The latest study released by Interbrand heralds the importance of multi-sensory experiences in building brand value, especially as we see dramatic shifts to all things digital. As marketing budgets shift in the direction of digital media, we have to be careful to not abandon the retail store and it’s role in the consumer’s experience of the brand. The store allows us to use all of our senses and oftentimes picks up where technology leaves off.
Shopping is no longer undertaken on a need basis. We shop for the experience, to examine trends, and see other consumers’ purchasing behavior. With growing emphasis being placed on ecommerce, it is important for retailers to not shift attention away from brick and mortar, but to use it in a complementary fashion. Brands have to perpetually move beyond the relevant and expected, to develop more emotion and dimension within their brands for fresh connections with consumers.
Check out some of the brands who use their retail environments to tap into all of our senses and turn browsing consumers into brand loyalists:
Sabon: This apothecary-style french soap company is all about customer experience. The focal point of the store is a a rustic sink, at which consumers have the opportunity to try to all of the products, marvel at how wonderful their skin feels, and delight in the delectable french fragrances. After an experience like the one you’ll enjoy at Sabon, you can be sure consumers won’t hesitate to switch from the standard Ivory variety.
Abercrombie & Fitch: Abercrombie does a tremendous job of making consumers feel a part of the brand. From the models that greet you at the door, to the palpably cool decor to the cologne wafting through the air, Abercrombie makes certain to hit all the senses and leave you wanting more. How else did they become the only store on 5th avenue to have a permanent line wrapping around the block?!
Coldstone Creamery: Not only does this place smell like heaven, but consumers get to metaphorically eat with their eyes as they watch employees put together their custom made desserts right in front of them. Guests become part of the process as specially trained employees delicately fold the specialized toppings into these divine desserts. Topping off the brand experience is a musical number or two, especially if it’s your birthday.
FAO Schwartz: Who could forget the scene from the move Big when Tom Hanks plays a giant piano with his feet at the Mecca of toy stores. FAO Schwartz has built a name for itself by offering an interactive brand experience that is so awe-inspiring, adults and children alike revel in this bastion of youthful dreams. From the naughty dessert options, to the life-sized giraffes and apes, this is a place where you can truly let loose and get lost in your inner child.
Lego: Marketing genius, Martin Lindstrom, saw Lego as marketing gold when he tried to recreate his own Legoland at the age of 8. Lego is an iconic brand and to this day, despite the strong shift to interactive media like video games, Lego still reigns supreme. The reason? A top ranking objective of the Lego store is to get consumers to create something ownable and unique and take it home with them. This interactive experience reinforces the ideology, that with Legos you can build and customize anything you could ever imagine. The customized take-aways, such as the “build your own brick” is a perpetual reminder that all dreams can come true…and they start with a single Lego.
When consumers shop as much for the experience as they do for particular items, make sure you aren’t missing out on valuable mindshare by offering a lackluster branded experience. Consumers need to be woven into the brand experience for them to commit you to their memories and eventually their hearts. From the scents, to the store design, to interactive experiences that make you take a little part of the brand home with you (whether it’s physically or mentally) they all ensure an indelible (positive!) mark is left on consumers. Stores have an unrivaled opportunity to make a brand story shine, so own it, work it and definitely don’t waste it.