WGSN Live 2023: 4 Key Predictions (And What They Mean for Store Design)

Key takeaways:

- Brands that have a genuine purpose and are truly helping to create a better lifestyle for consumers will win big

- As we begin to spend time in the Metaverse, trends in digital environment design will influence real-world design preferences

- Co-creation experiences will significantly increase in value in the coming years

- Brands have to start investing in unexpected ways of being seen and experienced

Intro

Last week, WGSN gave their interior design and consumer behaviour trends forecast for 2023 and beyond.

Their research pulls together trends and forecasts based on a plethora of datapoints across consumer behaviour, design and market trends to paint a picture of where we’re heading.

What that means for your store design projects is rounded up below.

Design Trend 1: Warm Minimalism

Highlighting a consumer behaviour trend they labelled as ‘Care-taking’, WGSN’s contributors spoke about how consumers are focusing more on relationships and rest, with many pushing back on rat race, always-on culture; as a result, ‘home anywhere’ products - which allow you to live and work from anywhere – will continue to boom.

The more time goes on, the more consumers will prioritise their mental health and wellbeing. This filters into our homes and physical spaces too, in a design trend WGSN highlighted as Warm Minimalism.

Logically speaking, less clutter means less stress.

But that doesn’t mean consumers will seek traditionally cold, empty spaces in their definition of minimal; they will seek to create and hangout in spaces that feel safe, warm, and comforting.

What this means for store design

In store design terms, less has always been more, but this will become more and more prevalent as a mantra in coming years.

That said – and as the team debated here at Green Room a few weeks back – minimalism can go too far.

Largely, we all agreed that the new Veja store is minimal, but so minimal it almost looks like a pop-up rather than an owned brand space. In terms of the consumer experience, it doesn’t wow or excite, it just exists.

For a brand that tends to use splashes of colour in almost every product, it feels like a missed opportunity.

Of course, further down the scale, you have the YEEZY spaces, which are so extremely minimal, they almost become art in the way they make their point.

VEJA's new flagship spaces are minimal, but cold and colourless

Kanye's YEEZY spaces push the boundaries of minimalism to the extreme

But for ‘Warm Minimalism’, Aesop serve up a masterclass: minimal, but incredibly inviting. This is much more in fitting with consumer wants and needs moving forward.

This trend goes beyond store design though: it’s also about staff training and brand experience. For years now, consumers have been fed up of being ‘sold to’ and instead want to ‘buy from’. The way you hire, train and incentivise staff will be key to creating the warm feeling many consumers will seek.

AESOP's brand spaces are the perfect example of warm minimalism.

Design Trend 2: Outdoor Living 

Hand-in-hand with the fact that people are planning on working away from the office more, they are also focusing more on outdoor living. 

The WGSN team aligned this to a consumer behaviour trend they labelled ‘Democra-sization’: consumers are rejecting ‘normal’ on all fronts and don’t like to be told what normal looks like now.  

Unique and personal rules. Brands that embrace that will thrive. 

While consumers are increasing investment levels in their homes, they will also continue to seek brands that give them the chance to get away from the home and live elsewhere, as well as those that help them to challenge the status quo.

‘Provoking Protopias’ was another behaviour trend highlighted which interlinks with the above: consumers are leaning towards brands that promote visions of a perfect, protopian future.

What this means for store design

The fact we aren’t living like we used to means we aren’t shopping like we used to either.

We’re instead starting to crave refreshed experiences that tweak the norm, even if just ever so slightly.

All of the major fashion houses, for example, have been increasing their investments into bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels in order to give consumers a new kind of experience within the same brand world; H&M also opened Hotel Hennes last month.

Popping up in unexpected ways and places will become more and more expected over the next few years.

Your in-store experiences should also be created by thinking more outside the box.

What other value can you add to consumers’ lives that fits within your brand’s vision and mission but sits outside of your normal offering?

Gucci's Giardino 25 Cafe in Florence

Inside H&M's Hotel Hennes lobby

Trend 3: Craft is Key

WGSN also spoke to ‘People Power Shifts’: community, co-creation, collaboration, co-designing and co-repairing are going to become more vital to consumers over the next few years. 

And as we become more and more digitally-enabled, more tactile experiences will be valued higher; materials that offer differing textures to touch will become more ubiquitous.

Mending things will be a much bigger trend, too; a product fixed = a consumer story to tell, especially if that product becomes unique as a result.

What this means for store design

Focus on creating services and experiences that give consumers the chance to collaborate on product creation.

Fixing products in a unique way makes the product hyper-personal and gives consumers a meaningful reason to head back to your store for a new experience.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a gold lacquer, embracing the cracks and making them stand out in a beautiful way; brands that think along these lines will thrive.

Personalisation is nothing new, but will become more and more valuable to consumers over the next couple of years.

There are also amazing opportunities around this craft-based trend for community via in-store workshops as well as user generated content creation.

Beyond that, don't just offer basic customisation such as name embroidery; focus more and more on collab experiences that use unique individuals, moments and textures. WGSN also highlighted that beyond 2023, designers will collab more with AI and nature. Think along these lines.

The Christopher Raeburn t-shirt creation workshop at our 2018 Timberland Bread&&Butter immersive brand experience

Coach's Tomorrow's Future Vintage Pop-up in Singapore featured co-creation opportunities with local artists

Trend 4: Surprising Brights

The WGSN team also referenced consumers’ changing taste in colours, focusing specifically on colours that work well both physically and digitally.

Metaverse spaces, for example – which they predict will evolve significantly by 2024 – have to feel warm, a consumer behaviour trend they described as ‘Digital Cozy’. And those same colours that boom in the digital scape will make their way into physical purchases.

Colours WGSN predict will boom:

- Radiant Red
- Elemental Blue
- Nuthsell
- Cyber Lime
- Fondant Pink
- Yellow Mustard

It won’t just be entire spaces that will be enamoured in these colours: “little moments of joy” will find their way into consumers’ homes via colourful hinges, screws and handles, which one contributor described as “Jewellery for the home”.

This is likely to go beyond the spaces we live and work in, filtering into fashion and other product choices.

What this means for store design

Beautiful, monochromatic spaces will continue to be an amazing way to grab the attention of your consumers and create what feels like a space that allows consumers to literally step inside your brand.

Mercedes-AMG UNXPCTD Pop-up at Munich Motorworld

Louis Vuitton pop-up by Virgil Abloh

Even if you’re not going full-on monochrome, bright splashes of colour are key for brightening moods and making consumers feel inspired when exploring your spaces.

This trend also proves that you have to sweat the small stuff.

Consumers want to be wowed in both big and small ways now and appreciate the finer details of your spaces just as much as those huge, wow moments.

Stand-out fixtures and fittings will not go unnoticed by consumers, and smaller in-store experiences can often land just as well as the big ones.

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And for more on this topic, check out WGSN's Create Tomorrow podcast on Milan Design Week, which explores similar trends.

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5 min25 Jul 22