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The experiential retail era.


In a post Covid world, consumer behaviour is changing. If you hadn’t noticed, we’re living in the world of digital personalisation. Brands such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify are changing customer behaviour using their personalisation recommendation engines.
“Personalisation is changing how retailers reach, interact with, and utilise data from customers. The result is smarter marketing campaigns that are uniquely catered to each customer’s interests, and modern shoppers won’t settle for less,” says Jasmine Glasheen from retail futures consultancy Insider Trends.
Personalisation is closely associated with online retail, with algorithms and online data, particularly in a time where people are hesitant to shop in store. However, although consumer behaviour is changing and more transactions are taking place online, this doesn’t mean that it’s all over for physical shops.
“The unique part to retail spaces is that they are physical. This was true before Covid and remains true as we begin our next chapter in life post lockdown, ” said Freddie Sheridan, Global Director at global design agency Sheridan&Co earlier this summer.
If physical shops will remain a vital part of the shopping experience – how can the personalisation process be leveraged there?  What does personalisation mean in the non-digital context?
A memorable example from physical stores was the Share a Coke campaign from 2013-2014. Coca Cola replaced the iconic logo with some of the most popular names (adapted for geographical demographics), which were then printed on Coca-Cola labels. People were also able to personalise their own bottles of Coca-Cola on the Share a Coke tour.
Iconic denim brand Levi’s is another global brand that stand out when it comes to personalisation by customising their denim products both in-store and online. Jennifer Sey, CMO Levi Strauss & Co Global Brands, said last year that their customers had been personalising their jeans for ages and the company wanted to make it easier for them..
“They sat in bathtubs to shrink them to fit, they patched and repaired them, they sanded them down for the perfect worn in finish. Now, with Future Finish, we’re making it easy to create a one of a kind custom pair of Levi’s,” she said at the launch of the initiative.
Despite the current hesitance to return to physical stores, it is unlikely that customers will shun the high street for ever. With our music, our films and our purchases curated and recommended for us online, is it any wonder that we are starting to look for the same experience in store?  Customer behaviour is changing and the winners will be those who stay on top of what their customer wants. With the online experience tailored to the individual customer, it could look even bleaker for the high street if personalisation is neglected in physical stores​. It will be important to stand out, but the question is how to achieve this with a limited marketing budget.
According to Piyush Chowhan, Global Chief Information Officer at LuLuGroup speaking on the RetailME podcast;
“People are talking about online a lot … it’s not about physical or online and trying to marry these two together into an offering…This is an experiential retail era rather than a transactional retail era…we want to give that best experience to the customer.”

Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, should always be the ultimate goal.
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