You’re humming it already aren’t you? Because it’s actually impossible to see those words written anywhere and not start thinking about Olivia Newton John in spandex. But this isn’t about her or her tight lycra, it’s about getting physical and that she was probably right all along.
Because in this age of digital marketing, social media and online retail giants, we’ve forgotten all about the importance of the physical retail experience. The significance of store journeys and the delight of immersing yourself in something. Of sight, sound and feel. We’ve become so overtaken with our obsession with the internet and mobile, that we forgot to take ourselves out of people’s pockets.
Which is not to say that those things aren’t important, OF COURSE they are and they mustn’t be neglected. Omnichannel, website design, apps and social strategies will forever play a huge part in the marketing experience for brands, but in-store experience is timeless and is often the difference between good brands, and global superstar brands.
Talking about why Apple retail has become so successful, exec Ron Johnson pointed out that Apple ‘built an experience where 90 percent of the people who walk in don’t buy anything right away. People listen to music, kids play on iPads.’ Their experience has come first, before rushing consumers to a point of sale. They built an experience that was second to none, and then the sales came afterwards. And by sales we basically mean world domination.
Because the best brands out there aren’t just offering friendly sales people and good lighting, they’re giving their customers a feeling. A real, tangible emotion that often evokes happiness, joy, nostalgia or love. And in a highly emotional world that is looking for connection, being able to offer feelings transcends anything the best website could ever give you.
Physical stores also make sales. Of course, the notion of online businesses making more money because of low overheads has been peddled for some time, and yes, it’s a fair argument. Physical spaces account for a large part of your budget and the rent is generally enough to make you gasp, let alone the bills and the staff you need to pay, but they also make a lot of money. They do what online often fails to do, and that’s introducing new concepts and products to the customer. With the click of a button customers can disregard online popups and suggestions, and habit often has us clicking that button before we’ve even read the pop up. But physical spaces nurture consumers and in the flesh when they really get to see the advantages of other products, they’re more likely to make a purchase.
This doesn’t mean that agencies need to start advising brands to cut their marketing budget, but instead should be looking at how they create an in-store experience that is exceptional. What marketing do you put in store to convince customers to buy and how can you create meaningful relationships with those customers. That’s what agencies need to be looking at.
The digital stuff is always great, but it needs to be supporting other sales channels instead of shouldering all the sales responsibility. Because physical spaces cultivate relationships, increase brand loyalty and offer an ultimate experience that can bring brands to life and that will always trump any social media campaign or well-designed website.