Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Trend: The Experience Economy: Retail Spaces

All the dust and energy Marshall Field's Macy's recently invested in making the downtown Minneapolis store white, sterile, and a nightmare for its cleaning staff has reminded me how a retail environment can alter your perception of a store as well as your experience. And given the preponderance of stores like Costco, Old Navy, and Circuit City, it's refreshing to see some retailers thinking outside of the big box. (Or under it in the case of Apple, below.)

While they're not exactly the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the Colossus, BusinessWeek's Nine Retail Wonders of the World (via Brand Experience Lab) go above and beyond typical store experiences. One of my favorites is REI's Seattle store that includes fabricated ecosystems where one can test out raincoats or hiking boots; even though the store is almost 10 years old, the idea is still intriguing (if a little gimmicky).

One thing all of these stores do well is break the mold not just from other retailers, but from their own "sister" stores. The LA Prada store would lose some of its cache if suddenly every Prada boutique looked the same. While localized customization is impractical for retailers with hundreds of stores, new models are emerging. Local coffee shop franchise Dunn Brothers tries to reflect both the local community and owners through "highly interchangeable" store design packages.

And even if it's as small as the "About/Made in Minnesota" film section at my old local Blockbuster, a little can go a long way to foster good will from people.

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