From Retrospective to Retroactive

MArch research into book and beyond

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    "Mixed Use"

    Christopher Perrodin
    Nov 20, '15 7:15 PM EST

    Shopping can literally happen anywhere.  While SkyMall may have been a bit too much too soon, it is not uncommon now for people to spend time shopping between the opening and headlining acts at a concert.  Retail stores cannot continue with business as usual, only focusing on a maximum capacity of items per square foot.  

    Much has been said of the decline of retail stores because of online shopping. Yet instead of seeing digital commerce as the death knell, we should view it as the retail store's liberator.  Freed from the need of all sales to go through their physical stores, another layering of program can take place.  So called "brick and mortar" stores are now places for events.

    An athletic store not only has small simulated playing fields and courts, but the program is expanded to host games and tournaments.  It is not only a place for athletic gear; it is a gym; it is a stadium.  Most importantly, it is a community built around a common interest.  And this community can share in an activity, trade tips and advice, and see their potential purchase live and direct.

    Brands implying coastal leisure could give away sailing lessons in a raffle to customers.  Perhaps wine and paint?  Maybe poetry reading sessions?  

    Already Banana Republic displays Instagram posts built around a theme.   But can this be pushed more?  Could J Crew have a photo contest and display winning entries on both the exterior and interior?  Could this be a continuously changing gallery?  A video contest to be projected on mannequins in-store?  In this way, people are not only taking from a brand, they are interacting and contributing to it.  The more shared ownership a person feels, the more personally connected they are.

    And for more conservative and traditional brands, could we see political and policy debates being conducted?  Invites to estate sales?  What else might brands do to make their physical stores into places to be, meet, and go out together?

    A layered retail program is not far off.  If a brand already has a healthy in-store, online, email/communication network set up (omnichannel), the next step is to relax the push for in-store purchases and to grow in-store dwelling.  Ultimately people want to feel a sense of belonging.  Creating that place and fulfilling that need is mutually beneficial to both the brand and the customer.

    When trying to imagine this new paradigm, we can look to Urban Outfitters as an example.  Not only was it one of the first stores to include a photo booth, but it also hosts free concerts with complimentary PBR.  It has a very clear understanding about a layered physical location and its embodied ideals.

    The future success of brands will still be measured by sales, but it will prosper by the memories created.

    • 1 Comment

    • To wit, see the NYT re: the move towards storefronts as "community outpost" and lifestyle centers. A place not just for shopping, but community meetings, shows or "just hanging out."

      Nov 29, 15 10:29 pm  · 

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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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