A lineup of colorful boom boxes
Alexis Vera
Executive Creative Director

Humanizing the Retail Experience

Experiential Shopping Lives Offline

We can all remember a time in our not so distant past when we purchased something unexpected online and thought to ourselves, “retail as we know it is dead, I can get anything I want sent to my home, at any time!” For me that moment was the first time I purchased groceries online. It was 2001, and I was terrified that I was completely wasting my money on mealy apples, bruised tomatoes, and second-rate chicken breast. To my surprise, the produce was fresh, the meat was fantastic, and the delivery guy even stocked my fridge! Why would I ever go to a grocery store again…right? Well, it’s now 15 years later, and I’m back to buying my groceries at my local store. The convenience and access to product that online retailing made available hasn’t gone away, as a matter of fact it’s better and stronger than ever, so what has happened to brick and mortar retail as a result? The fact is the emergence of online retail gave traditional brick and mortar retail a huge gift, the gift of experience.

The Souvenir Concept

“Purchase decisions in today’s marketplace are a souvenir for a great experience had.” This golden nugget borrowed from Retail (r)Evolution’s David Kepron has never been more true. In a world where products and services are ubiquitously available, we buy where we’re given the best experience. There are things we all buy online, through Groupon, Amazon, etc. But take notice, they tend to be objects in our lives that aren’t amplified by interaction or experience. Physical retail has assumed a more interesting place in the consumers’ lives, it’s the place to explore, to be romanced, or be entertained. Physical retail is where smart brands are making authentic connections with their consumers, simply because pragmatic shopping cannot be found on a website.

Socially Connected, but Analog

This emphasis on experiential shopping is augmenting another interesting phenomenon that speaks directly to millennial culture and behaviors brought on by the internet age. Though millennials live inherently digital lives, with one full day out of every week spent on-line (ComScore), they are conversely a socially driven generation[1]. Shopping is now more socially connected than ever, although it requires no app, service, or login. Retail experiences that attract and convert consumers are innately inclusive, they tell stories, and they invite interaction. That’s why even 81% of millennials dollars are still spent in stores, not on-line (NPD Group). These are the days of sharing, group think, and herd mentalities… who knew the mall-rats had it right all along? Physical retail is one of the few places where a consumer can connect socially, but not through a device.

Footnotes

  1. ^ “Succeeding with Millennials at Retail”, Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc., retrieved 9 May, 2016 from http://www.designretailonline.com.

Enriching and Authentic

Rainforest Cafe… the world is on to you. It’s simply not enough to create a story for story’s sake and expect consumers to buy in. Pragmatic shopping captures real moments, they’re authentic, and they’re enriching! The right brand engagement strategy finds that core of a soul that makes them relevant and deliver it vulnerably to the world. Create encounters that allow consumers to pull information from the brand rather than having it pushed to them, encounters that tell a story in a uniquely own-able voice, and not just the story consumer research tells us shoppers want to hear. This is one reason why the center of the grocery store is in decline, why big box retail is scrambling to find a voice, and why strong, growing brands own more and more of the space in multi-category retail settings. Cost per square foot thinking doesn’t yield the story consumers come to retail to hear… Give your consumers a piece of your story in bold, open, inviting terms, and they’ll reward you with their loyalty.

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