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Monthly Newsletter | November & December 2019
S-CUBE Fixtures for Retail
Table of Contents
...Brick-and-Mortar Holiday!
Holiday Sales Predicted to Grow
Experiential Retailing
Brainy Design
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Brick-and-Mortar Holiday!
Physical stores will be a crucial part of a strong holiday spending season.
90% of U.S. adults plan to shop in-store for gifts and other related goods, and 97% of holiday shoppers plan to shop with a retailer that has a physical presence.

Promotions will drive in-store visits, with over 60% of respondents saying that searching for deals encourages them to make more trips to physical stores. 
The majority of holiday shopping will take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, with 86% of respondents planning to complete their shopping during that time period. Additionally, almost 60% of respondents plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend, with that number jumping to 73% for millennial shoppers. 
Topping the list of items shoppers will purchase this year are gift cards (63%), apparel/footwear/accessories (55%), toys/games (48%) and food/alcohol (43%). Holiday shoppers planning to buy electronics plan to spend most on video games/consoles (53%) and smartphones/accessories (50%). For children ages 0-12, the expectation is that 92% will ask for toys this year, and for those ages 13-19 gift cards are the gift of choice (61%).
“Our annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey once again shows that consumers are not only optimistic about the upcoming holiday season, but also continue to favor physical stores when shopping for gifts,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers expect convenience and experience when shopping, which means that those retailers with a good omnichannel strategy will likely see success this holiday season.”
The ICSC Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey was conducted online by Engine Insights on behalf of ICSC Sept. 16–18, 2019. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,003 U.S. respondents.


Holiday Sales Predicted to Grow
“The U.S. economy is continuing to grow and consumer spending is still the primary engine behind that growth.” -NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

“Nonetheless, there has clearly been a slowdown brought on by considerable uncertainty around issues including trade, interest rates, global risk factors and political rhetoric.  Consumers are in good financial shape and retailers expect a strong holiday season. However, confidence could be eroded by continued deterioration of these and other variables.”
“There are probably very few precedents for this uncertain macroeconomic environment,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “There are many moving parts and lots of distractions that make predictions difficult. There is significant economic unease, but current economic data and the recent momentum of the economy show that we can expect a much stronger holiday season than last year. Job growth and higher wages mean there’s more money in families’ pockets, so we see both the willingness and ability to spend this holiday season.”

NRF expects online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, to increase between 11 percent and 14 percent to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion, up from $146.5 billion last year.

The effect of tariffs on holiday spending — either directly or through consumer confidence — remains to be seen. Some holiday merchandise — including apparel, footwear and televisions — is subject to new tariffs that took effect September 1, and other products will have the tariffs applied on December 15. Retailers are using a myriad of mitigation tactics to limit the impact on consumers, and the impact will ultimately vary by company and product. Small businesses, in particular, have already been forced to raise prices. Nonetheless, 79 percent of consumers surveyed for NRF in September were concerned that tariffs will cause prices to rise, potentially affecting their approach to shopping.

Holiday sales during 2018 totaled $701.2 billion, an unusually small increase of 2.1 percent over the year before amid a government shutdown, stock market volatility, tariffs and other issues.

Numbers forecast by NRF may differ from other organizations’ forecasts that define the holiday season as a longer time period or include retail sectors not counted by NRF such as restaurants.


Experiential Retailing
Today, with the rise of Internet buying, how you set the stage of a brick and mortar retail store is more important than ever.

As with fashion, food, and music, retail environments must keep pace with the changes in consumer habits, particularly those of the newer generations of buyers. Younger buyers in particular are looking for motivation to seek out a store rather than shop from their sofa with a simple mouse click.

Continue reading...

Brainy Design:
How the Unconscious Mind Responds to Product Packaging
According to the BBC, the latest research suggests that the brain is a large predictive machine, constantly comparing incoming sensory information and current experiences against stored knowledge and memories of previous experiences so that it can predict what comes next. This ensures that the brain is prepared to deal with new occurrences optimally. These two functions come together whenever a mismatch occurs (ie something happens that wasn’t predicted) at which time your brain updates its cognitive models. Gut feelings, aka our intuitions, arise when the brain has made a significant match or mismatch (between the cognitive model and current experience), but this has not yet reached our conscious awareness.
The BBC also recently reported that supermarkets employ a number of practiced tools and tricks to encourage consumers to use their unconscious minds, including smells (such as freshly baked bread) to trigger memory and the beat of the music (at low tempo) to encourage a slower, more considered shop.

So how does graphic design affect the unconscious mind? We know that as we go about our day-to-day lives our unconscious mind is constantly processing information and much of the recognition accomplished by the brain does not trigger conscious thought — but it does trigger an emotional response. We can see signs of this in the recent scaling back of logos. If logos of globally recognized brands no longer need to inform, but simply need to trigger an emotional response, why do they need text? In fact, they don’t — and this can be seen in logos like McDonald’s, Apple, Nike, Mercedes, and Shell. Textless logos succeed because the unconscious mind is already handling all the work needed for recognition of the given brand, relying on the information and feelings we already have in place, having seen and likely interacted with the brand for years.

In almost all cases, brands seek to elicit a positive emotional response from consumers when they encounter the product on-shelf. Marketers have also been known to utilize outrage (at injustice) and sadness (at another’s loss) to trigger a strong empathetic response, followed by actions such as activism and philanthropy. But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to aligning brands with positive emotion since, especially in the food retail market, this tends to be the most effective route to sales.

Intuitive thinking, which colloquially is usually referred to as gut instinct, is notorious for leading us to buy impulsively and splurge on last-minute purchases; while analytical thinking after-the-fact can lead us to buyer remorse. Research has also shown that overthinking causes serious hindrance to our decision-making abilities and processes.

What’s crucial for packaging designers is finding a happy medium, which stimulates the eye and interest and supports positive feelings, while couching this within the framework that is being managed by the unconscious mind. If there’s an element of surprise or incongruence, the conscious mind, which may already be swayed, will add the information to the cognitive structure already in place, and depending on the outcome make the decision to purchase the item or leave it there.

All of this happens within just second or two.

As packaging designers, we want to elicit that bit of surprise, that incongruence, but not venture too far outside the construct to be rejected completely. Factors contributing to packaging design success include the typography, which provides a slew of signals including how traditional or forward-thinking a product is; the colour and how it relates to the product’s attributes and heritage; the shape, thickness, and quality of the carton/bottle/label; photography/illustration, which can indicate the groups of people most likely to find the product appealing, such as children; as well as any other flourishes which can lend a premium feel.

Of course, these factors are just part of the equation. In addition to all of the above, there are the elements brought by experienced and talented designers, which make the project more than the sum of its parts. One could say that designers are also using their unconscious minds, their intuition if you like, as part what guides them in their work, and that from design inception to consumer conversion we are all led to recognize and respond according to experience-based constructs which overlap — although this is all getting a tad bit Matrix-y.

The idea that our unconscious minds have such a strong bearing on the decisions we make is a compelling one, even though we don’t like to admit how much we do on ‘auto-pilot’. For packaging designers, it is an endlessly fascinating topic – one of which we all need to be conscious.


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