Retail has had its fair share of economic difficulties over the past two years due to various obstacles; rising rent, increased business rates, consumers moving to online shopping and then the huge financial catastrophe that the various lockdowns caused during the pandemic.
The pandemic has seen the largest drop in retail revenue for 50 years and had the largest knock-on effect because of the various store lockdowns. This, coupled inevitably with Brexit price increases from international brands fashion brands took a huge hit. According to Brand Finance, in 2021, the value of the Top 150 had fallen by £30 billion so it has been time to re-invent our way of engaging with the consumer in 2022.
The severe impact on the industry prompted many insiders to declare that this was the ideal time for fashion to reset itself. Designers were using this moment to increase their investment in selling products online and connecting with customers more directly.
There was a marked shift to e-commerce, with big increases in online sales and many brandsmoving their model to digital spaces.
When stores started to re-open, there were indicators that there was a move towards localism, where shoppers were happy to shop locally rather than travel into the major cities to shop and brands were having to re-think how they can increase their exposure online and help consumers to visualise their worth; through social media platforms, channel sales through their online shops and then create excitement around their Brand so the consumer ‘buys’ into their Brand’s DNA once reopened.
Consumers have also become more aware of their part in preserving their environment; ethical sourcing and trading playing a huge part in this, and we have seen a huge shift of Brands sharing their sustainable ethics more so than ever before.
We have also seen a positive shift in consumer thinking which has increased the demand for Brands to step up in terms of experiential retailing.
Concrete London showcasing at Platform, St Christophers Place in March 2022
So, what is Experiential retail? It is an immersive and shareable experience where the Brand invites the consumer to absorb the DNA of their brand, understand their ‘Why’ and embrace their product and lifestyle. Because experiential stores offer more than just products, they immerse consumers in a brand, a culture, and showcases what makes it unique.
Concrete London exhibiting at Oxo Tower in December 2021
Pop up stores, in store events and discussions are great examples of experiential retailing. Concrete London as an example, has found great benefit in experiential retailing by being able to engage with the consumer, telling the story of the brand; its ethical and everlasting qualities as well as meet the designers. We found that consumers loved the idea of the designer being available in store so they can hear their story; it is so key to creating your story around the Brand. What is also vitally important is hearing feedback on your brand directly from the consumer.
Angela Blundell, owner of Concrete London, believes that, since their launch in Fall 2021, pop ups are a great way to introduce up and coming brands to consumers and whilst it still may be difficult to launch in retail stores around the country due to the aftereffects of the pandemic, this is a great way to expose your brand to new shoppers, supported with social media boost and links to your website.
Location is very key when deciding on where to site your pop up as each brand needs to know who their target consumer is in terms of price point, product, and storyline. Having the designers present in the store is also important so the consumer can see they are getting added value by engaging in their story and their ‘why’ of creating the Brand. Creating pop ups as a ‘one-stop’ shop is important so the shopper can purchase whole outfits, including jewellery bags al under one roof.
Concrete London are looking for more locations in London over the next couple of months so watch this space and come and visit!