The Modern Retail Awards are honoring the retailers that powered through the changes and uncertainty brought about in 2021, while finding ways to address social injustice through marketing campaigns, pivot to reflect shifting consumer habits and more.
Some of this year’s finalists moved from legacy retail strategies to omnichannel, while others focused on utilizing personalization to identify consumer needs. Among the through-lines in this year’s shortlist was a renewed focus on personalization. Innovative approaches to audiences also marked the judges’ favorites. As advertisers’ focus shifts toward first-party data and delivering exceptional customer experiences, retailers are getting more creative with their offerings. In a year where travel was mostly stifled, for example, retailers came up with campaigns to ignite the excitement that planning a trip brings while consumers were still on their couches.
The Best Personalization Strategy brings two impactful finalists. The first is IKEA, with Wavemaker, Ogilvy, Jebbit and Pinterest. During a time where most were unable to travel, wanderlust grew, especially on Pinterest. ‘IKEA Renocations’ was created to help inspire consumers and bring the feeling from destinations into the home. Their immersive quiz experience brought shoppers deeper into home furnishing inspiration and increased awareness that IKEA is a brand that supports and enables shoppers by sharing their expertise in life at home.
Google, Next and iProspect teamed up for the launch of Next’s on-site advertising, landing them a finalist spot in the Best Personalization Strategy category to boot. Next wanted to provide a personalized shopping experience for their digital customers by displaying relevant merchandising messaging and having a differentiated avenue of engagement with their suppliers. Their on-site advertising decision engine selects the brands and products most suitable for each customer so that each time they are on Next’s site they receive relevant, dynamic and customized creatives.
In the category of Best Digital Transformation, Burton Snowboards earned a spot among the finalists for a program that overhauled and revitalized their retail business, transforming its DTC strategy. The company adopted a complete omnichannel strategy to deliver personalized brand experiences globally, offer mobile checkout, endless aisle and more. With a goal of unifying its physical and digital channels to provide a real-time view of inventory across retail locations and distribution centers, the program resulted in better customer experiences and more efficient order fulfillment processes.
More highlights of finalist entries include Sephora, which in partnership with Devries Global and RG/A, is a finalist for Best Product, Category or Sub-Brand Launch with its Black-Owned Beauty campaign. The retailer stepped up as an industry-leading champion of DE&I with its numerous initiatives aiming to make Sephora a place where everyone feels they belong. The Black-Owned Beauty campaign was designed to drive systemic change in the beauty and retail industries, driving awareness for Black beauty’s cultural impact.
All in all, 2021 demanded retailers pivot and continue to focus on hyper-personalization and strategies that drove the customer experience. Finalists such as IKEA, Next, Burton and Sephora rose to the occasion along with many others.
See the full list of finalists below.
Best Use of Technology
Bollé, M7 Innovations, and QReal
Clove and Attentive
Selfly Store by Stora Enso
Too Faced and Snapchat
Next, iProspect & Google – Launch of Next On Site Advertising
Best Product, Category or Sub-Brand Launch Campaign
Franki by Francesca’s
Sephora, Devries Global, RG/A, EventsAir – Black-Owned Beauty
Hims – Launch of the Blur Stick
Cuyana – Launch of System Tote
Best Retailer/Agency Collaboration
Belardi Wong and Backcountry
Brand3P and MGA Entertainment – L.O.L. Surprise! Celebration Store on Amazon
Linnworks and Turtle Wax
Nuts.com and Marketing Architects – Magic of Freshness
January Digital and David’s Bridal
Nothing Bundt Cakes and Ansira