Coresight Research Sees a More Inclusive Retail Market

Is retail more inclusive today? According to the latest report by Coresight Research, inclusive categories “are gaining traction across the retail industry” while accelerating efforts on the inclusivity front “impacts corporate structures and policies, brand representation on shelves, suppliers, product categories and the content that companies and brands are posting on social media.”

Deborah Weinswig, chief executive officer and founder of Coresight Research, said in the report, titled, “Inclusivity in Retail: Trends From 2021, Learnings for 2022,” that adaptive retail products for persons with disabilities “moved beyond apparel and footwear. Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Unilever launched products in technology, beauty and personal care.” She noted that gender-free merchandise also expanded across various categories and retail sectors and said this “emerging category doubled in major launches since June 2021 and two specialty retailers opened gender-free stores, Gilly Hicks for teens and PacSun for kids.”

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Other developments include a plus-size market that continues to expand “with product line size extensions, category launches and designer collaborations,” Weinswig said, adding that retailers also included “more diverse brands and suppliers, which we expect will contribute to an increase in spending on inclusive categories as brands gain a foothold.”

There have been stepped-up efforts to embed diversity and inclusivity into retail organizations and their strategic goals. “We believe this integration has helped retailers to be more innovative and has given inclusivity more traction across retail categories, sectors and operations,” Weinswig explained. “We are seeing innovations in design, packaging and sizing — all of which helped to expand inclusive categories into new product lines. Many brands and retailers have made commitments to incorporate more diverse brands and suppliers as a building block to growing inclusive categories.”

Weinswig said she expects inclusive retail will continue to grow this year on 2021’s “foundational initiatives.”

In the report, which included Erin Schmidt, senior analyst at the firm, as a contributor, inclusivity was described as influencing and affecting long-term change in the retail market, “driving billion-dollar growth in multiple product categories, including adaptive apparel, gender-free designs, extended sizes, and beauty for all ages, races and genders.”

“Inclusive products and corporate practices are no longer a secondary consideration but a necessity for retailers and brands to be competitive,” the authors of the report stated. “Inclusive categories are expanding, which shows that the industry is beginning to listen to the consumer. By understanding recent trends and establishing inclusive practices and strategies, brands and retailers can capitalize on the momentum in the inclusivity space and improve brand reputation among consumers.”

Increasing inclusivity is now a priority for brands and retailers. - Credit: Courtesy image.
Increasing inclusivity is now a priority for brands and retailers. - Credit: Courtesy image.

Courtesy image.

Weinswig said adaptive retail is moving beyond footwear and apparel and will continue to grow. She estimates that spending in the adaptive market totaled $1.3 billion in 2021, “but that the total potential addressable market was worth $64.3 billion.”

The report noted that in December 2021, P&G Beauty prototyped an easy-open winged lid with Braille text and a high contrast product label for the Olay line. “In the spirit of inclusivity and open accessibility, [P&G Beauty] is sharing its design with other beauty manufacturers,” Weinswig said.

She also said that in the first half of last year, “there were six gender-free launches from major brands and retailers spanning accessories, apparel, footwear, cosmetics and jewelry.” These included gender-free footwear from Monsieur L, a gender-free kids store from PacSun, and “technically fitted underwear and sleepwear from Cosabella.”

“In 2021, five major retailers — J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target and Ulta Beauty — invested in diverse beauty through strategic priorities, Black-owned brand growth plans, and incubator programs,” the report stated. “The retailers have added more than 95 Black-owned brands across their portfolios, with solutions spanning skin care, hair care, color cosmetics and fragrance. They have also pledged to continue their commitment to inclusive beauty beyond 2021.”

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