BEIJING/SHANGHAI: It is only two years since Alibaba founder Jack Ma coined the term ‘New Retail’ to describe a future in which online, offline and logistics would merge to create a new retailing environment, and a number of leading global brands have already gained an edge in China by embracing the trend.

That is according to a comprehensive new report from Bain & Company, the international management consultancy, into the opportunities offered by New Retail as well as its challenges.

Authored by Bain partners Jason Ding, Bruno Lannes and Larry Zhu, the report states that New Retail has now created “an imperative” for brands, which must build new consumer-centric models while also creating operations that are more efficient.

“As the old business-to-consumer model evolves from the simple goal of meeting mass demand to a world of consumer-data-inspired personalised products and delivery, the best brands are determining how to integrate products into the overall customer experience,” they write.

In addition, many stores [in China] have grown from online-only or offline-only into a seamless omnichannel consumer experience that is fully integrated.

That enables consumers to shop while also enjoying content or spending time on social networks, as well as in physical stores or on e-commerce platforms.

According to the report, a number of Western brands – including Mondelez and Estée Lauder – are “leading the charge to shape tomorrow’s retailing”.

Confectionary giant Mondelez, for example, made good use of customisation in an initiative aimed at boosting sales of Oreos among teenagers, while also strengthening the brand’s emotional appeal to consumers of all ages and driving traffic to its Tmall store.

Coinciding with Tmall’s Super Brand Day 2017, the company launched a ‘music box’, a turntable device which played tunes when an Oreo biscuit was placed on it.

Customers could change the pre-recorded music simply by taking a bite from the Oreo and placing it back on the music box. They also could record their own voices and decorate the device, customising it by scanning a QR code.

The Bain report described the campaign as a “New Retail success story”, noting that the “singing biscuits” generated 80 times more sales on Mondelez’s site than average, with 90% of purchases coming from new customers.

Meanwhile, cosmetics brand Estée Lauder recently launched a campaign in which it blended ads with content to reach targeted potential consumers across multiple channels.

Its precise consumer profiling enabled it to connect with more than 10m targeted consumers in six days and attract more than 100,000 new followers, the report explained.

Estée Lauder then interacted with those consumers through diversified media, using each interaction as an opportunity to trace consumer behaviour, enabling the company to reach more than 500,000 fans in a two-week period.

Sourced from Bain & Company; additional reporting by WARC staff