As we look ahead to all of the promise of 2013, we must take a moment first to reflect on 2012, which proved to be a very interesting year! While retail continues to slowly crawl back from a rough few years during the recession, it seems that people continue to find a way to shop despite their personal financial hardships.
According to various popular polls, it seems that 2013 will be more about spending money on things that make them happy and healthy than ever before. Consumers plan to spend less on frivolous items and more on practical ones. With retail holiday sales predicted to increase just a mere few percent for 2013 (and I find it hard to believe this can be predicted a year in advance), retailers will continue to ramp up the in-store experience while improving the on-line shopping experience that is tailored to each individual shopper in order to grow sales beyond what is being predicted.
Recently, I spoke to some buyers I know well who work for major retail chains and each had varied opinions about how 2013 may turn out. Some felt that the outlook for their business was favorable, and they will continue to seek out new and innovative products from well-known brands as well as young emerging companies and inventors. Others felt that with the threat of the fiscal cliff and with consumers feeling uneasy with the near term, they would continue to act cautiously and watch inventories carefully and only test new items in a limited number of stores to see how they perform.
This year as in years past, retailers will come and go and new ones will pop up. However, most retailers will continue to find ways to do more business on their own websites and drive consumers to them. The sales action will not be limited to ones own website, though. With deal-of-the-day sites having gone from being virtually unheard of to becoming as popular as a rock star, big and little brands are taking advantage of leveraging these mega popular sites for their own gain. Moving excess inventory and simply growing your brand awareness are just a few benefits these brands are reaping from working with these daily deal sites.
If you are an inventor with a potentially hot new product, this seems like it will shape up to be another fruitful year as long as the product is packaged well, priced right, and is well marketed. Based on my annual 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 2013. 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! Some of these categories mimic those from 2012, but a few new ones are emerging and this represents real opportunity for the brave entrepreneur!
For consumer product entrepreneurs, the time to develop and market your new product is right 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 attract those who are willing to spend for convenience and fun items alike. There are various sites that also will predict what items will be hot holiday offerings for 2013 including leaders like dealio.com. Combined with conversations with leading retail chain buyers and our own perceptions of social trends, here is what we predict will be HOT in retail in 2013.
HOT CATEGORIES FOR 2013
Health & Wellness
This category is booming and is poised to boom even more this year. With items ranging from anti-stress drinks and pills to organic skin care to natural products that contain the extract Seabuckthorn, wellness is at the top of most retailers lists for must-have products for their customers. I have been seeing fast growth with protein and muscle-building foods and ones that help with brain function. With the boomer population continuing to grow quickly, these are desirable products. Gluten and lactose free products continue to become more readily available and affordable.
I know…cars right? But it seems the auto industry has made a turn for the better, and we will see a lot more hybrid and electric vehicle dotting the landscape. With gas at over three dollars a gallon, these types of autos will continue to attract customers. With prices dropping, they will become more affordable to many, as well.
Robots are just plain cool, and it’s no surprise that this industry is targeting everyday Americans. With the Roomba robotic floor cleaner paving the way a few years ago, various companies are looking for ways to provide remedies for household chores and unique entertainment. Look for these “personal” robots to come on the scene this year - especially those that collaborate with your tablets and smartphones.
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 Apps
Here is a category that just keeps getting bigger and better, and now it’s going more virtual than ever! Last year, Fox News predicted that this market may surpass the 20 billion dollar mark in 2012 for the consoles and software alone. While the numbers are not in yet, it appears we may have indeed eclipsed that mark. However, the video game business continues to shift toward app-based play as kids and adults alike simply download games right to their phones or computers and dont need an entire video game console that is not portable. There are millions of kids and adults who regularly play video games, and those companies that cater to the ever changing market will make the personal gaming experience more enjoyable and more affordable for all.
Solar started picking up steam in 2012 and will continue to in 2013. From solar watches to cell phone chargers, consumers should react favorably to these convenient and environmentally sensitive products.
Unchanged from 2012, this category will remain a leader for retail chains and online retailers. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, smart phones (web access), tablet PC’s, and flat screen TV’s will continue to be popular while decreasing in price. Creating accessories for these items such as protective covers and customized “skins” will continue to be in demand according to retail buyers.