Strong identities are rewarded in retail: during this year's RetailDetail Night, brands that clearly distinguished themselves were celebrated and praised, as many retailers tried to overcome this difficult year by making a difference.
Jef Colruyt, CEO of the eponymous retailer, also had identity as a centre piece of his key-note speech. In the DNA of Belgium's biggest supermarket group the main building block is optimism, and that has several different consequences. Optimism drives the company's desire towards being carbon-neutral by 2030, but it also fuels the belief that every one of its 29,900 employees is a brand ambassador.
Especially in these times of social media and fake news, the CEO thinks it is important to know who you are and where you come from: this also helps with the choices that the company makes. Being people-focused means that Colruyt wants to ensure a good environment and society, while the retail group, due to its idiosyncratic and rational character, stays away from copying others.
Award winners standing out
During the evening, four companies saw their year rewarded with a special prize. Dutch Kruidvat is the first ever winner of the award Favourite store of the Belgians, the new non-commercial consumer award for which Belgians voted en masse. Fashion chain ZEB won the new Customer Centricity Award, rewarding the smart use of data. This year's best flyer was Casa's, which - according to the jury - is increasingly focusing on content and inspiration. Jef Colruyt, finally, is the winner of the retail Captain of the Year.
Retail professor Gino Van Ossel gave his own summary of the Retail Year, featuring the start of "Buy one, get two for free" campaigns and a further move to continuous discounts. The customers are starting to expect discounts at any moment of the year - possibly the retailers are at fault here as well. Retail chains themselves are also often sold for discount prices, the professor notes.
Van Ossel recommends that, above all, you continue to invest. He wishes the sector three things for a successful 2020: great customers, lots of creativity, and an insane amount of energy. RetailDetail is already taking this advice to heart with the opening of a brand new live retail lab in Antwerp: retailers, brands and consumers will be able to discover the future for themselves on 5,500 sqm of inspiration at Foster and Retailhub 2.0.