Interestingly, while access sits at the heart of these stores – they are open to anyone and everyone – the idea of being a space that customers have to actively seek out adds a new layer to brand desirability. Instead of conforming to traditional retail models of high volume, high footfall and high visibility, their subtle restriction creates a loyal community of people who feel more like members than customers – a hallmark of the inclusive exclusivity trend.
High street retailers can follow suit by creating additional spaces within their stores – or temporary experiences – that are open to all but only their best customers might be told about. Contrary to retail norms, ‘best customers’ here may not just be the ones who spend the most but the ones who contribute the most back to the store and wider brand community.
It doesn’t have to be a physical space either. Last year Miu Miu launched its latest fragrance, Miu Miu Twist, in a video game. It was a specific location, albeit a virtual one, where anyone in the world could visit but again, you had to be in the know of where and how to find it.
Indeed, the phygital manifestation of this trend is even more important now in light of Covid-19 and emerging consumer mindsets that are more cautious when it comes to spending and consuming. And while we have seen this trend emerge in high-end, high-spend fashion stores, it’s an approach that any retailer can and should adopt. The key is to remember that knowledge and access, not wealth, are the new cultural currency and consumers are craving access to experiences that surprise and entertain them, in turn bringing them closer to your brand.
George Gottl is chief creative officer at UXUS, an independent multidisciplinary design agency specialising in strategic design solutions for retail, architecture and hospitality design.
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