Event recap

Columbus Chamber of Commerce Retail Summit

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce Retail Summit virtually brought together experts from Design Central, The Clorox Company and The Ohio State University to discuss the evolution of the consumer. The group considered issues around designers’ role in society, how organizations design for 'people,' sustainability and more.

Here are the takeaways:

Designers have the power to create healing experiences, and a responsibility to be aware of the impact their work has, not only on people but on the planet. Young designers may begin their careers with aspirations to create artistically, but maturity and professional experience often bring the realization of the weight their role has in building the future. Healing experiences happen when designers act as a conduit between the consumers and manufacturers to give stakeholders a voice. And when clients trust design partners to push beyond what the client wants to discover what the consumer needs, positive, healing futures can be built for everyone.

Sustainability is no longer merely an option, and changing the consumer mindset to see recycling as a crucial activity is possible with design. We know that pollution disproportionately affects marginalized communities, and without ecological justice, there can be no social justice. Plans of action based on this premise are already in process. For instance, companies are looking at the entire lifecycle of products to create branded themes built around sustainable philosophies, with new manufacturing practices, sourcing techniques, distribution methods, ingredients and end-user disposal. Agencies like Design Central look at sustainability through the eyes of the consumer, because everything depends on consumer buy-in. We consider consumers' willingness to recycle as well as the impact local policies have on behavior. We look at how we can re-use, eliminate materials or use packaging to educate consumers on sustainability.

Shelter-in-place orders are forcing us, as consumers, to reevaluate our value systems and behaviors, which could positively impact design and user experience for the betterIndividuals are considering how they spend their time and money, asking with each purchase, "Do I need this?" Many are now considering the "extras" wasteful, with some turning to the re-use and refill philosophy, opening the opportunity for new sustainably designed products and packaging. Shops are re-opening. Retailers are working hard to provide safe in-store experiences. As we enter stores with expectations of a shift toward cleaner, simpler experiences, this too makes us more attentive to the way we live, and makes us ask ourselves, "What kind of lifestyle do we want to return post-Covid-19? How can design pave the way to a 'New Normal' for the future?"

"Designers have a responsibility." ~ Cory Fites, The Clorox Company
"We are the thread to allow consumers’ voices to be heard." ~ Cori Rowley, Design Central
"Design is our superpower." ~ Monica Tournoux, Design Central

Watch the panel discussion here:
Replay Link: https://event.webinarjam.com/login/k6ny8i97fy5sp3s1s2
Password: RETAIL2020

For more on our insight into these topics contact Tim Friar: t.friar@designcentral.com