A Look Forward: Retail, Restaurant, and Consumer Trends of 2018

A Look Forward: Retail, Restaurant, and Consumer Trends of 2018

A Look Forward: Retail, Restaurant, and Consumer Trends of 2018 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

With online only brands now expanding to physical spaces, and restaurateurs embracing and integrating technology at rapid speeds, the industry as a whole is as progressive as ever. So, what’s next? We asked a diverse group of our creative staff to weigh in on 2018. Here’s a look at their predictions for the year ahead.

Kevin Havens

Everlane HQ

Digital to Physical
I think we’re going to see more traditionally online only retailers try their hand at good ol’ fashioned brick-and-mortar retail, ala Amazon. Online apparel brand, Everlane just opened their first brick-and-mortar store, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the meal-kit services opened a restaurant or grab-n-go grocery store.

Everlane Process

Transparency in manufacturing and sustainability will be big in 2018. Where is your product made? How are the manufacturers treated? What’s the environmental impact? Consumers are not only seeking out ethically made products, but they’re expecting you to communicate these efforts up front.

Everlane Store

Quality Not Quantity 
Giant one-stop shops will continue to decline in popularity, while retail that focuses on meeting specific needs or providing a great experience will continue to increase in popularity. Large brands will diversify by opening smaller, more finely focused locations.

Suit Customization

Whether it’s constructing your entire grocery trip through an app to pick up curbside, or made-to-measure custom clothing, retailers will be utilizing digital integration to showcase how they meet individual needs. The one-size-fits-all approach will continue to erode as personalization gains appreciation.

Chefs Cooking

Zero Waste
Restaurants are going to continue utilizing parts of animals and plants that usually end up in the trash. Expect more dishes using carrot greens, oxtail, beef cheek, etc. While an all or nothing initiative is probably difficult to implement, brands are actively pursuing ways to reduce the impact on the environment and be more resourceful with products.

Cider Beer

Less Hops
Expect craft beer to continue to spike in popularity but public interest in IPAs has peaked. We’ll probably start seeing more sours, farmhouse, and lighter ales start to creep into popularity. Also look out for more shandy and fruit beers as diners look for healthier alternatives to high ABV, high carb alcohols.

Meghan Coleman

Plant-Forward Retail and Restaurant Design
More and more retailers and restaurants are using nature to blur the lines of indoor and outdoor. People want a sense of harmony (a type of Hygge maybe) between the man-made physical structures and the natural world, and plants help make people feel more comfortable, provide a sense of wellbeing, and create a home-like environment.

Apple Store
Restaurant Dining

I think we’ll start to see more applications similar to the new Apple stores in Chicago, London, and Dubai, and the living walls historically notable at Anthropology. Brands like Planthropy are making this possible by using moss and other greenery on walls instead of materials and graphics to create murals.

Aside from aesthetics, according to research, “the benefits of biophilia in retail spaces are well established. Access to daylight increases sales by up to 37 percent. Incorporating greenery and natural elements into a retail spaces makes them feel more inviting, which in turn decreases customer stress levels and increases their dwell time.”

Sarah Hardy

A Renewed Retail Service
We’re finally beginning to see retailers amplify the service element and enhance the in-store experience with things you can’t do online. From product support to relevant add-ons this shows potential to take brand love and loyalty to a whole other level.

This movement was brought to light this year when Cara and I worked with the OSU Retail Studio to explore what a retail model might look like with this added service component. Eighteen students were challenged to create a brick-and-mortar experience for an online generous brand retailer. While student projects allowed them to push the limits and creatively compose a new kind of experience for the brand, it also challenged us to think about the way we might translate products into a space or use the service component to better tell a story about said product.

DSW W Nail Bar
DSW W Nail Bar

Recently I also visited the DSW Polaris location where they were finishing up the design and implementation to not only a shoe repair area, but also a nail salon. Genius! Partnering with another Columbus based brand, the W Nail Bar, they hoped to tap into the same style savvy consumer and also support the treat yo’self mentality of buying a new pair of shoes.

Cara Ambrosino

A Social Strategy for Consumer Connection
We’re seeing a big push for connection these days to balance out our digitally dependent lives. Brand loyalty is certainly a buzzword we hear all the time, but who’s actually achieving it? Which brands are able to tap into consumers’ emotional sides to create that special connection?

I believe 2018 will hold more opportunity for brands to connect with consumers’ values, and in-turn, achieve brand loyalty. The one-for-one retail model, seemingly originated by TOMS, still shows no sign of slowing with continued profitable success. It’s basically a stroke of genius. By giving consumers the opportunity to give back while shopping, they’re simultaneously eliminating the feeling of buyers remorse, while increasing the size of the basket, or online cart. A few retailers to note:

Pendelton National Parks Collection

A classic brand with lots of equity in both home décor and outdoor market, Pendleton’s National Parks Collection donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale towards specific park projects.


Providing the option to shop a socially conscious family of brands while supporting local craftspeople, Nisola sends money to build schools in Africa. An appealing near and far approach.

State Bags

Brooklyn based STATE Bags, touts stylish bags for the whole family, but the kicker is they donate a backpack full of school supplies to a child in need with EVERY purchase.

Sackcloth and Ashes

On-trend styles and affordable prices make Sackcloth and Ashes a no brainer, but the brand also donates a blanket to a homeless shelter for every blanket sold.

Annie Foertmeyer

Big, Bold, and Funky Fonts
Leading into 2018 I’m noticing that minimalism is dead. Just kidding, minimalism will never die. But specifically in graphic design, I’m definitely seeing a shift from clean white and all-caps geometric sans to chunky serif fonts. This sets my heart aflutter because I have always adored big fat fonts like Cooper Black and Bookman.

New Chobani Packaging
Chobani Store

A big, recent example of this is the Chobani rebrand. I love everything about it…the logo, the off-white packaging, and the photography style is dripping in 70’s goodness. They’ve managed to make it retro but keep it current with an expressive illustration style that’s fun and folksy, but not too artsy.


This luxe 70’s aesthetic is even creeping its way into minimalism capital, IKEA. With rattan chairs, shag rugs, and velvet throw pillows, these home décor trends are back in a big way. Dark, earthy warmth is big and people are swapping their spotless totally empty sideboards for lots of plants and kitschy knick-knacks (or maybe that one is just me). It may not be a lasting trend, but I’m so excited to see things get bigger, bolder, and funkier in 2018. Look to see it in new brand expressions and consumer goods, especially in home décor and fashion, and hopefully we’ll get a few more delicious rebrands like Chobani’s.

Caroline Moore

Integrating Tech in the Restaurant Experience
With most consumers being tech-savy these days people are used to shopping through mobile apps and websites. Many big name restaurant brands, like Wendy’s and Panera, are starting to use kiosks for ordering, but I think we’ll see shift towards integrated technology, such as mobile apps.

Wendys Kiosks
Wendy's Mobile App

Kiosks offer customers more customization options, and in a recent study 49% of diners think ordering at a kiosk improves their experience. The same study shows both restaurant-goers and restaurateurs think technology improves the dining experience and efficiency. Increased interaction with the brand through mobile apps and kiosks also creates customer loyalty.

Photo Credit: MetropolisMag | Fashionista | Blank Label | TomsFeast | The Metropreneur | Pendleton | State Bags | IKEA | Nisolo | Adweek | Under Consideration


A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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