What role does store design play in the retail experience of millennials vs. other age groups? How can retail designers and visual merchandisers appeal to millennials without alienating older shoppers?
Experience really is everything these days, and as the economy continues to modify the way many of us work, shop, and live, expect to see the very notion of “value” shaken up in 2012 and 2013. What is having a “valuable” experience all about? Perhaps no sector is a better barometer for this new notion of value than retail, and its offer: shopping.
A cool trend taking shape in retail is an extension of the heritage movement of the last few years. The subtle nod to creating a homey vibe in-store serves two purposes: giving customers a respite from their own lives and offering a more intimate look into the lives of brand designers. Marc Jacobs’ BookMarc is filled with the designer’s favorite tomes, and Jimmy Choo has sofas and accessories found in the designer’s own apartment, while the staircase in Christian Louboutin’s shop inside Selfridges in London is a replica of the one in his home, adding an intimacy and personalization to the shopping experience. Millennials will feel most comfortable in a space with personal touches.
I’m also in support of retailers putting interactive technology in-store to lure the tech-savvy millennial. Microsoft’s Kinect technology, first used in gaming, is leading the way and is now being used to create virtual fitting rooms, where 3-D models of our bodies can try on clothes online. This augmented reality will still play into bricks-and-mortars, as some brands think of making this technology an in-store mainstay. Macy’s, for one, installed a “Magic Fitting Room” in its Herald Square store in New York City. Within minutes, shoppers were “trying on” tops, dresses, and jackets, creating as many as 16 outfits that could be stored in a digital closet, and then shared on Facebook and by e-mail. Similarly, Swiss watchmaker Tissot ran an interactive display in a Harrods window, inviting people passing by to try on watches.
Marian Salzman is CEO, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America. This piece was excerpted from a Q&A by the International Retail Design Conference (Sept. 5-7, 2012 in Chicago).
Image credit: Creative Commons/ZÃ¼rich | Zurich | Zurigo@flickr.com