According to numerous psychological studies, spending money on experiences makes consumers happier than purchasing material goods. Retailers that embrace this change in consumer ideology will push beyond the traditional product and location approach to create unique, in-real-life (IRL) experiences.
Capitalizing on the IRL Mind-Set
Every day, our world grows more and more connected. Social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook Live provide windows into the IRL experiences of others. Whether they’re attending a music festival or sporting event, people document exactly what they’re doing at any moment in the day and amplify their posts with cool filters and geotags.
Unquestionably, we all want to be where the action is, and with each snap or live feed, brands can generate interest on these platforms by evoking the fear of missing out in customers. Free People, for example, uses Snapchat to humanize its apparel brand and entice followers by sharing sneak peeks of soon-to-be-released collections and glimpses into its company culture via employee answers to entertaining questions.
In the same vein, Benefit Cosmetics grows its fan base with its weekly “Tipsy Tricks” broadcast on Facebook Live, where the hosts — slightly under the influence — share advice on trendy makeup applications. Once completed, Live videos can be promoted and reside on the company’s Facebook page.
Creating Real-Life Branding Experiences
Retailers that create real-life experiences to enhance customer engagement will see an uptick in sales while simultaneously building loyalty. To align your products with the kinds of experiences customers crave, it’s important to understand exactly what they're craving. Here’s a recipe that can help you understand consumers more deeply:
1. Incorporate a steady program of events. Considering that nearly 80 percent of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than buying something, retailers need to augment brick-and-mortar offerings with experiences that younger consumers deem worthy of their time. Unique events like meetups with influencers and pop-up sales draw a great deal of interest.
Instead of a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony, create a bigger splash by identifying top influencers in your industry and hiring them to attend. For instance, if you’re in the cosmetics industry, having a YouTube sensation like Bunny Meyer (aka Grav3yardgirl) in attendance at the opening of a new retail location could easily elevate it tenfold.
2. Make displays interactive. Part of the customer experience is engaging with the product. One-of-a-kind, interactive displays and signage seriously up your game.
With the touch of a finger, companies like Adidas are improving in-store experiences with touch-screen shopping tools that inspire customers and influence new merchandise lines. It’s not about loud, busy stores with pulsing music; it’s about creating chill experiences that millennials will happily share with their social networks.
3. Create memorable in-store experiences. In-store retail is no longer a utilitarian experience. Millennials prefer stores where merchandise displays pique their interest. You can’t just display products and prices and expect younger consumers to feel compelled to visit and buy what they need. Compete with the convenience of online shopping by creating in-store experiences that can’t be matched online.
Sephora is a great example of this, doing something as simple as labeling sales associates as “cast members,” creating a “live show” atmosphere when people walk into its stores. Your store also needs the right environment and personnel who can hype the moment and support transactions.
Make your customers’ real-life, in-store experiences count. Material possessions won’t last forever, but engaging interactions will keep them coming back for more.
Kevin Gould is an active angel investor as founder and CEO of Kombo Ventures, and he is an investor and strategic adviser for Beautycon Media, a global community of content creators redefining beauty.
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