How to thrive in the retail revolution

Whether you like it or not, when it comes to retail the consumer is in control, says trend expert Tom Mirabile.

In his keynote address ‘Top Trend 2019: new consumer insights and how to thrive in the retail revolution’ at the recent International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, Mirabile explains how homewares suppliers and retailers need to focus all their efforts on what the consumer wants, how the consumer sees themselves and how the industry can help create solutions for them.

“We need to stop looking at objects and start looking at what those objects deliver,” he says. “People aren’t buying objects, they’re buying experiences.”

Mirabile also shared some key beliefs that are important for homewares suppliers and retailers as they adjust to the quickly-changing marketplace where consumers hold all the control. These points, tied to the acronym FASTR are:

•              F―Be Flexible, Be Fun, Be Fearless

•              A―Be Addictive, Be Aware, Be Aspirational

•              S―Be Surprising, Be Shareable, Be Simple

•              T―Be True, Be Transparent, Be Trustworthy

•              R―Be Real World, Be Responsible, Be Reactive

Some key points on each include:

Be Flexible―change is constant, but even the most established brands can reinvent themselves.  Mirabile cited IKEA and KitchenAid as examples.

Be Fun―citing recent funny commercials from Skittles, Wayfair and Geico, “(brands) who can have fun and make fun of themselves send a message of self-confidence”, he adds.

Be Fearless―don’t be afraid to take a stand or do something different from the norm. It helps make your brand feel authentic and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Be Addictive―American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media, according to the 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report.  The challenge is in hooking them in.

Be Aware―there’s a tremendous amount of information out there, but “you’ve got to be self-educated, you’ve got to be a culture vulture”, says Mirabile, and keep up with what consumers want.

Be Aspirational―“Today’s consumer doesn’t dream of owning, but of becoming. Stop telling the customer who you are and start telling them you know who they are.”

Be Surprising―the subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years. The reason? They deliver boxes of surprising items a consumer may never have found on their own (or without a lot of time and effort). 

Be Shareable―these days, this doesn’t simply mean sharing an image, though that still does have value. It’s more about inspiring people to physically share something, such as the opportunity for a family to cook and eat a meal together. 

Be Simple―‘instead of big claims, sometimes it’s about the little obsessions,’―a finding by PHD Worldwide.

Be Trustworthy―consumer trust levels are at an all-time low, whether it comes to government institutions, businesses or media.

Be Transparent―this is important whether you’re talking about ingredients, labour usage, or product materials. Significant numbers of people across all generations will pay more money for eco-friendly materials, says Mirabile.

Be True―this often starts within your own company culture and then rises through the ranks of everything you do.

Be Real World―“To me, this is all about looking at real-world problems people are having, and how you’re going to solve them,” says Mirabile.

Be Responsible―a large part of this has to do with sustainability, a key issue for many generations of consumers these days.

Be Reactive―getting negative reviews? You must be quick to react, explain and make things right online. eMarketer data finds that roughly two-thirds of US internet users reference product reviews at least often before making a purchase.

For more information about the International Home + Housewares Show, visit