Experiential is the Future for Retailers

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Brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to compete for consumer attention. One trick up their sleeve that has started to gain traction is Experiential Marketing. Here are some great examples of the trend in action.

Benefits of Experiential Retail

Experiential retail marketing helps foster a deeper retailer/consumer connection and can encourage shoppers to buy into a brand lifestyle. Other benefits include:

• Word of mouth marketing

• Access to user-generated content

• Increased in-store traffic

• More customer data

Entertaining Experiences

At the far end of the experiential marketing or merchandising spectrum, you’ll find examples of “retailtainment.” For instance, last Christmas season a Google pop-up store invited visitors into a giant snow globe to take a selfie with the new Pixel smartphone.

Doll retailer American Girl launched an experiential pop-up in New York City where girls could book hairstyling appointments for their mini doppelgänger.

55 percent of the 400 retail executives surveyed for PSFK’s “Future of Retail 2018” report will spend part of their marketing budgets on in-store experiences by 2020. In-store experiences was second to investing in data collection and tracking (68 percent).

In the UK, Topshop launched its summer season with a water slide at its flagship store augmented by virtual reality taking customers on a digital rollercoaster.

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Inviting Experiences

Experiential marketing can also focus on making the retailer more welcoming overall.

Clothing retailer French Connection, for instance, partnered with BRWD Coffee to open a coffee shop above its Oxford Street location. The shop, which BRWD described as a “beautiful, sleek space for us that invites you to hang out and take a break from shopping or work,” also helps encourage positive experiences for the clothing retailer’s guests.

Target partnered with Life Time Fitness to develop a group fitness class challenging nine core areas of the body in just 39 minutes. While all the emphasis on the 9? The effort brought attention to the C9 by Champion athletic apparel brand exclusively available in Target stores.

IKEA welcomed 100 Facebook contest winners to its warehouse in Essex, England, for a massive sleepover. This one-off experience provided massages, let guests select the mattress, sheets and pillows they would sleep on (with a sleep expert on hand with tips).

On a more ongoing basis, the House of Vans in London is another example of memorable experiential retail. Inviting guests to both shop and socialize, its 30,000 square foot building has an actual skate course on the bottom floor with a concrete ramp, mini ramp and street course. Walk-ins are encouraged for the free park which offers specific sessions for BMX riders and skaters.

While exclusive discounts topped the list of purchase drivers in physical stores at 64%, a Walker Sands survey found personalized and unique experiences mattered too. Food and beverage offerings (30%), live product demonstrations (18%) and special events (17%) joined more personalized shopping experience (18%) in the top five.

Nordstrom has also experimented with upgrading its shopping experience. One of its California stores open with spacious “girlfriend dressing rooms” where female shoppers could try on clothes together. Outside the changing room, the patient partners could lounge on The Apartment’s comfy couch in front of a flat-screen television.

“If people are going to get into their car and drive to a shopping center, you have to give them the best you can give them” Bob Middlemas, Nordstrom’s Southern California regional manager and executive vice president told Daily Breeze. “It’s more than bringing people to the (shopping) center to buy clothes, shoes and accessories. It has to be a total experience.”

Experiential marketing has no rules. Think first of your buyer’s need and brand message, but this is an arena where you can be creative. Have fun with it, and your customers are more likely to do the same.

About Jeff
Email me at jeff@themeadecompany.com if you have any questions or would like to learn more about how I help marketing agencies earn status, attract new customers and grow their business. You can connect with me on Linkedin.

Agency Advisor :: I help marketing agencies scale their business.

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