From Retrospective to Retroactive

MArch research into book and beyond

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    I Was There

    Christopher Perrodin
    Nov 27, '15 5:27 PM EST

    With online commerce, the need for store locations has become weakened.  Now more than ever, it is critical that stores create a tactile, visceral experience of the brand. 

    The near future will help personalize the in-store experience with sales and advertisements based on personal shopping and search history.  With the excess of amount of personal data generated, we may one day see targeted, personal, sales which appear when in close proximity or prolonged time with a particular retail item.  This kind of data-to-enticement exchange demonstrates a 21st Century bargaining.

    Even then, would all the sales in the world be able to beat online shopping?  In order to further encourage customers into retail stores, the products being sold can take on another layer of meaning with a specific time and place.

    To give depth, stores learn from iconic cities, tourist attractions and events.  All three offer opportunities to say "I was there." 

    "I didn't get this from online.  I got it directly from the store."

    How might that happen?  We already see signs of it in the fitting room mirror.  Encouraging people to take photos of themselves wearing clothes from that store is absolutely brilliant.  It's so smart it seems obvious, making a slam dunk seem like a layup.  Take the model and the controlled images out of the equation.  Let the people promote, display and disseminate the information themselves, just from their own enthusiasm.  

    To increase the store's value, perhaps we can see regional or local selections and product lines.  Along side national and international items sold all over the world, we see Mid-West, SoCal, or Southern selections. The idea here is that a brand acknowledges and takes pride of the place they're located.  It says "yes we are a global brand, but we are not so big that we cannot be specific.  We know you and we think you might like this."  Something similar to this idea has been popping up with city or store specific hashtags and city name branding from Zara.

    Another iteration may have to do with the nature of making.  To drive home the idea of "I was there," stores could have in-store manufactured clothing.  Depending on how far a store is willing to go, we could see a person who usually makes the brand's clothing in another country, instead make clothes in that particular store.  This could be a chance for sales associates and customers to really understand what it is they are doing when they buy clothes.  At the very least, seeing the original maker of the clothes I wear would give me a direct understanding of what a global market actually means.  

    After the clothing is made, it is inventoried, tagged, and placed right on the rack.  It would give new meaning to the "Made in _____" symbol.  Instead of a country, we see "Made on November, 27th 2015 in the Men's Department, In Levi's, 1501 Broadway, NYC, NY USA"

    Consider also bringing the customer into the process.  Creating a loose and adaptive line of clothing, "Making Sessions" would allow the customer to create their own pants and shirts.  These items bearing the brand's logo, would go from being an enjoyable purchase to being the most prized item in their collection.  Just like that, the customer is not only grateful for the experience, she is now more sophisticated about clothing manufacturing, educated about the brand, and empowered by her actions.  It neatly ties together the desire for homegrown/local and the familiar, rewarding experience of guided making made popular by IKEA.

    "I was there" is short-hand for an embedded memory.  It is a memory tied to and reinforced by the brand.  Memory and experiences are carried around with us for life.  The more positive and rewarding the experience a brand can make, the more likely it will have life long customers.

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About this Blog

I will chronicle my design research and degree project, providing commentary on my thought process at the time. From there, I will transform the body of work into a book which seeks to place into dialogue the two (currently) separated semesters of work.

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