Look out: Generation C is about

online, e-commerce, christmas, spendingWe’re all wondering what’s around the corner and how on earth we can keep up.

On average retailers should do a new fit out every five years and, if located in a mall, retailers are made to spruce up every couple of years.

Given the rate of change in consumer behaviour, we could be in a bit of conundrum.

Consumers expect more, so retailers are spending more money on fit outs to raise profile, brand love and to stand out from the crowd. However, what should happen if the lifecycle of a retail store is reduced considerably because of the rate of technological advancements and demand for a remarkable experience.

Firstly, to try and decipher any of this, the first step is to work out who is really behind all this purchasing power. My take on this is that Generation C is the driver of change and I liken it to a guerilla marketing campaign. It’s sneaking up on us and all of a sudden we’re in it, and we need it and want it now.

So, who is this incredibly influential social set laying down the yellow brick road? Gen C is highly connected and lives “online”, like it or not. They’ll have 100s if not 1000s of contacts whom they “know” from all over the world and they’re generators of content which, a few years back, was private.

Generation C is well connected, communicative, content driven, and all about the computer and community.

As a rule Gen C was born after 1990 and was born to click and by 2020 it will make up 40 per cent of the population in the US, Europe and BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Need I say in 2020 our whipper snapper guerillas will be so wedded to their primary digital device (PDD) that they will literally be connected 24 hours a day and will expect the same level of connection back.

The PDD will do much of the shopping. However, Gen C expects to be connected when in a retail store’s network, guiding it with product choices, offering peer reviews and automatically paying for the purchases once selected. And this is only five years away, if not already happening.

I went to an amazing talk at AUT a few weeks back to listen to an incredible man by the name of Salim Ismail from Silicon Valley. His vocation is to think about the future and in particular those organisations growing exponentially. He was there to impart some of his insights and boy they were a little scary.

He says the number of connected devices will be as follows: in 2005, 50 million; in 2015, 12 billion; in 2020, 50 billion; and in 2100, one trillion. The number of people online will be as follows: in 2010, 1.2 billion; in 2015, 2.8 billion; and in 2020, more than five billion. The cost per car for sensors on Google’s driverless car will be US$300,000 in 2009, $75,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2015.

And, what really got me was Ismail’s prediction that today’s four year olds will never get their driver’s license.

Also, he said solar is doubling its price performance (cost against output) every 22-30 months and he predicted that solar could deliver 100 per cent of the world’s energy needs by 2038.

Can you see what I’m getting at? We as businesses in NZ need to think laterally and exponentially. We need to move from a world of scarcity to abundance. Basically, you need to see the wood for the trees. Linear thinking will have your survival rate at a fast demise. As retail designers (we also apply this thinking to our hospitality, hotel and office design) we must think about what will give longevity, what will stand out and be relevant, even with considerable change.

Here are some snippets of advice: design for the future; everything in a space should add value and steer clear of fads; design with flexibility; test first before rolling out; and learn about your customer intimately, without being weird.

And, if the retail lifecycle is decreasing, then I’m pretty sure pop up’s the perfect solution to this conundrum and is the very reason why I started Pop Up Now to bridge this gap. That’s a whole different story though.

Lizzi Hines

MD of Spaceworks Design Group

Contact : 0800 2 FITOUT

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