The retail outlet has always been treated as an important touch point in communicating with the consumer. Then with the advent of e-commerce, the spotlight shifted to the online UI.
Real world experiences aren’t going away though, as the Retail Renaissance trend pointed out a while back; they’re re-emerging in a big way. Digital technologies are revamping traditional retail, and bringing it to life. Online is now driving the consumer offline. In fact the lines are fast blurring and brands that still silo the two are going to have to play catch up.
Digital for digital’s sake might not cut it anymore, digital strategists are fast becoming experience curators who have the discernment to weave uninterrupted brand experiences across platforms.
While digital offers convenience and technology, brick and mortar stores offer sensorial immersion. The sweet spot lies in the coming together of these worlds. The recently transformed Burberry flagship store in London is a great example. The store is transformed into 44,000 ft of digital wow. From mirrors that are motion sensitive and turn into runways, to live streaming of the London Fashion Show, this store is a living breathing brand world.
Then there’s Audi City, mentioned in my previous post as well, which is a first of its kind digital car showroom. With ceiling to floor ‘power walls’ that allow you to dream up exactly how you’d like your car to look, while letting you maintain a seamless experience from website to store and back to website.
While driving the consumer online was once the chosen path, bringing the online experience to stores is where digital truly comes a full circle.
The rules of “Consumer Engagement” have been getting ink in every other article, publication, blog and ‘how-to’ advertising guide out there in recent times. Well-deserved no doubt, brands have already moved past telling their story to reaching out and asking you to write it with them. In today’s ‘always-on-my-phone’ age though, engagement has largely taken the form of apps, online engagement, and ofcourse the twitterverse and facebooksphere.
If you think back to the traditional retail kiosk though, are we still only having one-way conversations with the consumer? Is there a level of interaction that can be built in, in a subtle way without the nightmarish corner-and-distract car salesman technique? It raises questions like How does one read the shopper’s disposition? Would they want to be approached? Do they want to hear what’s on sale? Or…do they just want to be left alone to browse,without the sales talk?
Clinique attempts a psychic-equivalent of mind reading with purposeful wrist bands, that encourage shoppers to wear one to ‘speak their mind’. Wear green ‘for a consultation’, Pink ‘to browse in peace’ and White for ‘Express Service’.
This attempts to solve the problem of intimidating potential customers with overselling/shadowing them around. Ofcourse, it needs to translate to an attentive sales force, that is constantly wrist-watching before launching into sell mode.
In my opinion, while this is a new approach and seemingly fresh, it could be further developed and could lend itself to a campaign thought. For instance, how about translating this level of consumer understanding into something Clinique can own? Could this reinstate Clinique’s branding as the professional skin care expert?
There’s a strong level of consumer interaction that these wrist bands summon, and a hint of what could be a big(ger) brand idea.
‘Engagement’ as a one-off is novelty, but could be very powerful if embraced and sucked into the brand’s essence and cross-channelized across all media. It would provide a level of consistency that makes brand interaction a smoother process than what it currently is.
Now if only there was an app for that.