5 MULO Retail & Food Brands Who Are Trend-Spotting and Innovating Street Fight

5 MULO Retail & Food Brands Who Are Trend-Spotting and Innovating

Share this:

The most successful MULO (multi-location) retail and food brands are often those that know their core customers and are continuously innovating to meet their needs.

However, the winners usually stay on top of (and ahead of) consumer trends and develop products, offers, and services that meet the needs of new segments without losing brand fans. 

Some recent examples of retailers and food brands who are innovating to meet the needs of today’s shoppers are:

  1. About 2M people are expected to get married this year. Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) has joined other fashion retailers with a wedding apparel line. Traditional wedding brands like David’s Bridal have been struggling. But that doesn’t mean that nuptials are no more. Today’s brides, grooms, and wedding parties still seek well-priced and easily accessible finery. A&F simply extends its brand to appeal to new generations of the betrothed and those who celebrate them. And what happens when that happy couple settles down post-honeymoon? Many retailers are investing in products for kids, pets, and home. Wayfair recently announced its first brick-and-mortar store.
  2. Also, in the apparel space, REI released its first non-gendered apparel collection for adults. According to a company announcement,  “REI’s team took an inclusive approach from the earliest stages of the design process and incorporated input from a diverse range of people with different bodies, identities, and perspectives. The result is a collection catering to customers who identify beyond the gender binary and those who prefer to shop for non-gendered products.” About 3 percent of consumers worldwide identify as non-binary, but the sheer number is still massive, and sales opportunities extend beyond that.
  3. Walmart recently topped the list of most innovative retailers. In addition to technology innovations, they have become known for collaborative deals with other brands.
  4. Consumers may be hungry after all that retail action, enter the food brands.  The Habit Burger Grill  launched a variation on “kids’ meals” called the “Grown Up Meal.” Appealing to diners’ sense of both thrift and play, the $6 all-in option even comes with a treat.
  5. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, people are actually willing to pay up to $62 for a star-inspired smoothie (with a charity tie-in) at Erewhon.

Keys to successfully innovating include:

  • Use data to understand where consumers are and where they may go regarding purchase decisions and lifestyles. AI will make this easier and faster.
  • Attend industry conferences — both inside and outside your category.
  • Act quickly, but do not jump mindlessly into every trend. Management needs to distinguish between “stunts” and long-term investments.
  • Invest in marketing, PR, and effective in-store and on-site merchandising to ensure that your innovations are known to your customers and prospects.
  • Be patient when reading consumer data, but check your egos at the door if your bright new idea seems to be failing.
  • Above all, know who your loyal shoppers/diners are and solicit their input and feedback as you innovate.

In with the new, but respect what got you to where you are today!


Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in Inc.com, the New York Times and Forbes.
Previous Post

Freshpet Sells Food with a Side of CRM

Next Post

The MULO Dozen: May Brands in Review