The Retail Landscape.

The myth that Shopper marketing is all shelf barkers and FSDUs is something that I (and the agency I work for) have been trying to bust for quite a while now.

It’s the elegant dance between TV or editorial campaign and getting the beanz in the trolley, or the gin in the basket. It goes beyond perishable goods and touches anything and everything that can be purchased. I wasn’t really aware of Shopper before I joined Multiply, but I and the team have helped a plethora of brands speak to their consumers it, we’ve got a pretty good grasp of trends that will only continue to gather speed, and one trend, in particular, is something I’ve spent a large portion of my career putting my energy behind.

Experiences in retail are essential – beyond mere commerce, there’s a requirement to build memorable customer experience. Reimagining retail has become more prevalent and crucial to attract consumers offline and instore.

TopShop was arguably ahead of the curve 25 years ago, opening the flagship store in London’s Oxford Circus. The store has food and drinks offerings, over 50 partner brands, personal shopping and a choice of hair, nail and brow bars. Add to this Selfridges offering skill-based classes, lectures, and talks, and Sweaty Betty providing in-store yoga classes – the UK has had experiences covered for a number of years.

It’s a tired fact, but Generations Y & Z really do value experiences over things. Therefore, brands must offer more to hook a purchase. We’ve seen swathes of brands offering memorable customer experiences, it’s crucial if the high street is to survive. Consumers want a mix of things; instagrammable content, sharable experiences, ways of personalisation, advice, new skills… The list is endless.

 

I’ve picked a few of my favourites, showcasing how brands are engaging with existing and new customers. While we’re here, engagement through experience doesn’t need to be flashy. As we’ll show below, it’s really not that new and can be super simple (and cheap) to execute…

Dr Martens – BOOT ROOM: An intimate music venue offering access to biggest acts across all genres. Tying the traditional cultural link between Dr Martens to music and modernising.

Nike’s New NYC Flagship Store – House of Innovation 000: A behemoth of a store with everything from personalisation to shop the mannequin functionality. Showcasing how ahead of the game the brand it.

Levi’s Tailor Shop: Embroidery, t-shirt printing, and alterations. Put your spin on a classic. Harking back to the hand-made craftsmanship of the product.

Apple: Genius bar, in-store lectures, and gigs, masterclasses. The tech equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Dispelling consumer concerns around switching from Microsoft to Apple.

Lush: Although the smell isn’t for everyone, the store is arguably very hands-on, oohing and aahing over the fizzing bath bombs, this is fun product testing. On-site spas and workshops provide additional experiences.

La Famiglia Rana: Only open for five weeks, the Rana pop up was a glimpse into the future of food retail. Instagrammable displays, workshops and meal box guidance proved very popular. Simple but effective.

IKEA: A creche, restaurant, furniture to try in real life, food shop, and styling advice. IKEA has long been a master in consumer experience.

Waterstones: Super simple activation from Waterstones, in-store signings and readings, picks of the month with short reviews from Waterstones employees and most stores have an on-site café.

Rapha: The Rapha Clubhouse has a real cult following. An aspirational place to pick up a coffee, watch the Tour de France or join the cycling club. You may not be able to afford the full kit, but by frequenting the clubhouse, you’re still an active consumer.

Starbucks: The Roastery in Milan is a sight to behold. Onsite roastery, cocktail bar, AR experience, a handpicked store featuring everything from clothes to accessories, and events.

 

Are there any brands you’d like to see providing a more engaging experience?

Jeg o’ Bru

The UK isn’t unfamiliar with deposit return schemes. I’m sure the majority of milk drinkers remember the excitement of peeling back the foil top on a glass bottle in the morning to pour on your cereal, or in your tea. You prayed that a bird hadn’t poked the top of it and that the contents had resisted the harsh British winters’ frost. At the start of the year, milk deliveries in glass bottles were up 25% with the sight of milkmen returning to the streets of London. An astonishing 94% of all milk was delivered in glass bottles in 1975, however by 2016 this dropped to just 3%.

Those who grew up in Scotland will be familiar with the term ‘Jeg of Bru’ – I remember being given a Barrs bottle to return to the shop now and then. I’d get a 10p mix or a Taz/Freddo chocolate bar with the fee!

Bill Bryson called for the return of the bottle deposit scheme almost eight years ago with a very pertinent point;

“What sensible nation would not want to capture and recycle its precious and finite resources? What discerning people would not want to enjoy a litter-free environment?”

I spent some of my childhood in Norway. My sister and I were quite the entrepreneurial duo (thieves). On Sunday mornings, we’d wander around our neighbourhood collecting bottles that had been discarded/left outside for return after a Saturday night of entertaining. We’d pop to the shop and return the bottles, making a tidy little profit for not a lot of effort. When we visited Copenhagen a couple of years back, any bottles we bought were returned to the shop, just as we had done in Norway.

In 2003 a deposit return scheme was introduced in Germany. A staggering 99% of all plastic bottles are recycled. In the UK that figure is just 43%.

I fully support the deposit return scheme, but I’m also not naïve to the cost of implementation. I hope that smaller businesses will be given the appropriate support in order to make this a success for all.