Retail & Leisure Sector

Bricks n’ clicks to engaging hearts and minds

Could optimising 'Time' be key to engaging shoppers and pleasure seekers?

It’s hard to find any corner of the economy not buffeted by headwinds and shiny objects (new riches) to pull the industry forward. For a long time popular myth had it that bricks and mortar investments (property and location) was a safe haven in its own right. Well, not without a lot of finessing and market insight.

The convergence of online and offline experiences is creating a highly disruptive and (of course) exciting retail and leisure sector. Today the use of space needs to change to meet the needs of shoppers and pleasure seekers, whose lives ebb and flow through the digital and physical worlds, seeking to optimise Time – maximising productivity and pleasure is the new mantra. This is not the realm of dealmakers. It’s becoming the hallowed ground of strategic consultancy.

And the leisure sector is equally dynamic and arguably interwoven with retail, food and beverage. There’s the sharing-economy knocking on the door. This is disrupting traditional business models in the hospitality, airline and rental space. How relevant will a traditional rental car brand be in a world where an app you might use at home, also enables you to arrive in Stuttgart or LA for a meeting or holiday and walk to a nearby parking bay with an electric Zip-Car. Jump in and go. In minutes. Navigate to your AirBnB luxury pad in the Hollywood Hills.

Sure venerable brands won’t disappear overnight. They offer some peace of mind – for now. However, in the next 10 years it’s predicted that some 25% of journeys will be from shared vehicles. That’s convenience. That’s ubiquity. And eventually we may not even be driving the vehicle. So the driving experience and status card becomes less relevant. The focus shifts to what you can do with that time in that space.

However, consider AirBnB. Appeared from nowhere. They’ve gone for the jugular. Sure the process and value proposition is clear but the killer app is the play for the consumer’s deeply held beliefs, hopes (and fears) about the future and who they are – how we shape our identity. AirBnB has worked out that they’re not offering places to stay – they’re offering the opportunity to know, understand and ‘love’ the world around you – because that’s what makes you, you. When was the last time a car rental brand or airline changed how you see the world and yourself? For this author with lifetime gold membership to a venerable airline, it was a long time ago, if ever. The tendency has been to leverage out-dated notions of status.

It’s against this backdrop of evolving consumer values, technological disruption and convergence in shopping, leisure, food and beverage propositions that we are working with some of the world’s largest players in retail and leisure. We are applying social brand engagement strategies to facilitate our clients’ transition from broker to strategic consultancy, from hospitality business to how the world shapes persona and identity.