TBWA’s Future of Retail report highlights opportunities for disruptive growth in retail sector

Backslash, the cultural intelligence unit of TBWA\Worldwide, released its Future of Retail report today. The report leverages insights and expertise from TBWA’s global network of culture spotters, to unlock opportunities for disruptive growth in the retail sector. The second in its “Future Of” series, the report also explores the most urgent questions facing retail businesses as they prepare for recovery.

Accelerated by the global pandemic, the report highlights that an e-commerce explosion is upon us with Nasdaq predicting that 95% of purchases will be made via e-commerce by 2040. 

But according to TBWA, “with 71% of consumers saying they still prefer to purchase from physical stores (source: Kearney), a complete eradication of in-real-life retail may not be the answer.” 

“We believe a new chapter of retail is upon us (and) as we reckon with the impact of excess and thoughtless convenience, retailers have the opportunity to carve out a better way forward. It’s an exciting time,” said Chief Strategy Officer of TBWA\Worldwide, Agathe Guerrier.

The report leverages cultural intelligence to unlock four opportunities for disruptive growth in retail and outlines specific ways for brands to take action — by addressing the lifecycle of retail, adoption of new technology, or disrupting the traditional buyer-to-seller relationship.   

The four opportunities are as follows.

  1. Flex Retail: A new era of retail requires physical spaces that serve a purpose beyond shopping. The stores of the future will revitalize cities, uplift local communities, and promote circularity. 
  1. Retail’s Tech Tightrope: Next-gen retail technology will work behind the scenes to enable a seamless shopping experience. Companies can choose a more meaningful way forward through phantom tech, intelligent ordering, and sensory stores. 
  1. Networked Commerce: To survive increasingly communal commerce, brands will need to make everyone in their network an active player. Tomorrow’s retailers will strengthen relationships by engaging in direct dialogue, pivoting from influencers to educators.
  1. Lifecycle Luxury: A richer kind of luxury will put product life cycles in center focus. Looking forward, upscale eco-materials, authenticity trackers, and functionality will define the new premium. 

In addition to the four opportunities, content within Future of Retail confronts the cultural tensions at play and offers tactical solutions for a healthier era of consumption.

According to Brand Director of TBWA\ Malaysia, Iman Omar, after enduring extensive lockdowns over the last 18 months, consumer behaviour is now driving a new path forward for the retail sector and the buyer- seller relationship has been challenged as brands quickly undergo digital transformation.

“Our client Abbott Paediatric Milk, which was traditionally considered an in-store milk brand, quickly pivoted its shopper experience to online, creating direct dialogues reassuring mother’s their quality product was assessable throughout lockdown,” Iman added. “These experiences help build loyal communities and provide more opportunities for brands to personalise their retail experiences forging a stronger human connection with their brand”

The Future of Retail was born from months of in-depth qualitative and quantitative research, strategic ideation, and collaboration among 300 Cultural Spotters across the TBWA collective. Spotters are TBWA strategists and business leads who bring expertise from their work on a range of retail companies — including some of the world’s largest fashion, technology and automotive brands.


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