BSSU_QuestionPhotoOn April 2nd, Truth Central had the distinct pleasure of launching our latest study, the Truth About Shopping, at The Big Shopping Shakeup conference, a private, invitation-only conference hosted in partnership with the New York Times. Held in the beautiful New York Times building in Midtown Manhattan, attendees to the conference had sweeping views of the city that shoppers globally rate as the #1 retail destination in the world.

The conference was inspired by our desire to shake brands out of the current retail conversation, dominated as it is by big data, algorithms and personalization, and remind them about the importance of the real, raw, emotional side of shopping. Our keynote speaker Andy Murray, SVP of Creative at Walmart, summed this up perfectly when he said “it’s really important to keep a balance between hi-tech and hi-touch.” Our approach to investigating this dichotomy was mashing shopping together with ideas such as the human condition, pop culture, space and machines to see what we can learn from these other fields.

We discussed the Art of Shopping, which relates to the different ways in which brands are building inspiration and entertainment into the shopping experience. In the Truth About Shopping, we found that the majority of consumers are inspired while shopping, rather than go shopping because they’re inspired. A number of brands talked about how they are catering to this hunger for discovery. For instance, Rachel Shechtman from STORY spoke about how her store changes its theme (and its entire inventory) every 6-8 weeks, to keep shoppers coming back for more. Rachel Kraus from Westfield Malls talked about how they’re starting to build “man caves” in their malls, where men can watch TV, play pool or have a drink, freeing up their female companions to spend more time (and money), happy in the knowledge that the men were being entertained. In Jess Greenwood’s panel, experts discussed how we’re moving to a more visual web, which is impacting how items are displayed in store to mimic layouts familiar from Pinterest, Tumblr and other highly visual digital platforms.

However, we cannot underestimate the power of science and tech in this space. One key theme was around the Persistent Shopper, which relates to the constant state of shopping in which we will exist in the future. The experts were agreed that wearable technology is moving us towards a world where everything we see around us in the world will be shoppable, and all of the experiences we have will have the potential to be branded experiences. These technologies open up a world of new possibilities for the ways in which brands engage their fans.

The conference, dedicated as it was to bringing humanity back to the forefront of shopping, ended in a gallery filled with photographs commissioned by Truth Central for the Truth About Shopping study. The work of street photographers in New York, London, Mexico City, Shanghai and Dubai, they depicted the delight, guilt, frustration, joy and other emotions that are so much a part of the shopping experience. Ultimately, the look of joy on the face of a lady who just found the perfect dress, or the excitement of the faces of young boys as they play a new video game in store, perfectly illustrated what makes shopping so magical, and what brands should always remember to strive for.