It’s not the demise of retail, it’s the rise of experiential

You’re on a mission to buy a pair of jeans. Chances are you’ll either browse online and pick a shortlist, or nip out on your lunch break to your preferred retailer and purchase the first thing that fits. In that moment, research shows, you’re less likely to be enticed to spend the next hour browsing the aisles contemplating a complimentary top or jacket – because that wasn’t the purpose of your trip.

In our fast and furious world of I want it all and I want it now, retailers need to go above and beyond to keep consumers in store. With footfalls across shopping centres waning, mixed-use redevelopments are transforming the traditional retail sector.

Combining the traditional retail offer with leisure options is a proven success. Consumers can shop and spend, but also extend their trip into a day out with the addition of food and drink outlets, cinemas and gyms. Even crazy golf, laser tag and other activities are now making regular appearances across the UK’s most popular destinations.

But what about the pop-up trend?

We all know the explosion that is the pop-up ‘street food market’, with F&B destinations such as Trinity Kitchen, Leeds, and Pergola on the Roof, London, springing up as a result. 44% of us have visited a pop-up retail store in the last year, confirming our ever-increasing interest in fast-moving transformational variety of retail space as well. Pop-up events and activation activities are a proven method to pull in the crowds, with regulars more likely to increase their dwell time, and infrequent visitors inclined to make a dedicated trip to see what’s going on. A recent events programme that we organised for our Dukes Lane project increased footfall by 31.2% year-on-year.

Creating a retail experience

Recent reports show that 80% of UK shoppers make their retail purchases online, so it’s more important than ever to create an experience that can’t be replicated digitally (unless we’re talking bringing VR and AI to shopping districts, a different discussion entirely).

It’s no secret that retailers now need to work harder to create an unparalleled experience – a trend that extends far further than the high street store. London Fashion Week 2018 saw Anya Hindmarch create a huge, fully immersive cloud installation inside London’s Banqueting House. Hindmarch explained: ‘Inspired by our Chubby Collection, the world’s biggest beanbag will, quite literally, immerse people in our brand whilst listening to and experiencing things that we love.’ Hindmarch, one of the designer brands of our time, is now focussing efforts on the experience of the brand, rather than the commodity of her handbags. And it works. Where once her brave and uniquely designed accessories would have grabbed the column inches, it is the meditation sessions, BBC shipping broadcasts and even bedtime talks that have dominated headlines during her LFW2018.

As marketers and place activators, it is our job to think one stride ahead. What’s the next stage of the retail evolution… And how can we lead it? From blending digital experiences right through to offering authentic, community-building campaigns, we’re ready to share our latest ideas and innovations.

Get in touch to discuss place marketing with our expert team.