next five years. This means a societal redefinition of aging and beauty, a decline in the cult of youth, a rise in the value of vacation homes, a boom in travel, extended work life and expanded health care.

  • Branding will become more important, as manufacturers’ brand names and stores’ private labels promise quality, credible value and image to consumers. In a world overrun with choices, consumers will rely upon brands to reduce search time.

VICTORIANA MAKING A COMEBACK

Not all vanities have been consumed by the bonfire. The vanity table, which was immortalized in fashion illustrations and period films, is back in vogue. Keeping in step with the trend toward luxury, it’s no longer enough to powder one’s nose in the bathroom mirror. Instead, the dressing table becomes a place to take a few minutes for personal pampering and to gather composure.

To complete the picture, add a collection of silver, crystal and porcelain accessories, plus favorite nostalgic objects and photographs, says the Silver Information Center.

“Interest and sales of both antique and new vanity table silver are strong. Whether elaborately ornate or classically simple, vanity silver is decorative and practical for everyday use and, best of all, makes you feel good,” says SIC Director Linda Meehan.

The center suggests the following silver items as good gifts or impulse purchases: assorted frames of various sizes; small trays to place keys or coins; slender vases and beakers or baby cups to hold scented flowers; a comb and brush set; makeup brushes; a compact or hand mirror; a small bowl for potpourri; miniature boxes for jewelry or makeup; a perfume flacon or aromatic pendant; a razor, shoe horn, nail file and scissors; and in the newest trend, barrettes or hair clips.

SHOPPING TIME SHRINKS

America’s shoppers are concerned with saving time as well as money.

According to the 1995 Kurt Salmon Associates “Consumer Pulse Survey,” consumers are confronting what the study calls “time poverty.” More than two-thirds of those surveyed reported having less leisure time than in previous years.

More than half of the consumers (53%) surveyed said they shop less often in order to save time. Most men (75%) said they sometimes leave a store if the wait is too long; more than half the women do the same. More than 70% of consumers pick stores in which to shop on the basis of how quickly they can check out.

Pricing continues to be a major consumer concern, with 70% saying price is the top reason they don’t make a purchase when shopping.

In fact, the majority of consumers (70%) said they buy almost all of their merchandise on sale. When they do purchase at full price, customers are wary — 90% said they wonder if they’re paying too much when making a full-price purchase.

These time and price concerns come together when consumers choose where to shop. Discounters, warehouse clubs and shopping by mail all gained market share over previous studies. Forty percent of the respondents said they shop less often at traditional retailers such as apparel chain stores, specialty and department stores.

Twenty-one percent of consumers surveyed reported shopping more at home than they did before, using such services as television shopping channels, catalogs and the World Wide Web.

BOX OFFICE HITS SELL NEW STYLES

Actor Will Smith slipped a 1-ct. diamond wedding ring depicting a leaping dolphin on the finger of costar Vivica Fox in this summer’s box office sensation Independence Day. Rene Russo perfected her golf swing in Tin Cup and searched for her kidnapped child in Ransom wearing a distinct strand of cultured pearls.

Viewers, and the entertainment press, took notice.

Movie-inspired jewelry styles are hot, hot, hot, reported Entertainment Weekly in its Aug. 9 and Sept. 6 issues. Although the original dolphin ring by Stephan-Hill Jewelry Designers of San Rafael, Cal., can’t be copied, a rash of dolphin jewelry is showing up in jewelry stores everywhere and was seen at 40 to 50 booths at the JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas in June, reports EW.

The magazine also says customers have been checking out Saks Fifth Avenue and Fragments in NewYorkCity for Russo’s necklace, which is a strand of akoya pearls spaced about a half-inch apart, designed by Wendy Brigode.

Fragments advertises the necklace, which retails at $495, with a poster of Tin Cup in its front window.

The observant jewelry news appeared on EW’s “Style” page, which follows notable on-screen fashion trends.

The jewelry industry continues to be influenced by the styles of television and film. The most obvious example is the infiltration of the “Y” necklace, which spread across showcases in almost every jewelry venue and was fueled by such twentysomething hit shows as “Friends” and “Melrose Place.”