Sunday 1 February 2015

Old Is Never Old In Retailing

Retailers looking for new products to add to their ranges may be wise to look back as well as forward because there are plenty of oldies but goodies out there that simply refuse to die and indeed are offering new opportunities.

The demise of retailers like Borders sounded the death knell for traditional book retailers around 5 years ago but more recent experience suggests that was premature. The British Library is reporting that visitor numbers are up by 10% and Britain’s leading bookseller is reporting rising sales in traditional printed books and flat sales for e-readers.

Apparently having a book in your hand has its attractions and the low-tech desire is now extending to things like mobile phones. US celebrities have been photographed using old flip phones in public. The danger of having their personal lives hijacked by using modern technology phones has lead to simpler forms of communicating with phones that just handle voice calls and SMS’s. For many that is all the technology they need. Add in the fact that reviving old phones is good for our planet (no need for energy hungry replacements) and you can see the attraction.

Polaroid is an “instant photo” company that rocked the industry back in the 60’s with its new technology. It went broke in 2007 as digital photography took over but the new owners of the Polaroid rights are struggling to keep up with sales of instant film as the concept revives. Apparently the click and whirr of a camera plus the instant hardcopy are factors that appeal to younger consumers. And thanks to modern applications like Instagram, the old Polaroid square photo format is one of today's preferred options.

And the list goes on - vinyl record sales are booming with 2014 recording (excuse the pun) the highest sales in 20 years. Typewriters have been boosted by Tom Hank’s declaration that “The tactile pleasure of typing is incomparable... there is a sheer physical pleasure to typing.”

The key with all these revivals is that the products impart a certain “soul” to everyday activities. So as you look for new products to stimulate your customers in 2015 don’t discard the old – revivals are in.