Retailtainment - The Future of Retail?

From new seasons to new trends, retail is a fast-moving industry. Yet the fundamental basis of how retail works has remained unchanged for some time. Historically, if you could provide the right product, in the right place, at the right price you would almost certainly see retail success.

From new seasons to new trends, retail is a fast-moving industry. Yet the fundamental basis of how retail works has remained unchanged for some time. Historically, if you could provide the right product, in the right place, at the right price you would almost certainly see retail success.
Interactive Tree of Discovery - Lego store on Fifth Avenue, New York City

eCommerce now poses a very real threat to traditional retail. Online shops are often able to offer more competitive pricing and high levels of convenience. This doesn't mean that traditional retail is a thing of the past, but as it becomes more difficult to compete on the usual factors such as price, they do need to evolve in order to ensure ongoing success.

In this guide, we take a look at retailtainment - what it is, why you should invest in it and how to implement it successfully in your store.

What is Retailtainment?

Retailtainment is a simple enough concept to understand.

Retail + Entertainment = Retailtainment

The phrase was first coined by American sociologist George Ritzler as “the use of sound, ambience, emotion, and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in the mood to buy”.

Although Ritzler coined this phrase just over 20 years ago, it is no new thing. For years shops have used entertainment to draw customers in and engage them. You may remember toy stores as a child using bubble-blowing machines and even children entertainers to grab your and your parent’s attention, or trendy clothing stores hosting DJs to inspire you to pop in and browse.

Why Invest in Retailtainment?

As it becomes increasingly difficult for physical stores to compete with online retail on factors such as price and convenience, smart retailers are turning to retailtainment as a way to create a desirable experience and draw customers through the doors.

A new generation of consumers, particularly millennials, are also moving towards seeking out experiences over obtaining material possessions. In fact, one study shows that more than 3 in 4 millennials would rather spend money on experiences than physical products.

Immersive experiences not only help you attract customers through the door but also help you relate to those customers on a previously achievable level. For example, a brand that is attempting to appeal to a young trendy crowd can use retailtainment to show that crowd that they understand what appeals to them by putting on trendy music events.

When a brand manages to show that they truly understand their customers they can start to build high levels of loyalty. This is because customers trust that you share the same values as them and will work to fulfill their needs within these values. This is beneficial as it makes it considerably more likely that your customers will recommend you to friends and family as well as return to you to fulfill future needs.

As competing on factors such as price becomes more difficult, offering retailtainment gives your business a competitive edge over others. Many customers will happily spend more on a product from a company they know and trust.

Finally, when potential customers visit your store to partake in retailtainment events and experiences it offers you a good opportunity to collect data. This may be email addresses to help keep your customers informed on future events and offers, or it may be data on your customer’s preferences and circumstances to help you serve them better.

How to Implement Retailtainment

So, we have established that retailtainment can be a great way for businesses to grow customer loyalty, drive footfall and increase profits. But how can you implement retailtainment?

The possibilities are truly endless. Any experience you think your customers would enjoy could be considered retailtainment. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding what might work for your store:

  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What experiences do my target audience typically seek out?
  3. What message am I trying to communicate to my target audience?
  4. What experiences are logistically and financially viable in my store?

For example, you may decide to run a DJ or music event in-store to attract a young crowd or you may create an immersive experience using holograms and digital displays in order to educate customers on a new product or service.

Pop-up shops are a powerful way to drive footfall and engagement in your store. You may use a pop-up store to help you highlight a promotion or invite an external business to host a pop-up shop to help you attract their customer base to check out what you have to offer. Due to the time-bound nature of pop-ups, they allow you to generate a buzz around your store and leverage positive emotions to grow your brand.

But retailtainment doesn’t have to be outlandish in nature. Sometimes small changes to your approach can help you reap the rewards. This could be anything from providing customers with phone chargers in-store to offering customers tea or coffee while they wait.

Retailtainment Success: Examples

There are countless examples of retailtainment. In fact, you would struggle to find any popular high street without at least a few shops already leveraging this strategy. Here are a few examples for inspiration:

  • Lego in New York

Lego has always been a brand that realized the power of experiences. This can be seen through time with their investment in immersive sites such as LEGOLAND. Their latest retailtainment site is located at the company’s new two-story flagship store in NYC.

At the store, visitors can jump into the world of Lego by visiting a Lego Statue of Liberty, One World Trade skyscraper and Empire State Building. They can also get hands-on with the immersive Brick Lab and the Storytelling Table.

Of course, visitors can also purchase Lego products at the store, but these are not pushed, with the main focus being the experience.

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods in New York

Dick’s Sportings Goods has recently opened their biggest store ever. It is a great example of a brand understanding its customers and offering them a fully immersive, entertaining experience.

At the site, visitors can get active and make use of facilities including a rock climbing wall, golf driving bays and putting greens. It even includes a health-and-wellness shop to help customers feel great after being active.

  • Nike in Guangzhou, China

Nike’s latest concept store ‘Nike Rise’ offers new dimensions to retailtainment. The first of its kind, Nike plans on adding more to the concept in the near future.

Nike Rise focuses on building brand loyalty in a given geographical location. Those who partake in the concept will be sent on a “digitally-enabled” journey which includes everything from weekly sports-minded activations to exclusive access to in-store workshops and events.

  • Apple

A good example of retailtainment that is built into a successful business model is Apple’s chain of retail stores. These stores use two key methods to bring in customers and engage them in a way that few other high street stores do.

The first method they use is offering customers the free use of wifi and Apple devices. This is a simple but effective tool in getting people in and using their products, offering them an opportunity to sell them on the products in a natural way.

Apple also builds in tech support to their stores with Genius Bars. This brings loyal customers into their stores on a regular basis who otherwise may have shopped online.

Retailtainment: Better Experiences

This guide has introduced you to the concept of retailtainment. It has also provided you with insight into why this is such a powerful tool for retail businesses. Use the tips we have highlighted to find great ways to engage and entertain your customers.

Written by POP UP SHOPS - August 12, 2021
Related article: Emerging Trends: Retail Media for Physical Space

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