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MatchesFashion.com: Why retail ‘experience’ is jargon

Creating retail experiences is essential for successful brick and mortar today, but it’s not a silver bullet, explains Jess Christie, chief brand officer of MatchesFashion.com, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

This is a luxury retailer that opened a new physical store in London’s Mayfair last year and hosted more than 100 different events in its first 9 months. If anyone knows what it takes to pull this sort of thing off, it’s Christie. 

“I think everyone should be doing it, but I think the problem is that you can’t just say we’re all going to do experiences, and then say that means we’re going to do loads of ‘in-conversations’ and that’s what an experience is, and then be cookie cutter. You have to really challenge yourself to know what your brand is, who your customer is, and what would engage and inspire them,” she explains.  

Indeed, by not thinking like this, the word ‘experience’ in itself has become almost meaningless, Christie suggests. It’s overused and often without direction – believed by many to be the answer to saving a challenged industry. Which is why we see everything from yoga classes to floristry workshops and ball pits taking over shop windows. 

A recent study shows that one-third of chief marketing officers will dedicate up to 50% of their budgets to experiential marketing over the next five years. The winners will be those who, as suggested by Christie, don’t just think of it as a silver bullet. 

There are of course examples of this truly working in the market. Apple, Nike and Lululemon have all made a name for themselves for their approach. MatchesFashion.com is now taking its strategy on tour around the world. 

Jess Christie, Chief Brand Officer at MatchesFashion.com & Rachel Arthur, co-founder & chief innovation officer at Current Global

Join us for this live conversation with Christie held at a FashMash event in London as we explore her view on all things experiences, as well as what it means to think about personal shopping through the eyes of technology today, and the role content plays in connecting online and offline together.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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Campaigns Retail

Magnum partners with Benefit for interactive pop-up in Shanghai

Magnum hosted a temporary beauty store in partnership with Benefit offering products and experiential activities to celebrate the launch of its new premium flavor range.

Taking place at the Réel Mall in Shanghai the pop-up made use of augmented reality and an interactive LED wall to bring its “Release your Beast” theme to life. A lion, polar bear, leopard and tiger were viewable as 3D characters, which visitors could take pictures with in a photobooth and then share on social media.

At the Benefit Beauty Bar, guests could test the brand’s latest products and book make-up artists. The environment included life-sized Benefit eyebrow pens and giant customized ice-cream installations.

The pop-up had a total of seven zones with a variety of activities. It attracted around 25,000 guests during the time it was open (May 24 to June 9).

Magnum has used the concept of “Release the Beast” in a couple of campaigns. In 2017, it teamed-up with fashion brand Moschino for a film on the theme starring Cara Delevingne and Jeremy Scott. Before that, to launch the Magnum Double ice cream in Singapore, it asked guests to release the beast of their passions in fashion, art, music and taste.

How are you thinking about immersive experiences? Want to learn more about how we worked with Google? The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to hear more.

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Campaigns

Nars promotes new mascara with experiential pop-up

Nars Climax Mascara
Nars Climax mascara

Nars is launching a pop-up space in New York City to celebrate its new mascara, Climax, that takes guests through a peep show-inspired experience.

The pop-up, which is aptly named the “House of Climax”, consists of a series of rooms where visitors will be guided through sensorial moments, including live burlesque performances and interactive rooms. According to the brand, the House aims to represent a ‘world of mystique, intrigue and indulgence’.

While the new mascara will not be available for purchase at the venue, visitors will be gifted a sample on arrival. “This is less of a commercial endeavor and more about an opportunity to engage with our consumers in an environment outside of our stores and counters,”  Barbara Calcagni, president of Nars, told Glossy.

To further promote the event, the brand conducted multiple marketing activities, including hanging-up posters around the city and using the hashtag #NeverFakeIt.

Customers intereste in attending should either apply for a free ticket via a dedicated microsite or DM the brand on Instagram. According to Calcagni, the experience sold out within one week of ticket release, and the brand was expecting 2.000 people on the first night. 

Interactive pop-ups have long been a strategy deployed by fashion and beauty brands to engage with consumers. Recently, however, the concept of pop-ups not selling any product, but rather providing an experience, further emphasise shift in ROI for this kind of experience. Other recently examples include the Maybelline-sponsored room that opened at the new Color Factory in NYC, as well as the Converse One Star Hotel which opened in London earlier this year.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick

Hunter flies giant hot air balloon boot in experiential campaign

Hunter "The Original Flying Boot"
Hunter “The Original Flying Boot”

Hunter has launched its largest ever experiential campaign with “The Original Flying Boot”, which sees a 120-foot wellington boot-shaped hot air balloon fly across the globe.

