The year 2011 is showing great signs of retail growth due to solid Black Friday sales. Shoppers with pent up demand are now looking to open their checkbooks this holiday season and make up for the past few years of shying away from making discretionary purchases. However, 2012 will be a challenging year for inventors and retailers alike. When times are tough, people tend to stay close to home and gravitate towards things that are familiar and comforting to them.
Earlier in the year, I spoke to numerous buyers from major retail chains and almost all of them echoed the same sentiments – that while they are growing their sales with trusted brands that consumers feel good about, they are no longer scaling back or avoiding bringing in new products from new companies. With sluggish retail sales at major retail chains and even bankruptcy filings from well known chains such as Linens 'n Things and Circuit City, retail buyers are being squeezed with limited opportunities to bring in more inventory and are simply buying what they need to survive and get through these challenging times.
That being said, there are still many opportunities for inventors to get on the shelves at retail. The key will be to “give the people what they want” and based on my extensive research and conversations with industry experts and retail executives alike, I have listed some product categories that are thought to be important growth categories in 2012. In order for leading retailers to differentiate themselves going forward, they must offer unique products along with the innovative everyday items we always purchase. This is great news for inventors! In fact, a number of brands such as Proctor & Gamble are actively seeking innovative product submissions as they are looking to inventors and small business for creative and exciting new products that can give them an edge at retail.
For inventors and entrepreneurs, the time to bring that product idea in your mind to life is now! By creating products that match well with current consumer demand, you may be well positioned to offer consumers innovative items that they are seeking and reap the rewards of your hard work. Popular websites who regularly monitor retail trends and consumer buying habits such as Trendwatching.com, euromonitor.com, retailingtoday.com, reuters.com, and cesweb.org have conducted various studies with consumers as well as manufacturers to learn what types of products people may wish to purchase in the coming year. Combined with conversations with leading retail chain buyers and our own perceptions of social trends, here is what we predict will be HOT.
HOT CATEGORIES FOR 2012
Toys and Games
Always a popular category! I have read numerous articles from manufacturers who plan to expand their product line to include outdoor play items like backyard toys such as inflatables, playhouses, sand and play boxes, and even board games continue to sell well despite a digital world.
According to Packaged Facts, a leading market research firm, the pet products industry is still growing and could surpass the 12 billion dollar mark in 2012. Convenience items such as travel accessories for pets will make up a large portion of the growth and all natural products will be in demand.
All natural and organic are hot buzz words when it comes to baby products! Items such as strollers, eco-friendly teddy bears, and convenience items for moms that care for babies all day will be in high demand as parents are craving lifestyle items that make their days easier and less stressful.
Baby Boomer Products
This is and will continue to be a fast growing category as the first wave of baby boomers that turn sixty will be in the tens of millions. This group continues to demand more relevant products that keep them looking and feeling young. From technology products such as gadgets, brain games, and fitness items, there are abundant opportunities for inventors to create products that will be needed for years to come. I have spoken with a few buyers that mentioned they are seeking magnification products, items that amplify sound, and technology items such as sleep assistive devices that help people to fall asleep easier.
Video Game Accessories
Here is a category that just gets getting bigger and better. According to Fox News, this ever growing market may surpass the 20 billion dollar mark in 2012 for the consoles and software alone! The accessory market for items such as game pads is already in excess of 1 billion dollars leaving inventors with a lot of opportunity to cash in on this fast growing segment. There are millions of kids and adults who regularly play video games. With in demand video consoles such as Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, there is a great opportunity to create accessory items and devices that make the personal gaming experience more enjoyable.
Organic products are in demand and will be desired at by retail buyers. Organic does not only mean food items. Clothing, handbags, and bath and body products are just a few examples of products that are made of organic materials.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, slim multimedia cell phones (MP3, web access), cameras, functional watches, tablet PC’s, and flat screen TV’s will continue to be popular while decreasing in price. Creating accessories for these items will be in demand according to retail buyers such as computer accessories and organizational products such as unique furniture to keep files and media in one place.