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Relationship retail is a rising trend in the beauty industry, as an increasing number of retailers are driving footfall by offering consumers a place to hang out and interact with other shoppers who have similar passions and interests. As well as keeping customers engaged, retailers offer a space where visitors can participate in interactive or educational classes and tutorials.
At the forefront of this social innovation was Apple with the launch of their “Town square” concept; a cross between a retail store and an education centre, and a place where visitors could gather and interact with each other and apple products. Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Retail, Apple Inc., commented that community gathering wasn’t only a space where people would come to shop, it was intended as a place where they could come to be inspired and educated by connecting with others in the community.
The popularity of such a space is gaining increasing traction amongst Generation Z consumers who are actively arranging to meet at Apple locations and then take their discussions away from the offline environment to the online one, such as social media.
Concept’s like this are much more than a spot to hang out; the locations are designed to enable consumers to learn more about the products that are on offer, or to discover new products they would never before have had the inclination to try out. In an age where educated shoppers actively seek out more information than ever before purchasing a product, Apple’s “Town square” gives consumers the perfect space to exchange valuable and empowering information on products with like-minded peers.
Retail platforms and interactive concepts are helping brands to reimagine education-centric experiences that are formatted to enable their audiences and potential customers to inform themselves better. International beauty brand Benefit, embraced the evolution of the educated consumer by teaming up with Lebanese Influencer, Dana Khairallah (@Ivysays) and makeup artist Mirella Kassis to host the IvySaysXBenefit masterclasses. The attendees were able to educate themselves on new techniques and trends and then walk away from the session with all the products that had been used in the tutorials. In January 2018 Galeries Lafayette Dubai launched an interactive pop-up concept known as The Beauty Room where visitors could enjoy make-over sessions, giveaways, beauty consultations, pop-up tutorials, masterclasses and the opportunity to meet popular Lebanese celebrity and beauty icon Maya Diab.
I will be at @galerieslafayettedubai on Thursday, January 11th at 6PM to launch “The Beauty Room” event. The Beauty Room event will start on January 11th and ends on the January 20th. #GLbeautyroom2018 #galerieslafayettedubai #mayadiabfans #mydsf #dsf #mydubai #visitdubai @humanagementme رح كون موجودة في @gallerieslafayettedubai نهار الخميس ١١ يناير، ٢٠١٧ الساعة ٦ المسا لنطلق سوا “The Beauty Room”
Brick and mortar stores provide a space where all five senses can be engaged, in turn creating a social experience through interaction between employees and consumers. Despite all the technological advancements that have taken place, the face-to-face interaction is still an experience only offered by physical stores; employees can successfully engage customers by giving recommendations which can lead to greater loyalty, longer visits and higher spending in the long run. However consumers who frequent the same store overtime can begin to suffer shopper fatigue if the environment does not provide new and exciting experiences. Therefore, it is important that retailers offer new and invigorating environments to amplify the positive feelings experienced by the customer and keep them coming back.
A societal interaction study conducted by Zhang et al in 2014, found that shoppers tended to slow down and extend the length of their visits in the presence of interactive social influences. Employees were also proven to have the ability to increase the level of product interaction amongst shoppers and increase the amount of sales. Consumers now have so many different channels to shop the same product, that the only way brands are able to gain market share is to ensure that they are evolving from a primarily transactional relationship to an experience-led store concept.
STORY is a retail space which utilises an innovative form of marketing to support other retailers storytelling in uniquely themed and experimental ways. STORY, with its 2,000 square foot boutique location in New York, overhauls the retail space every four to eight weeks, featuring a new theme sponsored by a brand or retailer offering entirely new designs and exclusive products.
There have been over thirty installations on display since STORY first opened in 2011, working with retailers such as Target, Pepsi and Dressbarn. Through the installations, brands have the opportunity to present their identities to shoppers in revolutionary ways, even offering events such as cooking classes and workshops. Many brands recognise that physical retail isn’t going to die out any time soon, but the purpose for a retail unit is constantly evolving toward a greater and more entertaining experience. Many consumers still like to be able to experience the product before they purchase, which is why showroom experiences will always be vital in the evolution of retail.
Other brands such as Debenhams have recently announced a drastically different strategy to streamline their retail experience. Their planned 1-billion-pound investment will see Debenham stores transformed to become ‘digital and different’ with the intention of achieving the status of being the preferred destination across all channels for beauty in the UK. Chief Executive of Debenhams, Sergio Bucher, stated: “If we deliver differentiated and distinctive brands, services and experiences both online and in stores, our customers will visit us more frequently and, having simplified our operations to make us more efficient, we will be able to serve them better and make better use of our resources.”
Destination retail concepts are changing the way in which consumers are choosing to interact with each other. Consumers are now looking to be educated rather than influenced. Smoke and mirrors ad campaigns are portraying unrealistic expectations, and are mostly ignored by millennial shoppers as they look for proof before purchase. Retailers can no longer afford to rely purely on price and quality to compete with other brands given the increased variety of options in today’s market.