Kate Nightingale has written an article for the Retail Bulletin’s Future of Retail supplement published in May 2016.
Here is the reprint of the article:
How consumer behaviour trends are affecting the retail store design?
With the ever growing emotional and interpersonal isolation brought by the exponential growth of the technology, consumers are increasingly longing for meaningful experiences and relationships. What does that have to do with retail and store design?
As social animals unable to survive in physical and psychological isolation, people have a natural tendency to create relationships with anyone and anything, including brands. Human brain actually perceives brands via its anthropomorphised forms assigning them personality characteristics, accepted ways of behaviour as well as forming certain relationships with them.
Those relationships are very resembling of human relationships and therefore people expect similarly deep and meaningful interactions with brands as with other people. Such interactions need to happen consistently across time and channels. However, physical experiences always have higher potential for creating emotional engagement and memorability.
This is driven by the availability of all the sensory brand representations which create a more holistic and therefore more immersive consumer-brand interaction. Let’s compare it to the interpersonal relations. Do you prefer to text with your partner or meet them in person? What is more enjoyable, engaging and memorable? I believe we all agree on the answers here.
The limited sensory representations available online created a hunger for real, surprising, immersive and therefore meaningful experiences. This is why we see a growing preference for retail stores which allow customers to escape into the brand’s world, step back from their daily lives, and connect with the brand on that deep, meaningful level. You can read about some of these consumer behaviour trends and their influence on retail design in our Sensory Retail Design Report.
In line with these trends we have worked with the rpa:group on the design of their stand for Retail Design Expo. The aim was to create a multisensory environment allowing visitors to escape the busy expo floor, relax and fully engage with the message. The theme followed the idea of ‘retail landscape’. Incorporating lawn into the floor instantly relaxed the visitors and increased the overall dwell time. The floral scent and the sound of birds’ song and stream further calmed the guests and created a receptive attitude. A fresh wheatgrass served as a tactile representation of the landscape theme and everyone just had to touch it. This combined with an in-depth insight into retail psychology displayed on easy to take away post-it notes formed a unique and authentic experience.
In the ever more competitive retail landscape the brands that can reach consumers’ subconscious minds as well as their hearts will be the ones to succeed. Therefore, designing brands in tune with how the human mind and heart works is not anymore a ‘nice-to-have’. It is a necessity for brands which want to survive.