Euro RSCG Exec’s Buzzwords Reveal Retailer Challenges

NEW YORK — Marian Salzman, chief strategy officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide rolled out new terminology and challenges for retailers in her presentation to attendees yesterday at the National Retail Federation’s annual summit.

She introduced “prosumers” — shoppers who have snatched power from retailers and manufacturers with the help of online shopping, price comparison software and product reviews from other consumers.

Salzman also told the audience at New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel that the rise of the “metrosexual” should also worry online retailers. And who are these people? Men interested in upscale grooming products, finer fashions and accessories and personal services.

Retailers selling food and wine will benefit with this growing class of customers. So will day spas and hair salons.

Another trend is the Flashdance alert. Fashion, politics and pop culture suddenly are taking cues from the 1980s. A cheeky acknowledgment to excess is in, Salzman said. This is evident in the new popularity of tennis skirts, madras, Lacoste and Fred Perry in apparel. And it is no surprise that heavy metal and Madonna in Clubland are back in vogue.

Retailers have to grasp these societal shifts driving consumer change, Salzman said. If they do not, chances are that they will have missed another trend — “globesity.” Euro RSCG uses fashion industry research to claim that more than 60 percent of U.S. women and teen-agers today are in the plus-size category.

Many retailers in the audience doubtless will benefit from that trend. Salzman clearly sees a demand for super-sized couches and wider shoes to larger umbrellas and extended mattresses. Or was that a hint to the Grand Hyatt hotel staff for bigger chairs?

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