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Once reserved for retail experiences at Apple stores and Disney parks, experiential retail is becoming an effective mainstream brand-building activation strategy.
Retail is the physical space for brands to connect with consumers in an omnichannel world, creating memorable experiences. Experiential retail considers humans as connected beings, creating spaces for them to gather around a shared interest and explore through their senses—complementing the one-dimensional, fast-paced online experience and transcending transaction. Connected retail experiences begin with data from digital touch points to create personalized physical experiences that consumers bring back to digital via social media.
Marketers worldwide agree: According to the 2022 Future of Commerce report from Shopify, 40% of brands say that experiential retail is a top priority, and 32% of consumers indicate that they plan to engage in experiential retail in the coming year.
So, what does this mean for marketers who want to take advantage of the 81% of Gen Z consumers who prefer to discover new products in store?
For brands with equity in the digital world, integrating experiential retail takes careful planning. Start by merging what you know about consumers’ online behavior to create a personalized and impactful offline solution.
Next, determine how the physical retail space can connect consumers, create community, activate brand ambassadors and ultimately bring consumers closer to the brand. Design memorable retail experiences that encourage consumers to return time and time again. Unlike nimble digital strategies, experiential retail has permanence and requires getting it right the first time.
The Body Shop exists “to fight for a fairer, more beautiful world.” As a registered B Corp, The Body Shop balances its financial goals with people and purpose—the brand is built around activism, empowerment of women and girls, sustainability and fair trade. It has roots in a commitment to all living things, with a brand promise to never test or exploit a living being.
In its next step toward being the change it wants to see in the world, The Body Shop designed retail workshop stores that bring its brand and purpose to life: Enter a Body Shop changemaking workshop, and you can try ethically sourced products with natural ingredients packaged in reusable containers. Repeat customers are encouraged to return with their original packaging to a refill station to stock up on their favorite products while reducing waste and participating in a closed-loop, environmentally friendly system. Sustainable fixtures greet customers throughout the store in a small-footprint, environmentally conscious activation.
In addition, the workshop store brings its activist roots to retail through an “Act” area of the store where customers can connect with like-minded activists, discover campaigns for social change and take steps toward making that change.
The Body Shop has leveled up its omnichannel strategy to take their ecommerce platform to an in-store experience that reinforces its brand purpose. This example of experiential retail is successful because it is brand-congruent and integrated: The retail strategy reinforces 46 years of brand heritage.
The workshop stores are designed around experiences that are important to the consumer and do more than sell products. The environment reflects The Body Shop’s values through its design choices, use of space and immersive activities. All of this works in concert to facilitate a brand relationship between The Body Shop and its customers.