Trend­ing Phys­i­cally

With a ma­jor­ity of the mil­len­ni­als pre­fer­ring to shop in phys­i­cal stores most of the time, brands are fo­cussing in de­liv­er­ing mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences at their phys­i­cal touch points. De­sign Think­ing trends have re­aligned to en­able the phys­i­cal store to defin

VM&RD - - Contents - Suren­der Gnanao­livu

Tra­di­tion­ally, a brand is de­fined as a ‘mnemonic or an iden­tity of a prod­uct and its ser­vices’. To­day this has been re­de­fined as ‘be­ing es­sen­tially a con­tainer for a cus­tomer’s 360 de­gree ex­pe­ri­ence with the com­pany’s propo­si­tion’. Mul­ti­ple stud­ies on the be­hav­iour of new-age con­nected cus­tomer has re­vealed that more than 90% pur­chases are still made in stores, 98% of Gen Z shop in­store with 67% say­ing that they shop in­store ‘most of the time’, 50% want to buy on­line and pick-up in­store and 38% of Mil­len­ni­als shop once a week in a shop­ping cen­ter. This clearly re­veals the high im­por­tance of the phys­i­cal store in defin­ing what the brand stands for and hence has taken the role of be­ing the ‘Phys­i­cal Brand’. My study of the dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers in global mar­kets on cur­rent Re­tail De­sign Think­ing clearly makes three trends to clearly stand out. Let’s take a look at each of them il­lus­trated through suc­cess­ful en­vi­ron­ment de­sign strate­gies con­cep­tu­al­ized by dif­fer­en­ti­ated global brands.

Hu­man­iza­tion: The trend of ‘Hu­man­iz­ing store de­sign’ is a route taken by many evolved brands glob­ally to con­nect emo­tion­ally with their cus­tomers by demon­strat­ing that their busi­ness pur­poses are more than just be­ing about sell­ing their prod­ucts and ser­vices. The fo­cus is clearly on de­liv­er­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that are mean­ing­ful and mem­o­rable for their cus­tomers. One key route of hu­man­iz­ing a store is the use of ‘Sen­sory Brand­ing’ where the five hu­man senses, Sight, Hear­ing, Touch, Taste and Smell, to de­fine a com­plete brand ex­pe­ri­ence. An im­por­tant point to note is that, the lat­ter three are pos­si­ble only in a phys­i­cal store! Bri­tish brand Lush has re­vi­tal­ized its store con­cept us­ing a pow­er­ful hu­man­ized store de­sign strat­egy of ‘touch, smell and play’ in its largest flag­ship store lo­cated on Ox­ford Street in Lon­don. The store front greets vis­i­tors with an over­sized sink with a beauty con­sul­tant stir­ring up some fra­grant foam us­ing their fa­mous ‘bath bombs’.

The brand’s mis­sion is to rein­vent the bathing ex­pe­ri­ence, reimag­ine clas­sic cos­met­ics and fill the world with per­fume and this has been brought to life in their phys­i­cal brand. The store in­te­ri­ors fea­ture fab­u­lous pre­sen­ta­tion of rain­bow-col­ored soaps, gi­ant bot­tles of shower creams and tubes of bold-hued lip­stick. A mu­sic sta­tion of­fers cu­rated re­lax­ing mu­sic to add to the over­all brand ex­pe­ri­ence. Strate­gi­cally placed invit­ing ta­bles, sa­lon chairs and mid-floor treat­ment sta­tions en­cour­age cus­tomers to phys­i­cally ex­pe­ri­ence the prod­ucts and cre­atively de­fine their phys­i­cal brand with great dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and panache.

