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Retailers need to get real
Primedia Lifestyle Group

According to Doug Mayne, Group MD of the Primedia Lifestyle Group, a Primedia Unlimited company, those operating within the retail world need to take a closer look at their authenticity.

“I believe that authenticity is one of the biggest trends that will affect sales and profitability in 2014,” he says. “We’ve noticed in the retail environment that shoppers are really yearning for authentic experiences and there have been a few retailers already having success with it.”

Authenticity in the retail space simply means being original and innovative, true to personality or character and being able to connect with consumers at a personal level.

Vida-e is one such example. The coffee chain is known for purchasing their own coffee beans and making their own blends and coffees on site. They have become a global retailer on the back of being authentic. Vovotello is another example of a coffee retailer being authentic, with the outlet baking their own breads to accompany their menus.

“The Woolworths on Nicolway can also be considered as a great example,” says Doug. “The store boasts its own fishery, butchery, coffee shop and bakery with experts on site to assist consumers with their purchases and any questions they may have.”

The wheel turns and people are beginning to realise that they would rather have a conversation with a baker that knows what the exact ingredients in their breads are, or that is able to provide alternate recommendations on other products.

“On the whole and non-processed food side there has been an explosion of authentic or organic food markets over the years. “For instance the Bryanston organic market, the Irene market, Joburg’s Newmarket and more recently the Fourways farmers market opposite Montecasino are good examples.”

“The whole concept of authenticity comes as a result of people feeling ‘over-connected’,” says Doug. “We are currently accessible and connected 24/7/365 – perhaps we’re beginning to look for more opportunities to live life more authentically off the grid.

In many ways we could consider this move a technology backlash. One very well known trend setter and reporter, Dion Chang, has identified Data pollution and the rise of the Buddhist geek as one of his trends for 2014.”

Dion says: ‘From the daily barrage of emails to the detritus of social media over sharing, we’re producing data on a massive scale. It’s slowly dawning on us that, just as the industrial revolution produced environmental damage, we too are polluting our virtual worlds, becoming counterproductive professionally as well as having a detrimental impact on our personal lives. As a result, a cyber self-help industry is emerging. “Digital Detox” is the new buzzword and the concept of Buddhist geeks the rather odd manifestation.’

Doug continues: “A good example of authenticity is the independent fish and butchery offerings at Dunkeld Centre. In addition it offers an independent green grocer, bakery etc. It has everything you’d need in terms of an authentic food experience.”

“Those who are bold enough to develop great concepts will reap the rewards,” he says.

When it comes to non perishable items, finding authenticity is not impossible. “In the clothing sector for example, authenticity could possibly come in the form of quality,” he says. “Mr Price is authentic due to the value and  quality in their clothing, sport equipment and home goods. That is their way of being true to themselves and their customers.”

“I think that there’s a lot of scope for retailers and marketers to integrate authenticity into their campaigns. At a recent cook off promotion at one of our centres, we invited celebrity chefs to take part in the challenge and consumers could get up close and personal with them, while learning how to improve their own cooking skills. Shoppers were also able to gain more knowledge about the fresh ingredients they were using, and had the added advantage of chef’s providing one-on­­-one guidance.”

As an international example, Doug sites the open market in Chadstone Mall, Sydney. “Here’s a market type setting within a closed space such as you’d find a Woolworths or Pick n Pay occupying, but with separate operators like fisheries, fruit and vegetable merchants, bakers etc, all individually owned and managed, co-habiting quite seamlessly under one roof.”

As clients of Primedia Lifestyle Marketing Services, Doug and his team are driving the authenticity process. “We’re actively driving his process by engaging with our property landlords by guiding and advising them on the best way forward according to their individual needs. The bottom line is that our business and that of our clients needs to evolve so that we really get to know who our shoppers are and what they want, what experiences they’re seeking out and provide them with those,” says Doug.

“Marketing professionals need to be more strategic in this space and clients need to adapt mall offerings to take advantage of these trends.”