Brands get real about retail

There is, without doubt, an increasing focus on customer experience in the retail space. On a global scale, retail brands are jumping on this with in-store experience rapidly evolving, particularly through their flagship stores. The concept of a ‘brandship’ store is now focused more on building brand identity than on product sales.

Given the pressures being exerted on the high street by online retailing, this might just be the means by which established brands can retain relevance in an increasingly digital marketplace.

Previously brands would plan a separate launch or experiential activity outside of the retail space, new or otherwise but without real connection to the instore experience. This is just too disjointed to make sense to the modern consumer. Brands should instead by be utilising and investing in, their physical retail space – the offline home of their brand –as a destination point for customers and a major touchpoint to drive brand engagement.

Pop-up and momentary experiential activity is a big investment with a short window for engagement and impact. Through experience stores, ROI is higher given the longevity of brand to consumer connection. Scheduling of events can allow brands to dial up and down experiential activity with the brand ‘home’ in line with key commercial milestones. Such events can range from personalised experiences to social seminars, allowing the brand to engage with a range of different audiences through various passion points. Some major brands are investing in this way, including Microsoft who plan to open a cutting-edge brandship in 2019, which will combine art, design and tech in delivering pioneering brand and product experiences. Watch this space…

With millennials spending less money on physical items, consumer demand is shifting towards memorable experiences. Brands are adapting to this demand by turning to experiential marketing to create unique experiences that emotionally connect with consumers and build long-term brand engagement. Brandship stores are key for luxury brands as “people want a complete immersion in the lifestyle the brand is offering.” (George Gottl, CEO UXUS). A perfect example of being, Tiffany & Co’s Style Studio brought its iconic blue boxes to Covent Garden with a contemporary space instilling interaction, personalisation and performance. Featuring a personalised bar #MakeItTiffany offering self-styling along with a fragrance vending machine.

It’s key to drive innovation through tech in this environment inspired by the brand values. Sephora have partnered with Google Home to deliver a dream vanity experience to deliver personalised interaction between the user and the product in the way they wish to create their own look. Hence, demonstrating retail experiential along with personalisation through this shopping experience is becoming more essential in cutting through the competitive retail industry.

They even say, by next year products could be removed from shelves leaving only experience at the heart of the retail store.

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