Brand Strategy Enables Experiential Retail

October 25, 2018

Brand Strategy Enables Experiential Retail

By Jeff Cohn

In a few weeks, nearly 40,000 deal-making real estate professionals will flood the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center at the world’s largest retail real estate convention: RECon 2020.

It’s a caffeine-powered marathon of meetings, dinners, lectures, coffee dates, and miles of convention hall steps on your Fitbit.

I’ve been going to RECon for over 20 years, and the industry has changed immensely during that time.

I’ve watched the giant malls of the 1980s slowly transition to open-air lifestyle centers. I’ve seen grocery-anchored centers adapt and become more diversified than ever. And I’ve experienced (pun intended) firsthand the shift in the way retail centers and retailers talk about the shopper experience.

In 2018, it’s all about “experiential retail.”

And as I prepare myself for dozens (possibly hundreds) of conversations about the power and importance of “experiential retail” at this year’s RECon, it occurred to me that experiential retail can’t really flourish without brand first. Here’s what I mean.

How Brand Enables Experiences

I’ve dedicated most of my career to two things: retail real estate and brand development. I founded COHN in 2000 to marry those two ideas, and our agency has thrived for the last 18 years by helping companies (probably just like yours) find their brand distinction and develop marketing strategies to bring that brand to life through activation and customer experience.

This applies to consumer brand experiences and corporate (B2B) brand experiences from a leasing and management perspective.

It strikes me that now, almost two decades after launching our brand-driven agency, the industry has finally embraced the power of the customer experience. We, in the retail world, must create and enable a customer experience that’s worth coming back to. It can’t only be about the product. It has to be about the feeling you evoke during those customer interactions.

And, of course, every interaction matters.

Experiential Retail Requires Brand

So before you get started on creating “experiential retail” at your shopping center or retail storefront (or any destination, really), it would behoove you to first think about what experience you want them to have.

  • How should your customer experience your center or store?
  • What emotions do you want to evoke?
  • How will those emotions differ from your competitors?
  • How can the shopper experience be enhanced through your brand?
  • Does the experience change over time?
  • How do you continue to nurture and evolve their experience with your brand?

You see, it always comes back to brand, and that’s why we at COHN start there.

Let’s work together to define your brand distinction so that you are able to actually able to create a brand-driven retail experience for your customer.

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