Passion is the great driver of retail. Shoppers have embraced the digital world, yet they still have a passion for living in the physical world. Consumer expectations have been set by a decade of online shopping. As shopping moments multiply and become nearly ubiquitous, retailers and marketers must focus on bringing passion to the in-store shopping experience. We must make it worthwhile for shoppers to visit the store.
The ways consumers think about, shop for and use products are not purely rational. People don’t shop simply to get basic necessities and conduct transactions as quickly as possible. Shoppers look to have new experiences, exchange news, gossip and ideas, learn something, escape from daily life, haggle for a bargain or feel a sense of community. The role of Shopper Marketing is to keep current about why people shop, in order to create a desirable way for shoppers to fill their needs.
Retailers and marketers are deploying a number of approaches to rekindle passion in-store. We look at four areas that have been emerging — Backstory, Experience, Theatre/Discovery and Shopping Trip Alignment — with an eye towards learning from these approaches.
Backstory makes it easier for shoppers to understand and share an experience. One of the things that All Saints, The Upside Down Gap Store (Toronto), 4010 Telecom (Cologne, blurring of retail and art) share is their use of backstory as a way to drive footfall. Food retailers like Whole Foods (food literature) and Trader Joe’s (campy product descriptions) are using backstory to engage shoppers at the shelf.
Backstory is not just about entertainment, but provides useful information about health and nutrition, provenance of food, carbon footprints, etc. Equally important, backstory makes it easy for consumers to recount their experience to others.
Experience helps shoppers envision how a product works for them. Retailers such as Lululemon , LUSH and Desigual create unique, engaging in-store experiences which allows shoppers to see how products fit with their lives. Tommy Hilfiger’s Prep Pop-up House lets shoppers experience the true meaning of prep.
Mark’s Walk-in Freezer Lab (Edmonton), a revolutionary state of-the-art walk-in weather simulator lab, lets shoppers try out apparel. Coca Cola’s Freestyle machines drive patrons to different locations and encourage them to experiment with their drink.
The Apple Store (“Come to the store to shop, return to learn”), IKEA and The School of Life (London) are three examples of retailers who provide points of discovery throughout their stores. Livraria Cultura (Brazil) encourages shoppers to explore and discover things cultural (from books to live musical performances and plays).
Not all retail theatre is a major production. Much of theatre/discovery helps shoppers find new, more desirable ways to meet their needs. Family Dollar, Dollar General and Five Below provide shoppers with ongoing opportunities to discover new values!
The Container Store, by dint of its expert advice and specialist nature, helps shoppers discover solutions for storage, organization and more. Publix Apron Cooking Classes allow shoppers to learn more about a wide range of food topics (gluten-free cooking, fine dining, wine and cheese entertaining).
A simple, at-shelf example is Seattle’s Best “Level System” which makes it easier for shoppers explore and shop for coffee.
4. Mission Alignment
Mission alignment helps establish shopper empathy, makes it easier to shop. Retailers like Tesco, Carrefour and Walmart are experimenting with multiple store formats targeted to shopper segments and/or occasions. Tesco’s Metro and Express formats are more tailored to quick trips, while its Extra format is more targeted to stock-up trips. Walmart’s Express format is much more focused on food/grocery trips. Albert Heijn’s (Ahold) “AH-to-go” is a convenience format being tested in Germany.
Kmart’s “Buy Online, Pick up In Store” and Walmart’s “Pick it Up Today” allow shoppers to order online and pick-up their orders at the store the same day; designed for a specific kind of shopper need. Similarly, lifestyle merchant Bed Bath & Beyond’s “Shop your local store & Pick up near your school” program is designed to serve back-to-college needs.
The ability to direct passion is what brings retail to life and engages shoppers. Retail is about simple ideas that are well-executed. These simple ideas are about human connection. Providing a better in-store experience forwards business objectives in four ways: 1) Shoppers are hard-wired to look to the new news, it attracts shoppers and drives footfall; 2) experience helps shoppers imagine how products/solutions will work for them; improving engagement, understanding and ultimately conversion; 3) discovery helps demonstrate more desirable ways to meet needs and increase basket size; 4) finally, in-store experience creates “first visit advantage,” an opportunity to create return visits in the future.
About the Author
Jim Lucas is executive vice president, Global Director, Retail Insight and Strategy at Draftfcb. The acknowledged founder of the science of retail ecology and a 25-year practitioner in the field, he is internationally recognized as an experienced marketer and leading authority on understanding how consumers interact with brands and how they behave in retail environments. His article, Shopper Marketing: the discipline, the approach” appears in the international best seller titled “Shopper Marketing” (Kogan Page, April 2010), featuring subject experts from around the world.
He works with on a wide range of client issues for both manufacturers and retailers, domestic and global. He is a frequent speaker at leading industry forums including the Cannes Int’l Advertising Festival, In-Store Marketing Institute, and POPAI.
Holder of a PhD, Lucas has also served as an adjunct faculty member at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and The University of Chicago and Columbia College, Chicago.