You certainly don’t need us to tell you what kind of a year it’s been. So many things went the wrong way…but then again the fact that you’re reading this means at least one thing went right for you: you made it through 2021.
So, it seems only fitting that when it comes to the business of the retailing of consumer products – and those products themselves – that we take a moment to reflect on 21 of them (get it?) that we are more than grateful are over. And with the hope that they will not continue, endure or otherwise inflict their own special blend of pain on what we all so desperately want to believe will be the better year that 2022 presents.
In no particular order, here are some of the particulars of the past 12 months that we wish Auld Lang Syne to…as in will be forgotten.
1. Metaverse: Aside from the fact that absolutely nobody, including The Zuck, can explain what it is, we can’t wait for this word to join the Information Superhighway and other e-nomenclature that have been left in the silicone dust.
2. Containers: For most of us who used to use this word to describe vessels holding milk or leftovers, we can’t wait for people to stop being obsessed with where their next container is coming from…and how much it will cost.
3. Shortages: Whether it’s people or products, we’ve all had quite enough of there not being enough of what we want, not to mention need. Bring back the land of good and plenty.
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4. Employees: They’re not associates, team members or, worse, cast but they are still underpaid and underappreciated. Here’s to that continuing to change in the new year.
5. Curating: Here’s another word that needs to be retired. Too many companies equate curation with “Hey, what do we have we can sell?”
6. Department Store Deconstruction: Perhaps the most idiotic idea of the year, the thought of cutting up these retailers into e-com and non-com pieces goes against every business strategy out there today…not to mention common sense.
7. Department Store Trash Talk: Reports of the death of this format remain…well, ridiculous. Look at the recent sale of Selfridges to understand good department stores are going to be around for some time. And valuable too.
8. Dollar Store Discrimination: Too many retail elitists still don’t give this channel – one of the more vibrant and innovative formats in the business – enough respect and acknowledgement. That needs to change.
10. New Store Euphoria: We wish new and resurrected store brands that arrive with more hype than the latest Kanye release would be put into some more perspective and not pronounced the greatest thing since sliced bread. (Begging the question, BTW, what was the greatest thing before sliced bread?)
11. DTC Delight: How many more times do we have to watch digitally native brands open stores or go into third-party distribution before we finally declare the direct-to-consumer-ONLY model doesn’t work?
12. Resale Redux: The past two years have proclaimed resale and re-retail another sliced-bread phenomenon but we’re going to find out how much a creature of the times this format actually is and what happens to this model once things calm down.
13. Rental Redux: Another breakthrough candidate, the rental business may also be a product of the pandemic times. Rental has been around a long time and will continue so, but maybe not at the levels some people are talking about now.
14. NFT (‘Nough For Today?): One more creation that is hard to figure out that just seems to raise the age-old adage that “If something sounds too good to be true, it is.”
15. Crypto-Kleptomania: Perhaps we’re just jealous we didn’t get in on this sooner but if it doesn’t remind you of either a certain Mr. Ponzi or S&H Green Stamps – or both – maybe you’re not paying attention. Then again, maybe we’re not.
16. Celeb-Kleptomania: We once understood well known designers extending their brands and even got when the occasional star-du jour broke through with products, but it’s reached staggering levels now. That said, this correspondent is available for licensing and endorsement deals in 2022.
17. Dead Brands Walking: The tendency to resurrect old brand names and star them in the next Day of the Living Dead sequel became out of control these past few years. Let’s let sleeping dogs (dog-of-a-brands) lie next year.
18. Brand as Trash: For years people have talked about the diminishing value of good brand names. Those people were proven very wrong during the pandemic. It’s a lesson that shouldn’t be lost as we move on.
19. The Price is Wrong: It was a year when suppliers and retailers found the plus sign on their pricing guns for the first time in decades. They shouldn’t get used to it.
20. Chinese Takeout: Like sparring spouses, the U.S. and China have had a tough relationship most recently. Both countries need each other, so they have to find a way for marital (and merchandising) bliss. The kids caught in the middle should be looking for foster homes in the meantime…just in case.
21. 2020-too?: The turning of the calendar page (real or virtual) doesn’t mean that all the problems of 2021 magically go away. But as quickly as many of them developed, one can wish they disappear in similar real time. Patience, however, may be the greatest skill – and virtue – we will all need for the New Year about to begin.