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‘Micro-Experiences’ a Top Retail Trend for 2020: Expert

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By Robyn Novak

In today’s experience-driven, e-commerce centric economy, retailers must consider micro experiences as part of their strategy in the new year.  Thinking up small-scale activations are the key to engaging consumers while keeping the experience fresh and authentic. In addition, micro experiences are a way to go beyond transactional interactions and build loyal, longstanding relationships with consumers.

Micro experiences can reach consumers in ways an online experience can’t. Consumers become more engaged when brands connect with them on an emotional level, it becomes more than a transaction.

PHOTO: PRINTEMPS, PARIS

Here are four principles for successful micro experiences in 2020 according to retail design firm FRCH NELSON:

Provide an experience that can’t be replicated

Micro experiences must be authentic to the brand for consumers to consider them meaningful. For this reason, retailers should implement micro experiences that are completely unique to them and cannot be replicated by anyone else, or online. American Girl is an iconic brand known for educating and inspiring young girls around the world. They recently partnered with FRCH NELSON to create a Doll Hospital centred on educating girls about healthy habits, caring for themselves, and overall wellness. The Doll Hospital transforms what could be a very emotional process into an experiential destination, bringing girls and their parents in the store to heal their sick dolls, involving and engaging them throughout the whole process. The result is a more loyal customer base and a stronger emotional connection that compliments American Girl’s core values.  

Include elements of personalization and customization

Many new-age brands have figured out how to differentiate themselves in the retail market through personalized products and services, making it necessary for traditional, established brands to reimagine their outdated merchandising strategy and overall in-store experiences. Iconic denim brand Levi’s partnered with FRCH NELSON and digital agency MJD to reimagine their in-store Tailor Shop experience. Customers can bring their Levi’s jeans to the Tailor Shop located within the store and create the perfect custom fit, or even add personal touches like patches, distressing, and more. The Tailor Shop helped transform Levi’s physical footprint from just a place to buy Levi’s to an immersive, connected, omni-channel experience.   

PHOTO: LEVI’S

Engage consumers through the senses

Some of the most pleasant retail experiences involve engaging the senses. It’s what consumers see when they walk into a store, feeling the materials or products on display, a comforting smell, and the music they hear in the background. With e-commerce on the rise, most consumers are making their way into a physical store for an immersive experience.

Established beauty brand L’Occitane accomplishes the engaging, sensorial, immersive micro experience with their New York City Flagship store. The micro experience takes customers on a virtual reality journey in a hot air balloon over their founding city, Provence. Guest’s can also touch and feel products under a “rain shower” sink and be transported to the south of France while sitting under the store’s Mediterranean-inspired olive tree. The overall experience taps into all the senses to make it memorable and engaging.

PHOTO: L’OCCITANE

Scale your experience to fit all types of environments

Micro experiences don’t need to be flashy, extravagant, or over the top. They are an authentic and meaningful extension of the brand and occupy a minimal footprint. They are a smart use of budget because they can be scalable to fit a small footprint and repurposed in all types of environments.

From a Times Square flagship, to a 400 square-foot corner, the “wow” factor of a micro experience is in the details. The impact of American Girl’s Doll Hospital, Levi’s Tailor Shop, and L’Occitane’s virtual reality journey has nothing to do with its size, and yet it leaves loyal shoppers with a lasting impression.

Micro experiences are here to stay and will start dominating the retail industry in 2020. To be successful and make a lasting impression on consumers, they must be authentic, offer customized solutions, engage on an emotional and sensorial level, and fit all types of environments.

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