Retail & Leisure

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 or shiny objects (new digital platforms) to keep the momentum moving forward. The retail and leisure sectors are no exception. 

The convergence of online and offline experiences is creating a highly disruptive and (of course) exciting retail and leisure sector. We are witnessing the premiumisation of these sectors. We're seeing the boundaries between retail and leisure blur. Online brands are entering the physical space with a high street presence that's different. For example, Amazon's Wholefoods stores, which no longer have check-outs.  And the highstreet and mall retailers have entered the virtual. 

Today, retail has to meet the needs of shoppers, pleasure seekers and workers, whose lives ebb and flow through the digital and physical worlds, as they seek to optimise Time. Maximising productivity and pleasure is the new mantra. Merchandisers have handed the baton to the curators of unique experiences.  Retail and leisure is becoming the hallowed ground of strategic consultancy and creative thinking.

For example in the leisure space, take hotels and hospitality: new entrants, like AirBnB, have appeared from nowhere. On a wave technologies and changes in consumer behavior they scaled up globally. Package holidays, hotels and hospitality companies, have all been disrupted.

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. They've tapped into how consumers see themselves. They've tapped into the consumer's very sense of identity. When was the last time a hotel or travel brand changed how you see yourself? The tendency has been for these brands to leverage out-dated notions of status. 

And true, there is a trend towards premiumisation. However, the concepts and values that define luxury are deceptive. It's less about status and instead connected to how the brand enriches life, self-awareness and social capital. 

It’s against this backdrop of technological disruption and changing consumer values around what luxury means, and the importance of enriching experiences, that retail and leisure propositions are evolving. Our work in this space is primarily with the commercial property groups and urban development associations seeking to reinvent their portfolios and neighbourhoods. Thought-leader summits and trade shows are being used to convey a more strategic and creative approach to retail and leisure development, anchored around unique experiences. 

Further reading