Tobe: Retailers Catering to Consumers

The New Year is all about the customer.

Trend-forecasting company Tobe unveiled its 2011 State of the Consumer Report Thursday, a compilation of surveys and statistics that highlight larger trends in the market. According to the findings, the economy has become more consumer-centric — focused on what the average shopper wants and how to reach them. As a result, retailers are finding new ways to reach a wide audience, including everyone from baby boomers to teens and tweens.

“We are in the midst of a seismic shift in the retail paradigm,” said Tobe EVP Catherine Moellering. “[The change] is challenging retailers in their methods of merchandising.”

One way retailers are working to attract consumers is by encouraging more purposeful purchases, referring to socially responsible products and those affiliated with charities. Among those cited were JCP Cares (from JCPenney) and Toms Shoes for its one-for-one initiative.

In-store initiatives included revamped store layouts and in-store technologies such as Macy’s Herald Square’s new-for-fall Magic Fitting Room, where consumers can virtually dress themselves after browsing merchandise on an iPad. Kohl’s also launched an e-commerce kiosk in stores for customers to search for merchandise.

And signs point to a strong year ahead, said Moellering.

“It’s a whole idea of engagement strategies,” she said. “Contests and crowdsourcing continue to be popular, and [customers] are comfortable being part of the action.”