We Brits need the high street. It’s good for our economy; it’s part of our heritage; it’s how we’ve spent many a carefree weekend afternoon and it’s the first channel we ever had to experience a brand in.
But during the downturn how do you get your consumer out of home and into store? What are you going to offer the shopper that they can’t get online? What’s going to make them buy now and come back to buy again?
You need a point of differentiation from any other store or purchasing channel. Something for your consumer to associate your brand with. Something positive to get them digging into their pockets to buy your product. You need a real and intelligent brand experience.
You can look at the high street or towards supermarkets and the trend is the same. As Mintel states ‘Successful retailers have to excel both in-store and on-line and the two need to be fully integrated.’
It will be even more important for stores to have a sense of theatre and excitement’. Premium department store Selfridges have long been known for owing ‘in store theatre’ as a key driver in their success and continued growth.
So the brands that’ll be bringing in the shoppers are those seeking to offer truly immersive brand experiences.
Hence it’s not that an in store experience will divert your consumers offline and have them all running for your doors at 9am – consumers want best of both so you must be multi-channel lingual. What a live brand experience will facilitate is a full 360 brand experience that gives your consumer flexibility to operate within the channel that suits them best at the time they choose. It could be the scan of a QR code in a window display or at Heathrow to pre-order your post holiday milk (both Tesco who triumphs convenience).
Dr Martens engaged their target audience with self branded in store festival #FIRSTANDFOREVER at four major UK stores. This successfully married the raw, authentic and edgy values of Dr Marten with music and gave consumers a memorable experience to associate the brand with. John Lewis by contrast have opted to harness on their consumers love for self creation and unique one off designs by conducting in store sewing and knitting classes.
So it’s important you make sure you take your brand experience to your consumer in the way it best fits into their lives and values. They’ll reward you with positive word of mouth and an increase in willingness to purchase.
A great example using an in store experience to increase sales is Vogue and Topshop’s exclusive A/W ’12 Preview 22nd August. This event offers invite only Topshop consumers a sneak new season preview with Calgary Avansino, Vogue’s Executive Fashion Director at their Knightsbridge store. With Champagnes & canapés, makeovers and manicures, live DJ’s and an exclusive 20% shopping discount, this is absolute bullseye in store experiential for Topshop’s target audience. Take to twitter and you can already see the build up of excitement online.
On a digital platform, look to ebay’s pop up shop showing that no channel should be used exclusively. Amazon are rumored to be considering a similar live outlet also. This indicates that even online retailers are coming to terms with their shortcomings as they realize that further success will depend on being able to introduce and element of experience and excitement into what is, at the moment, a somewhat clinical retail proposition.
With brand loyalty not being what it was, loyalty has to be earned each season, brands must make sure they continually revise and update their brand experiences. Be intelligent and forward thinking. The experience can be inclusive or exclusive, just make sure it’s going to engage your target audience.
If you’re looking at planning a live brand experience remember to ask yourself who am I trying to connect with, where can I add value to their daily lives, how will they respond and how will this be fully integrated.
Here at The Lounge, we’re all about the fully integrated consumer experiences. No channel strategy should be created exclusively of the others. We ensure our experiences live beyond the live.
Your consumers provide our insight. An integrated strategy is what we create. Experiential is what do. An immersive brand experience is what we deliver.