Sweet summer retail strategies

With summer just around the corner and consumers planning those much-needed vacations, brands should be preparing to make the most of retail experiences that consumers will be encountering on boardwalks, in theme parks and at tourist destinations across America.

There are five key principles to keep in mind when planning your retail experience — interestingly, they’re also perfect tips for planning a great vacation. In no particular order, you want to: 1) make it fun; 2) provide great memories; 3) make it mean something; 4) make it exclusive; and 5) tell a story.

If you build your experience around one or more of these principles, you will not only build equity for your brand, but jumpstart onsite transactions, which oftentimes serve as souvenirs.

Here are some stellar examples of successful retail for each principle below. Follow any of these winning formulas and you’re sure to find your brand memorialized in those end of summer essays on how consumers spent their summer vacation.

1.      Fun: Madewell’s Denim Shop: You want to move product but your main goal should to be entertain the guests in your brand’s retail home. One recent campaign for this clothing store placed it in a vintage trailer on a U.S. road trip. Consumers could shop, get their hair braided and check out the denim bar — all within the kitschy and fun airstream.

2.      Make memories: Nike Bowery Stadium: Onsite customization of branded apparel allows consumers to keep a personal memento of their experience at your store — turning merchandise into a one-of a kind keepsake. Through this collaborative creative process, consumers feel a much deeper connection to the brand and their purchases.

3.      Make it mean something: The Generous Store: This Copenhagen pop-up store allowed consumers to purchase Anthon Berg chocolates with good deeds. Consumers committed to doing a good deed on Facebook or through in-store iPads. One example: to “serve your loved one breakfast in bed.” Each good deed had a dollar value redeemable for store merchandise. It was personal, it meant something and it was all over social media. This is smart marketing.

4.      Make it exclusive: Doughnut Vault in Chicago: This tiny bakery housed in an old bank vault closes for business each day after the last doughnut is sold, making its sweet confections somewhat of a badge of honor if you can arrive in time to get them. By making sport of getting in line early, the brand successfully plays hard-to-get and saves costs on manpower. Talk about a win-win!

5.      Tell a story: The Startup Store: Take a cue from Rachel Shectman who started this New York City-based retail marketing experience that has a point-of-view like a magazine, curates like a gallery and sells like a store. The store reinvents itself every four to six weeks and brands opt in to sponsor and sell as part of the ever-changing exhibit.

Charlie Horsey is president and CEO of MKTG INC.

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