Authors: Benjamin Gietzendanner, Marine Wellauer, Janina Morgen
With many luxury retailers adopting an omnichannel strategy, boutiques are becoming more and more a place of inspiration rather than only for purchases. Boutiques optimize their sales space by displaying fewer articles in the showroom and reinventing the boutique environment, allying brand’s DNA and modernity as a way to adapt to new customers’ expectations. However, some boutiques went far beyond an innovative boutique environment and created “branded” retail entertainment, incorporating activations, events, sports and technologies. Hence, the retailtainment experience can vary from company to company and even from boutique to boutique. Nevertheless, these innovative initiatives should create unique moments for customers while also fitting with the brand’s DNA to build brand loyalty over the long run.
So, what’s the point? The goal of retailtainment is to revive brick-and-mortar boutiques for customers. Optimizing for e-commerce has been a priority for many brands for a while, but even pure players have shown that physical boutiques such as pop-up stores offer vital touchpoints and are great at creating customer engagement.
Enhancing the physical presence and customer engagement has led to many innovative activations of brands known as retailtainment. Besides increasing visibility, retailtainment creates memorable moments that often cause a viral buzz – a way to foster word-of-mouth sales. Generally speaking, experimental campaigns and activations in physical stores are more efficient than many paid advertisement strategies as they create memorable interactions with the brand, leading to customer acquisition and brand loyalty.
Unique and entertaining experiences primarily address Generation Z and Millennials as they are known for having an experience-seeking nature. Baby Boomers tend to shop offline or ROPO (research online, purchase offline), and while the in-store experience is important to them, it is vital for Generation Z and Millennials, where the uniqueness of the experience with a brand is a determining factor for a deeper brand relationship. The ultimate goal of a luxury retailer is to align the customer experience of all generations, enabling Baby Boomers to receive a seamless and expert service in-store while shaping innovative and entertaining brand interactions for younger generations.
Retailers should build the interior as a chameleon that can be adapted for temporary initiatives of retailtainment. A simple but effective in-store activation can be achieved with a dedicated catering corner as customers of all ages enjoy eating and drinking while shopping. Another way to pick up digital native Millennials is by building upon the brand’s social media strategies and rolling out activations along all channels – integrating a corner made to shoot pictures and videos enables customers to connect on social media and share their in-store experience. While the creativity for retailtainment has no limits, brands should understand the importance of training staff to spark magical moments. Besides product and brand expertise, the sales force needs emotional intelligence and empathy.
All in all, leveraging the power of the staff’s storytelling, creating unique and moments that stick and aligning the experience to the brand’s DNA is key for a meaningful retailtainment customer experience.