Laura Giffard, founder of London integrated creative agency Perq Studio believes ‘truly mindful retail’ is the key to bricks and mortar brands achieving success in 2020.
A recent global study from Mood Media on the impact of sensory marketing found that 90% of shoppers are likely to revisit a store if it has a pleasing atmosphere, while 75% stay longer in stores with sensorial elements. While every bricks and mortar retailer should absolutely be optimising their customers’ in-store experience in response to such definitive insights, sensory overload has the potential to damage sales and in the long run, the brand. That’s why an effective mindful retail strategy is the key for brands seeking to weather the high street slump.
While big spending, but struggling businesses like Topshop opt to deliver one-off popups like its recent TSTM Sensory Room (where a sensory experience was installed for customers to take a break from their shopping) the real power of a mindful retail experience is when the customer feels ‘connected and present’ whilst they’re shopping, rather than separating the brand experience from the shopping function. Clever retail brands are luring customers back in-store and setting a leisurely, self-directed pace to product discovery rather than tacking on temporary, often frenetic and distracting experiences.
Few retail destinations do this better than the humble garden centre. Despite continued market pressure, the garden centre market in the UK has enjoyed consistent growth of over 1% a year since 2014*. By offering just the right mix of product and experience to cater for a wide variety of multigenerational visitors a trip to the garden centre is presented as a leisure destination in itself – a relaxing day out to be taken at one’s own pace.
Changes to garden centres have been a case of evolution rather than revolution to date. Innovations in visual merchandising and instore promotion are usually subtle, yet effective and always considerate of the overall retail journey. They have no need for gimmicky sensorial rooms as the entire experience is sensory, inviting us to reconnect with nature and our humanity.
To provide a truly mindful in-store experience, retailers must strike the most delicate of balances: delivering the brand promise through visual merchandising and quality customer service while providing an engaging experience to keep shoppers ‘in the moment’ without overwhelming the senses. This needn’t mean huge expense or a significant loss of floor space for a vast sensory installation. Carefully curated music, lighting, rest areas, even the use of a signature scent will go a long way to creating positive associations with the in-store brand experience.