Retail and Hospitality for Every GenerationThursday, 18th July 2019
On Friday 12th July, pro-manchester’s Retail & Ecommerce and Hospitality sector committees ran their first joint event at B Works.
Sian English, Head of Multichannel at seventy7, opened the event by saying how excited she was with the joint event… because she likes to eat and likes to shop! The aim of the event is to determine how these sectors can appeal to every generation. Or as Sian puts it, can you be the be the puppies, kittens or Ryan Gosling of the retail and hospitality world?
Retail panel: Nicola Gleave – founder of Refashion; Hannah Beaumont-Laurencia – Beaumont Organic.
Kicking off the retail panel with a few stats, Sian told delegates that physical stores are still the preferred option for every generation and phone is the worst. All want to see new products in store, which explains Zara’s strategy of having a drop every week to increase footfall.
Do values matter?
Nicola believes that environmental sustainability is a key driver across fashion and beyond. Consumers are increasingly looking for brands that are values driven. Hannah agrees and says the UK still falls behind other markets, such as Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia. Education is needed for customers to understand the value and cost of production.
The UK government has recently published an inquiry into the impact of fashion on the environment. None of the recommendations have been passed or approved, but they did name and shame some fast fashion retailers who have since started to take some action.
A quick poll showed roughly half the delegates have paid more to shop with a sustainable brand. The research backs this up and shows the younger generation are most likely to do this. Hannah noted that she expected customers in her first physical store to be baby boomers but is actually seeing many younger customers who are saving up. She credits influencers and celebrities with making these values fashionable.
Customer experience is in the spotlight more than ever, how are you dealing with managing human interactions and what have you learned?
It’s about more than just buying, according to Hannah. They host a range of events in store – from macramé to organic wine tasting – to build the customer relationship and bond. There may be delay to purchase but it is part of the customer journey.
For Nicola, her customers are buying into a personal story and passion. Refashion was borne out of a negative situation – when Nicola was diagnosed with breast cancer – and is a force for good. Ultimately, people still buy from people.
Technology – do you love it or hate it?
Hannah believes customers still want a person on the other side. The chatbot is popular with customers of all ages and social media videos allow her to offer a personal experience to a global market.
How do you strike the right balance between being future focused and what’s happening right now?
Staying true to your values and vision for the business is key for Hannah. Take the time to understand what your current customers want and evolve with them. Nicola sees that the world is changing faster than ever; businesses need to invest in short- to medium-term planning. Retailers must be able to respond and react to new opportunities and markets, using feedback to continually improve and pivot as needed.
Final advice for the audience?
Collaboration! Nicola encourages everyone to find likeminded people and join forces. Stop thinking of everyone as competitors and you will be able to make a bigger impact. Which is definitely a sentiment close to the heart of pro-manchester!
Hospitality panel: Sam Jones – Commercial Director, Junkyard Golf; Fernando Marques – General Manager, Tast Catala; Soo Wilkinson – Creative Director, Igloo Design.
The second panel of the morning was chaired by Lucy Noone-Blake, Pear Communications, who has worked with many of Manchester’s best known hospitality brands.
What are people expecting in a night out / day out experience now, that they weren’t 10 years ago?
Customers are looking for a higher quality of service, according to Soo, due to the sheer volume of great restaurants and bars in the region. Venues need to provide different events and experiences to attract every demographic in the neighbourhood. For example, The Creameries runs a story club on Wednesday afternoons, offering entertainment for children alongside high quality food.
Sam has seen Junkyard Golf evolve from a pop up on Beat Street (literally filled with old rubbish!) to an offering with permanent leases in Manchester, Oxford, Leeds and Liverpool. The Shoreditch pop up was hugely successful and will soon move to a permanent venue in London. Sam believes the growth is due to the fact it is a low skill level, enjoyable experience. It is the perfect first Tinder date!
Tast decided to offer three distinct experiences within the same venue: relaxed bar, smart/casual restaurant and fine dining. Having well known names behind the brand – including Pep Guardiola and 5 Michelin star chef, Paco Pérez – impacts the perception of the restaurant. They worked hard to ensure it can appeal to those looking for a drop in, light meal to those keen to see the chef’s skills (including creating a Caesar salad you can drink!).
What is the impact of social media?
Junkyard Golf is designed to encourage customers to share photos on Instagram, whether these are of the course, food or cocktails. This also helps to generate consumer data and targeted campaigns. The ideal is where those customers become brand advocates and actively engage with social channels between visits.
Soo sees the same happening at The Creameries. Anything a little different will get shared, such as their plants, original 1930s tiling and “drink milk for health” sign. It’s all about getting people in, wanting to stay and spend money, and encouraging others to visit. Word of mouth is still essential – even if that word is online.
In Tast, the cutlery and crockery are deliberately chosen to create an authentic Catalan experience. The special plates used on Sunday – such as the purple octopus or blue fish dishes – help to make the customer feel like they’re on holiday (despite the Manchester weather!).
Where do you go next when the market catches up? Evolve or start afresh?
As a designer, Soo’s head is always in the future. She works with range of operators to give new a feel or ideas. Venues like Hatch are constantly changing, which appeals to their local customers: tech companies in the adjacent incubator, students and young professionals.
Landlords tended not to be forward thinking, but Sam is starting to see the more proactive ones making direct approaches as Junkyard can fill spaces most other operators can’t use. They have to keep changing and evolving to ensure repeat visitors. They are not just competing against other venues, but against sitting at home and watching Love Island. The challenge is to get people out and spending.
There is pressure on Tast to offer traditional Spanish dishes requested by customers. Fernando is determined that they must stay true to the offering and only produce Catalonian cuisine. It is an education piece, but one that enables them to remain authentic and stand out in the market. 98% of wine list is Catalonian (the biggest list in UK) and illustrates the impact French Catalonia has on the regional cuisine.
The Creameries maintains a similar focus but on locally sourced produce and suppliers. The variety comes from changing menus each week. Customers build up trust in the chef and appreciate they are not overwhelmed by choice.
Sam quips that choosing a venue as the first date shows a lot of trust! Junkyard has the head start on offering an experience but interaction with people is still key. Customers will always remember the service and the people who made them feel special.
Drawing the event to a close, Lucy thanked B Works for hosting the discussions. It is in itself the perfect example of adapting a traditional offering (banking) to appeal to the next generation.