We’ve all heard about the death of retail. Malls have turned into ghost-towns as iconic department stores are slowly withering away. This year alone, almost 4,500 U.S. store closures have been announced, while only about half that have opened. Analysts attribute retail’s downfall to a number of factors: the effects of the Great Recession, technology (mobile and the rise in e-commerce), increased competition from Amazon, and a shift in consumer spending habits - primarily, investing in experiences over goods.
Retailers have come to terms with the fact that consumers don’t just want to buy something, they want to do something. While Apple was the first to recognize this, today’s most successful retail brands are creating digitally integrated experiential destinations, not just places to spend money. Sephora, Lululemon, Nordstrom, and Bass Pro Shops are all thriving thanks to their innovative retail strategies that allow consumers to get up close and personal with the brand in an immersive environment, letting consumers discover why - and how - the brand is relevant to their lives, and then replicating the experience across all touchpoints and channels.
While each brand is executing its own unique strategy, there are common threads woven throughout. Successful retail brands:
Immerse the consumer in the brand experience at every touchpoint and every platform.
Whether it’s at a retail store or on Instagram, successful brands offer deeply immersive, highly curated brand experiences.
Connect with consumers through their passions.
Discover what your customer cares about - beauty, food, music, or the great outdoors - and put those interests at the center of the experience.
Make it easy to learn, shop, try, and buy.
Today’s retail experience isn’t transactional; it’s about discovery and play. Give consumers the opportunity to touch and try products in a retail environment that creates a two-way conversation between brand ambassadors and consumers, making sure that it extends seamlessly across digital platforms.
Partner with like-minded brands.
Yes, two brands can actually be better than one. While some markers may be concerned about losing share of voice, they shouldn’t be; partnering with a like-minded brand can build exponential awareness among consumers with a similar mindset. For example, we recently worked with Castello, the international gourmet cheese brand, to grow awareness about its products in the U.S. To do so, we partnered with Dogfish Head brewery on a multi-city tour, with stops at New York and Atlanta food festivals, to create an unexpected biergarten experience that paired Castello’s fine cheese with Dogfish Head’s craft ale. Foodies were delighted by the unique pairing of beer and cheese, with both brands receiving accolades from consumers and the likes of Event Marketer!
Create an inclusive, not exclusive, community around your brand.
Think beyond loyalty programs to build communities through in-store events, pop-ups, online forums, and social media. There’s no better way to establish loyalty than to invite consumers to become a part of your brand. Further, those consumers become your most trustworthy, authentic, and engaging brand advocates.
Retail isn’t dead, it’s just coming alive! Brands with engaging experiential strategies that offer consumers the opportunity to discover new products, explore their passions, and connect with like-minded people at every touchpoint and platform are setting the tone for the new retail experience. Contact us today to learn how the consumer experience experts at Inspira Marketing can help your brand create a unique, immersive experience for your brand.
Source: Coresight Research 2018 Store Closings