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How brands can overcome the failing retail environment

How brands can overcome the failing retail environment

The traditional retail model is failing brands. 

In-store experiences help people discover and understand innovative products, but often an outdated model that leaves them bored and uninspired stifles them.

Brands need the ability to engage consumers with their story. And consumers are eager to hear them.

Yet it’s harder than ever to connect with people in a meaningful way. Brands rarely have the opportunity to bring their products to life, leaving them reliant on retailers to help them stand out and deliver product knowledge and demonstrations. Sadly, the current approach to the retail environment falls short of doing this effectively in so many ways. 

Brands need a fundamental reimagining of retail. A radical new approach underpinned by experiences, where brand stories come to life and consumers deeply engage in learning how those brands can improve their lives; an approach that will reshape the high street as it gradually emerges from its most challenging period in recent memory.

Online is not the only answer
Many people automatically assume online retail is the only answer. It’s certainly become more important, but it’s a distraction-rich environment that takes significant investment to make an impact.

Consumers clearly find buying products online convenient, and it was their only option when faced with a lock-down. But a frustration with the experience they have in physical stores also drives them to buy online.

According to research from RetailChoice, 57% are more likely to make a purchase if they encounter knowledgeable and approachable staff. Yet this is the exception rather than the norm, fuelling their motivation to head online.

Retail stores are not giving them anything more than they can find online. In many cases, much less. But the online experience isn’t delivering either.

A recent report from shopping centre operator Westfield, suggests we’re living in an “age of Anti-Prescription”, with the inaccurate recommendations served up by algorithms frustrating 56% of shoppers.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that business leaders need to adapt quickly and explore new and innovative approaches to survive. They need to plan for, and move with, the changes they can see coming, and be ready to respond to the ones they can’t.

For brands, that means taking a radical new approach to the retail channel.

Creating a deeper connection
People crave human interaction and real world experiences, now more than ever. They want meaning and memories, and that applies to the buyer journey as much as anywhere else.

Kantar research shows 70% of consumers want physically to experience products that will enhance their lives. But brands can’t rely on retailers to create those positive experiences on their behalf, so they need to find a way to take more control.

Fortunately, new opportunities are emerging on the high street.

Those opportunities look very different to what we’ve known before. Exciting and enthusiastic product demonstrations have previously existed at trade shows, ‘pop-ups’ and exhibitions, with retail outlets focused purely on sales per square footage.

Now, Situ Live is set to disrupt the status quo and change the retail landscape. With big ideas and big ambitions, this groundbreaking concept is preparing to launch its first game-changing experience in London next year. And CEO, Warren Richmond, is excited for the role it will play in bringing about a quantum shift for the entire industry: “Retail hasn’t evolved at the right pace to remain relevant and robust, but no one wants to see high streets disappear.

“We believe retail outlets need to become experiential centres, facilitating a deeper connection between brands and their customers. Purchases will increasingly happen online, seeing physical stores exert a bigger influence on consumers when it comes to brand awareness and consideration.”

Far from the ‘pop-ups’ and gimmicks that once defined experiential retail, this concept is set to become a pivotal element in the business model and marketing strategy for lifestyle products.

Embracing the quantum shift
The first step is to understand why such change is inevitable, and what brands can do to embrace it and adapt.

Situ Live’s report Retail: The Quantum Shift explores the trend towards a new model of experiential retail and the mindblowing opportunities it presents for brands.

As the world starts to recover from the impact of the pandemic, consumers are hungry for engagement and inspiration, for experiences and meaning. And brands need to prepare for that now, uncovering new opportunities to help them succeed in a new world of retail.

Find out what this means and what it might look like for your brand. Download your copy of the report here

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