Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Curating Unique Experiences

By Surender Gnanaolivu | October 17, 2017

Online socialization and sharing of experiences has created an age of instant comparison, evaluation and approvals of any life experience at any instant in the lives of the constantly connected consumer. This has pushed brands to seriously look at strategies to stand the test of competitive comparison by creating unique brand experience propositions.

It has been established that the definition of a retail brand is the sum-total of all the personal and real experiences that a consumer has with the brand at its physical space. Retail brands are now endeavouring to deliver what is called a ‘Unique Experience Proposition’ (UExP) for their brands. Retail experience designers are now focussing on different brand attributes that can define and help design the UExP expectation in a store concept. This plays a vital role in clearly defining the physical brand, the store, in four key definitions. The process starts by defining the brand Purpose for being in business. The purpose definition of most mature brands is about addressing some benefit consumer get when using the product. For example, the purpose of a cycle brand could be to ‘make the world a healthier place’ and not about selling cycles. This would play a large role in the design of the entire brand ecosystem. Iconic brands like Apple have done this with great effectivity by defining the purpose in their vision statement and ensuring it is manifested in the brand experience in its famously design simplified environment. This is followed by expressing the brand Persona of the environment which is a very important consideration. Should the physical brand be bold, friendly, fun, consultative? Expressing this persona is important to differentiate and to connect with the consumer and add them to the brand community. The purpose and persona together define the brand’s ‘soul’ in its environment and directs the design of the ‘body’, the store environment. 

Brand are increasingly expected to create as a Place where it’s not just about selling its products offered but to inspire and engage customers and influence them to buy them. This sharply defines the mandate for a differentiated design concept for the physical brand environment. The creative design of the store, digital engagement, circulation and customer convenience design play a key role in humanizing the brand purpose and evoking inspired motivation among brand stake holders (customers and employees) which is known to result in optimal sales. 

Finally, the last but not the least, curating the Presentation plays an important role in catching the attention of and curating meaningful dialogues with customers. This helps them connect with the brand by feeling the brand purpose emotionally and engaging with the store offerings physically. Creative visual merchandising and innovative digital engagement have helped curate unique ways of selling product stories to new and existing customers.

Successful applications of the UExP definitions require for them to be intelligently integrated to create a unique brand experience for the consumers and a differentiated physical brand signature as the store.

Surender has an experience of over two decades in the Indian retail industry in Retail Strategy, Store Design, Planning & Development, Retail Marketing, Visual Merchandising, Roll-out management, Retail Audits, Training, Teaching and Writing. His career encompasses holding of senior positions as Executive Vice President & Head Marketing, Brand Experience, Store Design, Planning & Development at leading retailers like Shoppers Stop, Reliance Retail and Mahindra Retail and also as a senior retail consultant working with leading retailers and brands in India. He is currently a Sr Retail Experience Consultant. 



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