The secret to branding success is to give consumers more than what they’d expect to receive when it comes to customer service, quality and brand experience.
Retail brands have an opportunity to build strong and lasting relationships with their customers by creating experiences that are relevant, intimate, and fun.
In the retail market the emphasis has shifted from the retailer having all of the control, setting the price and receiving payment for ‘stuff’ that people need. Gone are the days when consumers could only shop when the stores were open, buy what the retailer had on the shelves and pay the price that was stated.
In today’s society, it’s the customer who is in control. They have more than the physical shop to purchase from – they have online as well, where they can shop the world from right within their living room or on the train on their way back from work. Whether it’s in store, on their mobile, tablet or social, consumers want an experience, not just a transaction.
Added to that, they want a personalised experience, one that will engage, delight and connect them to the brand. And as they have access to buy from whomever, whenever – they are the ones calling the shots.
In today’s society where shoppers are fickle, impatient and incredibly savvy, consumers are now seeking out experiences that make them happy and assist with their wellbeing rather than simply making a transaction. This is where brand experience becomes essential.
7 Ways on how to create an engaging retail brand experience
Simply having a walk-in store is no longer enough to create a full brand experience for your customers. Gone are 9-5 Monday to Friday work days. We work all hours and shifts, which means that as a retailer you need to cater for so many more shopping habits. It is becoming critical that a mere bricks and mortar shop is reflected online in an experience that consumers can enjoy 24/7. Added to that, if you do not exist on Google you do not exist in the eye of the consumer. In saying that, there is nothing quite like walking into a beautifully styled store where you can touch, smell, taste or experience a product. Many online stores, such as Etsy, have realised this and now have pop up stores that operate at key times of the year such as Christmas or Mothers Day. Make sure that you combine a brick and click approach to your brand experience.
2. Know your market
Understanding who your market is, is critical in creating a brand experience that will speak directly to them. As retailers, you may have a few target markets so you need to intimately know your products and who will buy them or use them to know what kind of experience you want to create. Men process things different to women so if your audience includes both, you will need to think about how you will engage each market differently, yet still get a result where they feel that they have had an experience rather than just a transaction. Look at who buys from you now, how often, is it for them or for someone else? How can you make them remember your brand, engage them further and turn them into loyal clients? Do you have a loyalty program you can invite them to? What about a mailing list to give them exclusive offers or VIP shopping experiences? There are so many options at our disposal.
3. Use your senses
Traditional bricks and mortar retailers have an advantage over online sellers when it comes to creating a more personalised experience. By tapping into the 5 senses, the experience becomes real, physically connecting the customer to the brand. As this experience is far more personal than any online experience ever will be, so it’s important as a retailer to leverage off this as much as possible. Play music, light candles, have taste tests, encourage your customers to touch and feel the products. From an online point of view, utilise media such as video or photography to capture a feeling rather than just a product.
4. Emotional connection
Brands need to create an emotional connection to the customer, one that is meaningful and engaging. Understanding your ‘why’ is critical in sparking this connection. Social enterprise brand ThankYou has built an entire business on the fact that 100% of their profits go toward water projects in developing areas. Now people can buy bottled water consciously knowing that part of their payment goes directly to helping those less fortunate than us. Their website and social media are extremely emotive in a way that makes us realise just how lucky we are to be able to turn on a tap and drink the water that we have readily available, yet we purchase bottled water each and everyday. Whether they buy it through one of the many distributors or purchase it online through the ThankYou website, the company make it easy to access all of their products no matter what the time of day.
Inspiring your customers to purchase or interact with your brand is a wonderful way to retain longterm clients. Investing in amazing imagery that evokes and emotion or a desire within the consumer will get them thinking of you at time of purchase and will more likely result in customers sharing your brand than if you leave them uninspired.
6. Create happiness
Unless it’s a begrudged purchase, most people’s endorphins kick in during the shopping process and we feel good about it. The challenge for retailers is to heighten this sense of happiness. One fantastic way to increase happiness is to focus on your packaging. This could be a gorgeous bag to proudly walk around the shops with where your brand is being spread by shoppers on your behalf (think Boost Juice cups) or gorgeous boxes that your products are delivered in with tissue paper, ribbon, even confetti, that turn the arrival of the product into an experience when opening. Why is it that most people that buy Apple products keep the boxes while other brand packaging gets thrown out? The truth is that there is so much that is at your disposal to put a smile on your customers face, that there really isn’t an excuse not to.
7. Leverage off social currency
Social media is playing an ever increasing roll in brand experience as retailers realise how much downtime their target audience is spending in this space. If you can reach your market through social currency rather than actual currency, you’ll achieve a much greater return on investment. People sharing experiences online of what they are eating, doing, seeing or experiencing. This kind of online endorsement can make or break a business. The reality is that we only share what is incredibly good or incredibly bad! We want people to marvel at how wonderful our lives are or be as incensed as we are if thing are not the way that we want it. Retailers who know and understand their customer can leverage off this social currency buy encouraging their customers to post their products or experiences on social media. After all, it’s far better when other people talk about us than when we talk about ourselves (when it’s good that is).
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Make your brand truly memorable. Learn the exact steps you need to take to create a brand experience by signing up to the Brand Magic Masterclass.
Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker