Similarly, South Korea’s Gentle Monster continues to wow with its spaces. Its latest, the Haus Dosan, features gallery-like stores across four floors and will host several different brands. At present the experience offers skincare from Tamburins, clothing and a ‘fantasy-inspired dessert brand’. Gentle Monster has plans for a further Haus in Shanghai, where ‘fans and visitors will get an opportunity to experience various test concepts and content within its walls’.
Haeckels and Gentle Monster point to a future of retail that’s all about experimentation and agility: feeling comfortable with changing things, provoking customers and, where appropriate, re-imagining entire buildings.
In New York, close to the Flatiron building, the new Harry Potter store takes some cues from the famed Warner Bros Studio experience. Various Enchanted Keys around the store can be scanned with the Harry Potter Fan Club app to bring the store to life. With Butterbeer on tap, wand-engraving and other immersive retail experiences, it’s recommended that guests expect to spend 45 minutes to an hour in-store. This is retail that borrows from the theme park more than it does the shop next door.
These three examples make me think that retailers need to behave more like those aforementioned galleries, spas and theme parks. Experiences need to be updated regularly, changing with the seasons and brand stories creating moments of punctuation in the days, weeks and months.
Give people reason to come and to return. Think beyond product sales and create cultural connections that resonate with audiences, giving them experiences that can’t be created online. People are hungry for conversational cachet: we’ve all spent too long behind screens and need the physical shock of the new to remind us just how bricks-and mortar retail can offer so much, especially when it borrows from unexpected sources.
Adam Thompson is strategy director at Amplify, awarded Brand Experience Agency of the Decade in 2019, with clients including Airbnb, Google and Spotify.
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