Brand Engagement-Driven Retail

I’ll have a coffee with a side of checks deposited, please.

We’ve recently seen the advent of Capital One Cafes, Saks Fifth Avenue salt rooms, and a new Nordstrom Local that has a wine and juice bar, but no clothing inventory. What are these brands trying to accomplish? Why are they allocating valuable retail space, but not explicitly pushing their product? Two words – brand engagement.

In today’s competitive environment where traditional banks must compete with tech companies like Square and Venmo, and department stores have competition from e-tailers, differentiating your brand in consumers’ minds is paramount.

Additionally, many shoppers today – especially millennials – prefer to pay for experiences over things. Perhaps this shift is caused by social media platforms such as Instagram with its focus on capturing photo-worthy experiences, or perhaps it’s due to a new generational attitude that prizes the experiential over the material. In any case, in order to provide shoppers the experiences they crave and to win share, many brands and retailers are experimenting with a brand-first, experientially-driven approach to selling.

For example, start-ups like Bonobos and Reformation are taking a curated approach to retail that focuses on giving shoppers a personalized experience, with inventory delivered directly to them after they’ve narrowed down their desired style and size. Virgin is an excellent example of a company that decided on their brand personality first—rebellious, creative, irreverent—then followed with a suite of products encompassing everything from music to telco to airlines to space travel.

Traditional companies are now looking to better understand their target customer and address their needs—whether they be for coffee or wellness or wine—and use that to deliver a memorable experience and heighten brand engagement, perhaps then with a side of whatever product they happen to be selling.

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Contributed by: Caroline Wu, Integer Dallas