Re­tail ther­apy and a jour­ney of the senses...


Ioften won­der how and why the term re­tail ther­apy came into be­ing. A lit­tle trivia dig­ging re­vealed that re­tail ther­apy was first used as a term in the 1980s with the first ref­er­ence be­ing made in the Chicago Tri­bune’s 1986 Christ­mas Eve edi­tion. To quote it, "We've be­come a na­tion mea­sur­ing out our lives in shop­ping bags and nurs­ing our psy­chic ills through re­tail ther­apy." How very apt! Fur­ther read­ing up threw up some in­ter­est­ing facts as well. Ap­par­ently in 2001, the Euro­pean Union con­ducted a study in which 33% of shop­pers sur­veyed had "high level of ad­dic­tion to rash or un­nec­es­sary con­sump­tion".

Well, cut to cur­rent times and the store de­sign sce­nario, of­fer­ing a ther­a­peu­tic ex­pe­ri­ence seems to be at the core of what vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ers and store de­sign­ers pack­age as a store’s in­tan­gi­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This sees them in­dulging in newer and newer ways of in­tox­i­cat­ing all the senses with sales be­ing some­where on the pe­riph­ery of the de­sign ob­jec­tives. The idea be­ing that once a shop­per/cus­tomer spends enough time in the space, the seeds of brand loy­alty are al­ready be­ing sown some­where. This then, by im­pli­ca­tion, would trans­late into a pur­chase de­ci­sion sooner or later. And so, a per­fume store that in­dulges the ol­fac­tory senses, a candy store that of­fers a fan­ta­sy­filled vis­ual ride, a high-end mall that ap­peals to our artis­tic senses...they are all out there in the re­tail realm, promis­ing ther­apy-in­duced con­sump­tion in a sen­sory vis­ual lan­guage. Check out our cov­er­age this month and en­joy a vi­car­i­ous trip to this ther­a­peu­tic re­tail-scape. And while you are at it, don’t miss our wrap-ups of the lat­est win­dows, store de­signs and re­tail strate­gies ei­ther.

Sign­ing off, I would like to quote Imelda Mar­cos, wife of the for­mer Pres­i­dent of Philppine, Fer­di­nand Mar­cos, known for her ex­cesses, “Win, or lose, we go shop­ping af­ter the elec­tion!” How very rel­e­vant for us, liv­ing as we do in one of the most vi­brant and largest democ­ra­cies of the world! Well then, good­bye! Got to go shop­ping and feed my senses about post-elec­tion binge!


N Jay­alak­shmi

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