J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group and WWD Release "Frontier(Less) Retail"

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Amazon is first stop for Millennials and Gen Z-ers in the US, UK, China and beyond


In every direction retail is becoming limitless, borderless and expansive. The digital and physical worlds are blurring in new ways, as interfaces for retail are moving beyond the smartphone and into our home environments.

The Innovation Group, the futurism and trend-forecasting consultancy of J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, today released "Frontier(less) Retail," a new report on the state of the retail industry that marks the group’s partnership debut with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), the leading authority on fashion, beauty and retail.

"Frontier(less) Retail" — inspired by what Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of the Innovation Group, observes as a retail landscape that is becoming “borderless, blurred and amorphous” — dissects these changes in retail, and offers predictions on how these shifts will evolve in the years to come.

The report also offers brands original insight into the challenges and opportunities brought on by the evolving retail industry.

“Frontier(less) is an apt description for retail right now,” said Greene. “In every direction retail is becoming limitless, borderless and expansive. The digital and physical worlds are blurring in new ways, as interfaces for retail are moving beyond the smartphone and into our home environments. And when it comes to the consumer, some would say their expectations are becoming limitless — whether it’s instant delivery, intuitive commerce or compelling store experiences.”

Ed Nardoza, Editor-in-Chief of WWD, commented further: “The best retailers don’t really differentiate physical from digital shopping. They need to offer whatever experience and convenience the shopper demands, when they demand it. The physical store isn’t dead, but now it’s only one platform. The fastest growth is happening in mobile, and the most successful brands and stores are adapting and finding ways to keep their identities consistent across all channels.”

"Frontier(less) Retail" reveals that it’s not just the physical and digital realms that are merging and blurring. With Boomers beginning to adopt the shopping habits of Millennials, mass retailers dabbling in luxury, and shoppers scouring the globe for the best deals, all frontiers, both literal and figurative, don’t mean what they once did.

The report includes original consumer data from the UK, US and China markets, surveying a total of 3,000 consumers about their shopping and purchasing habits across all channels. Key findings include:

  • 89% of US Millennials and 91% of Gen Z-ers say that if they’re looking to make a purchase online, they typically look at Amazon first to see if it sells the item
  • 96% of Chinese respondents are worried that items they buy online might be counterfeit, while 94% worry about payment security
  • 43% of UK Millennials and 53% of UK Gen Z-ers say that when they order an item online, they expect it to arrive in no more than two days
  • Gen Z-ers are the most experiential generation yet: our US sample said they would be more likely to visit physical stores that offered entertainment (80%), dining (73%), demonstrations of VR and AR technology (80%), and interactive experiences to select or customize products (79%)

The report also includes in-depth sections on:

  • Digital frontiers: We’re now contemplating a world in which retail is everywhere. As e-commerce grows more dominant, and internet access is viewed as more of a public utility like water or electricity, retail becomes ubiquitous in our urban spaces and everyday lives.
  • Experience frontiers: Retail is dividing between online shopping for pure utility, and shopping as an experience, in which physical stores remain a crucial touchpoint. We explore the implications of experientialism for retail, with six in-depth experience case studies.
  • China: We explore emerging Chinese retail trends, from heightened demand for premium food, to luxury brands investing in Chinese e-commerce platforms, to China’s approach to virtual-reality shopping.

Key retail markets to watch: The latest retail outlook from Seoul, Bangkok, New Delhi, and Dubai/Abu Dhabi.

The retail price of the full report is $1,000. To purchase the report or to download the free executive summary, visit JWTIntelligence.com.

About WWD
For 100+ years, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), a property of Fairchild Fashion Media, has been the media of record and industry voice of authority for senior executives in the global women’s and men’s fashion, retail and beauty communities and the consumer media that cover the market. Owned by Penske Media Corp, WWD provides a balance of timely, credible business news and key fashion trends to a dedicated readership.

About the Innovation Group
The Innovation Group is J. Walter Thompson’s futures, research and innovation unit. It charts emerging and future global trends and consumer change and innovation patterns, and translates these into insight for brands. It offers a suite of consultancy services, including bespoke research, presentations, co-branded reports and workshops. It is also active in innovation, partnering with brands to activate future trends within their frameworks and execute new products and concepts.

The Innovation Group is part of J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, a platform for global research, innovation and data analytics at J. Walter Thompson Company. It houses three key in-house practices: SONAR™, Analytics and the Innovation Group. For more information, please visit http://www.jwtintelligence.com and follow us @JWTIntelligence.

J. Walter Thompson Company was founded in 1864 and has been making pioneering solutions that build enduring brands and business for more than 150 years. Today the company has evolved to include several global networks including J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, Mirum and Colloquial.

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