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Brand experiences on demand: changing expectations in retail

In the current era of information and choice, consumer expectations are progressively more demanding. The number of factors in a consumer’s consideration set is increasing exponentially, which means making the right decision is becoming more challenging.

Now more than ever before, retailers need to do more to stand out. They are no longer viewed as just a store. Rather, they are strategically engineered ecosystem designed to make a person’s life easier, make them wiser, and deliver on their needs faster. When one dissects these ecosystems, there are certain trends and similarities that emerge as common ground. Those that follow these common principles are setting a new standard for brand experiences at retail.

Have an inspired purpose.

New experiences must align with the consumers’ lifestyle and core beliefs. Social purpose has risen to be a core value, and with that came an expectation that brands share the same ideals. The conversation between the retailer and consumers must be inspirational and support who they are and who they want to be. Delivering a great product or service along is no longer enough to build affinity for a brand. The dialog must also convey a sense of authenticity and transparency around the retailer’s purpose in order to build a lasting relationship with the shopper.

Customer-led and personal.

In the “Age of You,” it is the consumer that is in control. In order to stay relevant, retailers are recognizing and embracing their shoppers’ uniqueness, and determining ways to help them navigate choices, while also allowing them to feel in control of their own experiences. It is a delicate balance. The best retail ecosystems lay out a tailored experience of well-informed possibilities and on-demand gratification by elevating the consumer. A retailer can achieve this through the integration of connected technology, such as AI, and in-person customer service.

Designed to be delightful.

Less is still more. Consumers no longer have time to peruse all the information out there, especially given that the average consumer is faced with an estimated 7,000 brand messages a day. New brand experiences need to be designed to deliver micro-moments of delight. Curated interactions that are designed to save time while being memorable will make the biggest impact and stand out from the clutter. Speed and ease are edging out value as a leading deciding factor for purchases.

Seamlessly connected and always relevant.

“If you like this, you will like that.” As the curators of choice and lifestyle, retailers need to not just offer you products, but suggest relevant recommendations that fit your needs, with consideration of all options available to you. This is only possible by putting a focus on customer metrics. A large amount data needs to be efficiently stored and analyzed to inform the retail experience needed for the brand to seamlessly serve as their personal consultants and facilitators of choice. Analytics need to become a focal point to enable brands to maintain relevance with the always-connected consumer.

Always on.

In this new era of retail, time is a commodity. Gone are the days of waiting, and this is evident by the popularity of online retailers. The one-click functionality of Amazon provides a level of convenience that traditional retailers cannot match. While many have thought that online shopping would be the death of brick-and-mortar, it has actually challenged the retail industry to think outside the box—or the store—to create innovative new experiences. These new retail brand experiences must deliver on consumers’ needs through multiple channels at any time, anywhere. They must bridge physical and digital and deliver more value in less time.

Although the perfect retail ecosystem does not exist yet, many retailers are making strides to meet the expectations and demands of consumers—both off and online—that will allow them to break through the noise and become a partner, not just a store, that caters to their lifestyles.

Learn about some of the up-and-coming start-ups and innovators that are not only helping retailers breakthrough, but are truly Breakthrough Brands themselves in “In the on demand economy, Breakthroughs facilitate.”

 

 

Contributors

Executive Creative Director, Consumer & Retail Brand Experience