Retail is entertainment now. We realize that today’s customers want more than product on display. They want stories to explore, communities to connect to, fun, excitement and surprise. A trip to a retail store is expected to be a continuous discovery. What’s new? is not a question but a demand. And brands have to cater to it to stay in the game.
As product launches and visual stories have quantitative limitations ( per year/per season) it has become an unwritten rule to success to include other forms of engagement to quench the consumer’s increasing thirst for stimulation. The demand for innovative concepts is pushing designers and think tanks to generate constant surprises with a “never-seen-that-before” idea. Often this innovation is replaced by any type of gadget with the hope that technology itself will be the saver. But unless put into a relevant context to the brand story those gadgets often remain unused and ignored (think iPads with irrelevant or boring content).
Here are some better examples of tech gadgets:
The clever part of QR codes is that it requires no hardware ( and with that no maintenance) on the store side. The QR code is on the visual and the consumer activates it with their own handheld device to access the digital side of the brand.
This actually works! The good part here is that it is coupled with a printer, so the personalized remedy for your skin prints out as a recipe to take to the counter for purchase and eventually home with you (so you wont forget!)
We have seen a lot of these photo booths pop-up recently. They draw a lot of attention, especially with younger customers. However, rarely are they relevant to the brand they promote.
We thought a fitting place for this would be a brand that is rooted in photography? So we included the photo booth into a setup for Smashbox Cosmetics, a brand that was actually founded in a photo studio. It infuses fun and allows for upload to social media and print outs to take home. Created-tested-photographed at Smashbox.
This dining table is a touchscreen. You order what you want to eat and while you wait for your food you can browse and shop from the store the restaurant is attached to.
When your product is the tech gadget all you need to do is place it on a table and make it accessible. Immediate interactivity.
There are many advocates for high-tech solutions, but in my experience the simple is often the better. The more intuitive the better. The less technical the more fail save.
Engagement can also mean low tech. Addressing senses to create a multilayered memory. Wether it is a scent, a sound, a touch those can all augment the experience.
What is more fun than playing with the product? Instant engagement!
Smell triggers emotions and memories. In the world of beauty lots of products are chosen by consumers for their smell, which often is only a by-product of the formula. Making the fragrance a touch point creates an indirect engagement with the affiliated product.
These displays are soft and squeezable. I designed these years ago to create a haptic memory in customers. The unexpectedness of the touch created lasting memories (and conversations!) Products for skin care and beauty displayed on organic shaped skins. Hand mirrors in unexpected shapes fit perfectly into ones hands creating a “feel-good” moment.
Sound: One can plug-in their portable music device into these rocking chairs and sound comes out of the back. Fun to experience and surprising. We designed this for a hotel lobby.
These are some examples of tactics of consumer engagement, however the most effective way is still the oldest and most traditional one: the human exchange. Nothing compares to a smile and a great advice from a knowledgeable sales person if you want your consumer to love your brand. No design can beat that.