So­cial­iza­tion: The trend of ‘So­cial­iz­ing’ comes from the hu­man na­ture of be­ing a so­cial an­i­mal. Brands have re­al­ized that the con­nected cus­tomer tends to be part of like-minded so­cial groups, real or vir­tual, and en­joys shar­ing in­for­ma­tion and in­ter­ests. This is seen to be more mean­ing­ful and cred­i­ble in the phys­i­cal world and store de­sign think­ing has picked this up to add se­ri­ous ef­forts to add el­e­ments of ‘so­cial­iza­tion’ to store en­vi­ron­ments where phys­i­cal brands can be more that sell­ers of prod­ucts. Cana­dian Lu­l­ule­mon’s new flag­ship in Lon­don ex­tends far be­yond the ath­leisure of­fer­ings it sells, to of­fer fit­ness, nu­tri­tion and mind­ful­ness in its store ex­pe­ri­ence. The store en­vi­ron­ment de­sign of­fers an ex­pe­ri­en­tial space where like-minded folks can stretch, sweat, con­nect and en­joy the lat­est col­lec­tions in a space that en­ables them to es­cape from the buzz of the city. The com­mu­nity space “cu­rated to cre­ate a re­laxed at­mos­phere and sense of be­long­ing” pro­vides free classes in yoga, bal­anced health, nu­tri­tion etc. where the lu­l­ule­mon ‘com­mu­nity’ con­gre­gates to share and so­cial­ize. The so­cial­ized store has a huge like-minded fan fol­low­ing that have de­vel­oped a strong bond with this phys­i­cal brand.

Pri­va­ciza­tion: Thanks to the ecom­merce age, the use of per­sonal data and pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics by so­cial me­dia and re­tail­ers has made the need for pri­vacy much big­ger than ever be­fore. This has in­ducted in the store de­sign think­ing the el­e­ment of ‘Pri­va­ciza­tion’ where the phys­i­cal brand en­gages with ut­most sen­si­tiv­ity and re­spect to their cus­tomers’ pri­vacy. In­ter­ac­tive screen used to make per­sonal choices have be­come con­ve­niently smaller and con­ducive to per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion in con­trast to gi­ant screen that al­low a passers-by au­di­ence to see per­sonal choice mak­ing. Prob­a­bly this is the rea­son magic mir­rors and large pub­lic in­ter­ac­tive screens have be­come un­pop­u­lar and are now be­ing used for spe­cial ef­fects fea­tur­ing cu­rated video con­tent to add the­atrics to the phys­i­cal brand en­vi­ron­ment. In­dian ac­quired brand Jaguar Land Rover store demon­strates the suc­cess­ful use of this trend in tis new con­cept stores. A ser­vice ta­ble in the cen­ter of the store en­ables cus­tomer to use an in­tel­li­gent pro­gramme called Rockar to make in­formed fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal de­ci­sions pri­vately when de­cid­ing to buy a car. Swatches and sam­ples of paint fin­ishes and up­hol­stery are dis­played to com­plete the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. Lectern mounted screens help com­mu­ni­cate spec­i­fi­ca­tions of the key mod­els dis­played in the store and large screens fea­ture brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion that pro­mote what the brand stands for -‘putting peo­ple at the heart of ev­ery­thing we do is not a def­i­ni­tion it’s our ob­ses­sion’. Once the cus­tomer de­cides on the model, they are led to the mall park­ing lot to test drive the car.

With th­ese new trends be­ing im­bibed in the de­sign of re­tail en­vi­ron­ments of to­day the suc­cess of the Phys­i­cal Brand is there to stay for the long haul. Though dig­i­ti­za­tion of ser­vices and con­sumer en­gage­ment is on the rise, the use of el­e­ment of the Phys­i­cal brand – Hu­man­iza­tion, So­cial­iza­tion and Pri­va­ciza­tion are be­com­ing a key cri­te­ria for brands to ac­quire and re­tail cus­tomers at their brand touch points.

Ref­er­ences: (yoga pic in­store) | | The Phys­i­cal Brand by Matt Lyon Con­sult­ing

Pic­ture Cred­its: Suren­der Gnanao­livu

Suren­der has an ex­pe­ri­ence of over two decades in the In­dian re­tail in­dus­try in Re­tail Strat­egy, Store De­sign, Plan­ning & De­vel­op­ment, Re­tail Mar­ket­ing, Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing, Roll-out man­age­ment, Re­tail Au­dits, Train­ing, Teach­ing and Writ­ing. His ca­reer en­com­passes hold­ing of se­nior po­si­tions as Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent & Head Mar­ket­ing, Brand Ex­pe­ri­ence, Store De­sign, Plan­ning & De­vel­op­ment at lead­ing re­tail­ers like Shop­pers Stop, Re­liance Re­tail and Mahin­dra Re­tail and also as a se­nior re­tail con­sul­tant work­ing with lead­ing re­tail­ers and brands in In­dia. He is cur­rently a Sr Re­tail Ex­pe­ri­ence Con­sul­tant.

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