How Experiential Retail Is Giving Physical Stores An Edge
As 2020 unfolds, the retail business has been dramatically altered. Macy’s started the year by laying off employees and closing stores. Simon Properties led a team of investors to essentially buy out one of its tenants, Forever 21. And the supermarket business has thinned its ranks, with several organic food players going out and Amazon coming in.
But with consumer spending holding steady, it’s important for retailers to grasp the opportunity to create innovative ways to get, keep and grow customers. One of the most commonly talked-about and executed strategies in the 2020 connected commerce world is experiential marketing. For retailers, it can be as simple as an in-store event or a high-profile design that consumers will travel to visit. But experiential marketing is also a customer-centric strategy intended to drive customer retention and strengthen the bond between retailer and consumer.
According to a recent report from Forrester and Adobe, brands defined as “experience-driven” grow at a clip of 19 percent per year, compared to 13 percent for others. And retailers that deploy experiential tactics drive repeat purchases at rates nearly twice those who don’t. Says the report: “Combined with the increased ease of online shopping and rapid growth of alternative, in-home and mobile entertainment options, it is absolutely critical that retailers and retail center owners continuously evaluate how to stand out and drive consumers to their centers. Today’s consumers desire more than simply goods, as experiences, and the memories and bragging rights that come with them – as well as content for their Instagram feed – are just as important.”
So, what constitutes experiential marketing for retailers? Wine and cheese for the shoppers? Golf games at the mall? Pop-up stores? All of the above, actually, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. The version that works the best shows the two-way, strategic nature of the discipline. Says a recent report from George Johnson, an agency specializing in experiential marketing, its purpose is to “give audiences easy and inviting access to the level of content that interests them, information is tiered and presented in hybrid formats. Dimensional, human-scaled assets attract attention, grabbing eyes and inviting exploration through physical interaction. The physical actions activate digital experiences, which draw participants deeper into individualized levels of content satisfying to them.”