The idea that consumers require more than just product to drive them into department stores in the current retail climate, is being heavily backed by the likes of Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus of late.
Both have recently launched experience-led pop-ups, designed to drive customer engagement, create hype via social media and ultimately translate visitors into purchasers.
While the two department stores differ in their approach, the aim for both is clearly driven by their realization that modern consumers require more than one-off events to continuously drive footfall and conversion.
In the spirit of thinking outside the box, Barneys New York has launched a strategy inspired by streetwear’s “drop” culture and how to build hype back into retail. The initiative launched in October 2017, but it has recently matured into a two-day event titled thedropLA@Barneys, where the retailer once again teamed up with media publisher Highsnobiety to offer over 90+ brands and 20+ exclusive partnerships with streetwear-meets-luxury designers, as well as to host designer appearances and immersive installations.
Spread across five floors, the event was attended by 12,000 people and saw a 50% uplift in sales compared to the same weekend in 2017.
Neiman Marcus is similarly translating its new strategy with the “Idea Factory” concept, which launched with a variety of in-store activities that aim to bring customers and creatives together through one-off services such as product personalization and classes. The event is happening over the next two weeks in five stores across the US.
These installations are supposed to only be the beginning for a series of initiatives, with phase two anticipated in September. For the second instalment, the retailer is looking at concepts in epicure, food & beverage, travel, wellness and social consciousness, in a bid to become more culturally relevant, says Ed Burstell, Neiman Marcus’ SVP of product innovation
The new approach shows that ultimately, the future of retail, particularly when it comes to multibrand stores, depends on embracing the values of the younger consumers, as their high spending power can’t be denied, says Jeff Carvalho, managing director of Highsnobiety.