12.–16.01.2025 #immcologne

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Megatrends for the next years

The interior design industry and the future of retail

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The fundamental principles of our economy are shifting. Numerous crises – political, economic and, above all, environmental – are posing new challenges, including for the interior design industry. Read on to discover more about the global upheavals and megatrends that will determine the next few years and what the future of retail might look like.

Paying with the cell phone

The future of retail is increasingly shifting towards the digital and will move forward hand in hand with global megatrends. (Photo: Jonas Leupe on Unsplash)

Global economic megatrends

The past few years have significantly altered our self-image as a society. As well as the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, climate change is increasingly affecting our thinking and actions. Trend researchers at the Zukunftsinstitut believe that the following three trends have the biggest potential to affect our lifestyle across all industries:

  • Connectivity: Digitalisation was just the start. Thanks to modern communication technology it will evolve into an all-encompassing interconnectedness. The Internet of Things will radically change our everyday life and the way we do business.
  • Security: In response to the global crises and their impacts there is a demand to meet the need for individual security. This ranges from establishing our own personal space for retreat to questions about health and moral and ethical values that influence our day-to-day decisions.
  • Neo-ecology: Business and retail must make an increased effort to deal with a new understanding of values among customers. Fair working conditions and corporate responsibility are coming under the spotlight and could perhaps be the most significant megatrend of our current and future economy.

New retail trends from rural to digital

What does this mean in practice? Which strategies look promising for the retail industry, if these and similar retail trends are shaping customers’ day-to-day lives? From sustainability, new work models and gender shift to topics surrounding health and safety, there are numerous new developments and subject areas that need to be taken into consideration. At the same time, there are two key trends that stand out: the potential offered by digitalisation and the return to rural locations.

The metaverse is probably the most illustrative example of a concept that brings together retail and digital entertainment. It has already been dubbed Internet 3.0 and there is no doubt it has the potential to combine customer loyalty, marketing and entertainment on a new level.

As a counterpart to the shiny new digital world, for some years now “rural retail” has been putting down roots. Purchasing power in rural locations is on the up, a trend that looks set to continue in future. Companies that find the right marketing strategy and set up individual points of contact can establish a long-term presence here, away from the constantly available eCommerce channels.

Innovation for greater sustainability

It won’t be long before sustainability is no longer optional, but obligatory. The future of retail will depend on how producers and retailers are able to manage this paradigm shift innovatively. Popular approaches include concepts such as the circular economy , which aims to avoid adding any new materials into production processes. The C2M model is another approach that is evolving very successfully at the moment. This concept allows customers to configure their ideal products using online platforms. The manufacturers produce on demand, i.e. only once an order has been made, thereby avoiding costly overproduction and allowing for a more sustainable supply chain .

To control the overflowing deluge of packaging waste, suppliers of circular materials systems are also popping up. In response to new EU provisions intended to significantly reduce packaging waste, “Circular Packaging as a Service” models could shape the future. These models see packaging as an investment rather than as waste material. Appreciation of the value of raw materials has increased sharply, not least because of the Ukraine crisis and the collapse of familiar supply chains. This shift in perspective is imperative if we are to ensure sustainable production in the interior design industry.

Circular packaging instead of mountains of waste by Alfonso Navarro

Under the banner of neo-ecology and to control the excessive deluge of packaging waste, suppliers of a circular materials system – the “Circular Packaging as a Service” model – are popping up. (Photo: Alfonso Navarro on Unsplash)

The future of retail

The path from trend researcher buzzwords to actual product can be a long one. How companies translate the wishes of customers into innovative goods will be a key issue in the coming years. The new requirements often affect the entire value creation chain.

At the same time, the retail industry of the future must find answers to at least two decisive challenges. Firstly, companies must identify and exploit the potential of digitalisation and connectivity in their own production processes. This won’t necessarily be plain sailing, but businesses that shy away from the challenge risk jeopardising their ability to remain competitive. Secondly, the internal values throughout the entire supply chain must be scrutinised and brought in line with sustainable thinking. Neo-ecology is a holistic concept that, for their own survival, all sectors of the economy would be well advised to place at their core.

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