Experience plus innovation, Brick & Mortar's guardian Angel?
The ‘experience economy’, covered extensively by B. Jospeh Pine II and James H. Gilmore in their article and book of the same name, is showing no signs of decline. In fact, the success and growth of online sales has increased demand for, and supply of, experience in shops, showrooms and restaurants. Consider this along with the fleeting escapism it offers consumers from their hectic routine and it is no wonder that experience lives on. Shops have been transformed into detailed experiential worlds showcasing brands and their products, whereas restaurants have become palaces of flavour, not just a feast for the stomach, but also very much so for the eyes. The ‘New Tech Renaissance’, however, is propelling ‘innovation’ forward, making it the major buzz word of this time. In this way, experience and innovation increasingly reinforce each other.
In their competition with online retail, Brick and Mortar exploit this trend cleverly. The physical shops of outdoor brands Canada Goose, Hunter Boots and Timberland, all with products aimed at a specific climate, seized their chance and developed various concepts allowing consumers to try out their products’ usage and quality in various weather settings simulated in-store. The Canada Goose Store created a cold room where shoppers can experience for themselves, how warm the jackets keep them at various temperatures below zero. And Hunter Boots placed a Pop-up Green House in the middle of Grand Central New York where passers-by can try out their boots in humid conditions. Timberland integrated a whole snow- and rain room in their new shop on 5th Avenue.
Meanwhile, fitness brands such as Asics and Nike refused to be left behind and created similar exhilarating experiences to test and try out new product innovations. Asics opened a ‘Blackout Track’ in East-London to promote their new Gel-Kayano 25 sneakers. The racetrack was completely dark, emphasising the meditative aspect of running and Asics’ running communities on social media. In the newest Nike store in New York, you can try out their most recent developments in performance basketball shoes, like those work by basketball legend Kevin Durant, on an in-store basketball court. Likewise the Nike Adapt BB, Nike’s first smart shoe, offers a consistent, unique personal fit. The Nike Adapt app allows you to enter and save your favourite fit, to adjust the lights and download updates so that you always get the best possible performance from your shoe. And what could be better than Nike giving you the chance to try out this groundbreaking innovation for real first.
We love seeing how innovation and experience are becoming intertwined in these new retail concepts. Ratio, performance and data are packaged and delivered in a fun way with users being involved from the beginning. Retailers know how to differentiate themselves in order to get the consumers to their stores. And because these ‘Instagrammable' experiences also generate a lot of engagement on social media, they accomplish two goals at once.