The 2022 Retail Trends You Should Be Watching Now

The 2022 Retail Trends You Should Be Watching Now

December 22, 2021
Phil Lempert

By RDBA CEO Phil Lempert

The past 12 months have been among the most challenging for all grocery retailers – from the mom and pops to the largest of mega stores. Labor and product shortages, combined with a broken supply chain and an ailing truck driver workforce has piled new challenges on all aspects of retail, including those confronting the retail dietitian. Our members have quickly embraced digital to offer the words and images of wisdom and empowerment of health and wellness, recipes, cook-a-longs, budget saving tips and encouragement during these challenging times to millions of grocery shoppers.

As we prepare for the coming year our reality includes continued COVID uncertainties and responses. 2022 also indicates there will be a growing shopper interest in their physical and mental health. A new survey from the American Psychological Association reported in late October that “despite many struggles, U.S. adults retain a positive outlook.” In fact, according to the survey conducted by The Harris Poll among 3,035 adults across the U.S., 70 percent said they were confident “that everything will work out after the coronavirus pandemic ends, and more than three-quarters said, all in all, they are faring well during the pandemic.” Make no mistake, especially among Millenials and Gen Z, there is still much stress which the survey reports interferes with making basic decisions on a day-to-day basis; and across all generations stress levels remain higher than that of pre-pandemic levels. The APA Survey found that 52 percent report being either very or somewhat concerned about personal health, and 51 percent are concerned about health problems affecting their family.

Our trend forecast is optimistic about the coming year.

We anticipate even more attention and solutions focused on climate change. While the solutions may seem distant, what has happened over the past few years is the development of a unique climate infrastructure built through sensor-studded satellites, aircraft, and ocean buoys with data-collection technologies and tools that have delivered meticulous measurements of temperatures, ocean currents, soil moisture, air quality, cloud cover and hundreds of other data points that serve as the foundation to develop solutions.

Originating in the 1920s, the Hemline Index theory developed by Wharton economist George Taylor is based on the length of women’s skirts and the stock market direction has a direct correlation – the shorter the skirt, the more bullish the stock market. While many, including myself, question this theory’s accuracy in today’s world, I do see a correlation in today’s advertising styles with those of the optimism of the younger generation in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the U.S. was moving towards ending the Vietnam War and people were coming together to focus on “peace and love.” We are witnessing more institutional advertising messages promoting caring about others than we’ve seen in decades. Subaru’s ads focus on how the car company is helping their communities through Feeding America, Make-a-Wish Foundation and the ASPCA to name just a few of their charities. A Gucci fragrance ad, reminiscent of the pop-art psychedelic animated one-time leading shampoo brand Herbal Essence, transforms us from reality to the colorful joy-filled (Gucci’s words, not mine) fantasy world of Miley Cyrus. Baby boomers will smile as they read this, and remember the countless album covers from Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, The Beatles, Procol Harum and even the Nashville hillbilly Boots Randolph that promised a new and better future. 2022 will fuel that same passion and the urge to be in a better place together than we are now.

Grocery delivery has dominated the food press in 2021 – dark store micro-fulfillment centers, 15-minute super-fast delivery, autonomous vehicle and robot deliveries have all pushed shoppers into a frenzy that is focused on speed. The question is whether a shopper truly wants this. In New York City, where the super quick bicycle delivery start-ups are being rolled out – there are reports of more accidents with both automobiles and pedestrians, more delivery people being held up (sometimes as gunpoint) in order to steal their electric bikes (instead of stealing the pint of ice cream that costs over $10 to satisfy that immediate gratification urge), and an overwhelming stressed-induced job where supervisors are demanding faster, faster, faster. Domino’s outlets in many major cities in the U.S. have purchased gift cards from competing local restaurants and are giving them to Domino’s customers to support local restaurants; and uniting both customers and small restaurant owners against third-party delivery services which charge from 10-30 percent of the order in fees, resulting in many restaurants reporting having to take losses on those orders. Domino’s ads are encouraging customers “to skip the delivery apps and order directly from a local restaurant.” We expect to see a similar, more pronounced effort in 2022 from supermarket retailers who according to industry reports, lose about $10 on every third-party delivery service order.

And that’s just the start of our 2022 Trend Forecast and Predictions. For more of our 2022 Forecast and Predictions, be sure to attend the RDBA Virtual Experience on April 5-7, 2022 where we will release our full report.

Thank you for your support of RDBA this past year, and here’s to ushering in a great 2022 together!