In the era of fast fashion, food, and people, the needs of the consumer market are ever-shifting. What’s trendy today is gaudy and ancient tomorrow. Staying ahead of such fickle needs is a gargantuan challenge in itself but it is a challenge that brands must stay yards and lightyears ahead of. And, in this rush, luxury brands are slowly but surely changing the idea of the boutique itself, combining eccentricity with class, offering up not a product but an experience itself to its enthusiasts.
Why are Brands Looking into Concept Stores?
When it comes to the luxury industry, lavishness is no more the operative word. As entire industries continue to go digital, scurrying to fit into the palms of its clientele, physical stores are striving to answer one question that is altering the face of the industry completely – What do you have to offer to the user that they cannot discover inside their screens from the comfort of their own homes? The answer and the keyword for the luxury industry, thus, hones in on but one word: Experience. It is no more enough to just proffer to the peruser just a product. As the act of shopping itself becomes a sojourners escapade of sorts, brands are offering up stories that add value and move beyond the four walls of a physical store, often leveraging the proliferation of portable digital devices to their own advantage. The spaces this creates are no more just stores, but concepts that add value to the customer experience, skilfully combining imagination with the knowledge of their targeted demographic to give us whimsical spaces that do not limit lavishness and elegance to just their products, but to the ambiance itself.
Combating monotony with whimsy
The answer to the market’s whimsy has never been a single silver bullet. A patron is ever fanciful and monotony is easy to slip in. Various brands choose to combat this demon in their own ways.
Design and Digitize
A lot of brands have taken what spelled doom for most physical stores and made it their infallible weapon. By leveraging technology, they let their brand move beyond the physical aspects of the store. A fashion brand in the US, Ministry of Supply, for example, combines personalization with technology by using a knitting machine that works with 3D tech to create the customer’s order in front of their very eyes.
Other than Ministry of Supply, a lot of other brands have chosen to focus on a personalised experience to create moments that can never be recreated on a digital screen. While some boutiques and Avant-Garde restaurants maintain files about returning patrons so they may serve them better, other brands like Nestle take into account the local demographic before offering something like the KitKat chocolatery in Tokyo that caters to the fancies of the crowd with sakura and bitter green tea flavored chocolates.
Bizarre yet Beautiful
While some personalize and others digitize, some seek to astonish, using peculiar designs, stories, and histories to add to the physical aspects of the space. 33 New Road in London, for example, offers one such strangely delightful experience in the form of a three-story curated store that is also a residence that can be booked. Shopping, thus, turns into a vacation, one whose souvenirs you can collect from among the exquisites on sale in the store itself.
Nike Case Study
When brands across the world run the extra mile to add value to customer experience, can Nike be far behind? The sports brand has chosen to tackle diversity with variety by experimenting with the concept of retail itself. While its New York store features running simulations and mini basketball in a store designed after a gym, its London space is lab dabbling in high fashion and couture collaborations.
It is a truth well-acknowledged that, while physical spaces still hold the charm for some, it is perhaps the need of the hour to move beyond that and offer to one’s visitors what they cannot glean from their couches at home. Brands all over the world are continuing to take this very idea into account, while learning to move beyond the physical realms to give to its customer an experience truly luxurious in essence, one boutique, one concept and one marvel at a time