Top 5 trends in retail and franchise before we end this year


The year 2020 was a never before year for businesses across spectrum of industry. Each day we witnessed a challenging story – of survival, hope and lost opportunities. There was learning from each story.  While few continuing trends of 2019 were halted, there was rise of new trends in 2020 in the retail and franchise space.  Common was working from home, zoom meets and social distancing in malls and stores.

Apart from that, businesses in retail domain remained cautious. Cost cut across the board, job loss and store shut downs became the new normal. Midst all the challenges, expandnext saw a mix of past trend and rise of new trends which could become mega trends and follow 2021.  Among few, we noted the top five below:

1:  Products (including luxury) are transforming from being exclusive to inclusive. Social values expressed through luxury products now include gender equality, size inclusion, design diversity – look around – products are silently going unisex, brands no longer what to type caste for a certain section in society

2:  We will see more Cloud Kitchen adoption – 70% cloud and 30% brick and motor. QSR space need to adopt and transform into different business model, and accordingly the franchise model likely to change

3:  Fast Retail – We believe brick and mortar retail will continue to become more flexible, shorter lease terms, more pop-up stores near to consumer (including the digital brands, ex – Lenskart, Zivame), we will see more collaborations – in terms of space sharing, partnerships

4:  Anti- experience –  This is not negative trend, but wanted to use this term as precaution for brands who genuinely wanted to make it big in retail / franchise / distribution. What exactly is Anti-experience – it is phenomenon where in any point of time there will be distractions to invest / spend in wrong partners/ advisors/ brokers. Brand should avoid such distractions where franchise brokerage firm in India pretend to help but instead leave them in the middle without right help/ handholding

5:  Alt retail – Alternative retail models such as rental, resale and service-driven formats are moving retail beyond its traditional focus of selling (new) products. Collectively, it called “alt. retail”.  We expect these models not only to expand their reach to more consumers, but also to mature in 2021 and 2022.  Subscription and rental models – we likely to see traction in auto sector, also in furniture market.

Each trends has the potential to disrupt the franchise market in many ways. Brands need to operate with fresh objectives, keeping the cost minimum way forward and optimise the culture within!
(photo credit: Evonne Yuwen Teoh)

Customer Knowledge – Your Competitive Advantage for Bottom Line Growth

Customer knowledge

As per wikipedia Customer knowledge (CK) is the combination of experience, value and insight information which is needed, created and absorbed during the transaction and exchange between the customers and enterprise. Campbell (2003) defines customer knowledge as: “organized and structured information about the customer as a result of systematic processing”. According to Mitussis et al. (2006), customer knowledge is identified as one of the more complex types of knowledge, since customer knowledge can be captured from different sources and channels. (source: wikipedia)

Based on our research, Customer Knowledge is the second best competitive advantage for any company. First is Culture! . On an average, brands are spending 40% of their budget to manage Customer insights (part of customer experience ). However, few have partial or no idea where to spend the money mindfully. This is classic dilemma in small and medium businesses in India. The budget is not allocated well and there are over laps. These two point us to lack of understanding of the Importance of Customer Knowledge Management. Another problem is most of the data get wasted in the channels and distribution points. No one is capturing. No dedicated department to do the hard work.  However, we are not discussing this under this topic…


In any market situation, customers segmentation cannot go undefined. It makes no sense to offer product and service without clear understanding of customers. The way brands define customers, they define the problem and solve them efficiently. With the collective knowledge in small and medium businesses (in the COVID-19 era), expandnext reimagined  customer into 4 main categories –

INFLUENCERS – big ticket startups, innovators, doers –  they don’t need business consulting full service, they look for partners in crimes, outsource is best policy, agile buddies. They are problem solvers

The growth seekers – traditional business, multipliers/ Retail and franchise owners – look for specialised advisory services, don’t have deep idea of consulting, deep pocket but conservative

Lost stars – family business, unorganised or undefined business – they look for turnaround ideas, budget pockets, Often cynical and twice cautious before spending a dollar!

Lone fighters – Soloprenuers, unique preposition holders, domain wolfs – undefined ! They go either direction once they understand the advantage of advisory services. Difficult.


Note –

The digital and Technological needs are across the categories/ types of customers.

The categories of customers are mutually inclusive. They could overlap at some point of the growth stage and at the same time could move to other categories in case they lag behind or fail to perform due to internal mis-management ( example – influencer could fall into Lost stars due to several wrong decisions/ policy paralysis).


The consulting value chain:



Based on our experiences with these 4 types of customers, broadly – the engagement with consultant or consulting firm depends on the Level of business problems and Depth of relationships business (customers) wants to establish with constant / consulting agency.


Why bring Consulting Value chain in between  (customer knowledge) ?

Customer Knowledge  requires lot of digging, chasing, capturing, maintaining and finally drawing insights. Insights are highlighted by Consultant – internal team or an external agency or independent advisors. Companies must understand the Value Chain. Each level of Problems requires deep analysis of data which the converted into Insights. Insights are Customer knowledge a brand must have to pitch the next service or product. It is as basic as the simplified graphical representation above. Either companies hire consultants / insights team or outsource the insight processing to external consultants, advisory agencies must take initiative to understand its customer they are planning to sell or engage with.  Independent Consultants or advisory agencies should understand their market positioning and help companies / customers  understand the Consulting Value chain for successful engagement.

Similarly, the level of business problems ( Y-axis) also differs with 4 Customer Types. Big ticket customer (Influencers) would go for Trusted advisor. They hire full or part time Consultant /Subject Matter experts. However, the COVID-19 has accelerated the demand of Flexi independent consultants.  As per Flexing It, there is a significant growth in demand in Q2 , with companies increasingly leveraging consultants as they opt to keep costs variable while accessing top-tier expertise. Key shift in the professional gig economy in different sectors on the impact of COVID-19.

Customer Knowledge – competitive advantage

Once the customer are categorised, companies need to decide the  segmentation strategy.  This process will ensure competitive advantage by following action items in place –

  1. Set customer segmentation goals (Note: this is not one-size-fit-all thing/ it keeps changing as per problem you are solving)
  2. Custom segment the customers (group it as per your choice)
  3. Target and reach your customer segments
  4. Analyze your customer segments ( you can customise / adjust as required)

The above 4 steps based one your Customer Knowledge is your competitive advantage over others in any market segment.  Eventually once you put the above steps into process / as a repeat behaviour action. It will become part of the company culture!

Thank you for reading