Setting off from the brand’s birthplace in Scotland, the boot will be appearing at festivals, sporting events, shows and other key outdoor moments across Europe and the US throughout the year.

The boot, which features all of the iconic wellington (or “welly”) boot’s design details, aims to promote the brand’s position as a British export. The balloon will travel down from Scotland to London in July before heading over to Europe, where it will appear at major events in countries like Spain and Belgium. It will eventually make its way to the US to engage with the brand’s largest overseas market.

The campaign is also being supported by a social media element where users are invited to post pictures of the hot air balloon using the #HunterOriginal hashtag for a chance to win Hunter prizes.

Brands are increasingly tapping into outdoor experiential campaigns not only as a way to keep their name front of mind, but create opportunities for earned media. The more aesthetically-pleasing or original the campaign is, the more it is photographed by consumers and shared on social. Similarly this year for Valentine’s Day, British womenswear and accessories label, Anya Hindmarch, released its Chubby Hearts activation where gigantic inflated red hearts – similar to the design of its handbags that season – were scattered across iconic London spots such as Battersea power station and Hyde Park.

Hunter "The Original Flying Boot"
Hunter “The Original Flying Boot”

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Campaigns

Fruit of the Loom releases city-wide stunt for unnoticeable underwear

Fruit of the Loom

Fruit of the Loom has launched a campaign stunt that highlights how light its underwear is by testing how much passersby are paying attention to their surroundings in New York City.

In support of the brand’s new EverLight™ underwear, the brand has created physical installations around the city that blend into the urban setting, purposively designed to be unnoticeable.

Examples included a typical tourist telescope pointed at a brick wall and a small red door reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland that was located so closely to the ground few would notice it. Those who spot the initiative and take the time to stop and look can discover hidden clues leading them to a reward of cash prizes and free underwear.

Those clues include using very small writing to hide behind a large chunk of incoherent sentences, or a larger-than-life QR code that has to be scanned to reveal the location of the prize.

While the brand was not sure what to expect, it was right in its assumption of low noticeability. Of the nine million citizens of New York, only six savvy people have taken the time to engage with the advertising and interpret the clues. The six winners have each taken home $1,851 in cash, which, in another tongue-in-cheek move from the brand, corresponds to the year that it was founded, as well as free EverLight™ underwear.

While the campaign is ongoing, a video released by the brand chronicles not only the reactions of passersby, but tone that implies that the project is as much a social experiment as an advertising stunt.

With a total of 11 installations, and with only six that having been completed, the brand is now encouraging people in New York City to watch out for a poster of a realtor that looks a little bit off, a newspaper ad for a broken printer, and a little red man waving its arms.

This all follows a larger move from Fruit of the Loom for taking a humorous approach to promoting its brand at present. In May this year, it also released a satirical PSA against shiftless selfies, explaining that men were taking their tops off so often because they weren’t wearing the right t-shirts.

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Retail

Barneys and Neiman Marcus embrace new retail experiences

thedropLA@Barneys
thedropLA@Barneys

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.

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Campaigns data digital snippets Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Plastic waste becomes Adidas tees, how Bitcoin went luxury, data to reduce returns

Adidas for Earth Day
Adidas for Earth Day

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past fortnight.

TOP STORIES
  • Adidas created Earth Day soccer jerseys made from ‘upcycled’ plastic ocean waste [AdWeek]
  • How Bitcoin went luxury [Vogue]
  • How retailers are crunching data to cut losses from returns [Glossy]
  • The fashion world after Anna Wintour [NY Times]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Alibaba is becoming a major investor in facial-recognition technology [Quartz]
  • Retail’s adapt-or-die moment: how artificial intelligence is reshaping commerce [CB Insights]
  • Leap Motion’s “virtual wearables” may be the future of computing [Co.Design]
  • Why beauty giants are snapping up technology startups [BoF]
  • Farfetch launches startup accelerator [BoF]
  • LVMH’s Ian Rogers on Station F [WWD]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • The beginner’s guide to how blockchain could change the ethical fashion game [Fashionista]
  • Why brands are under increasing pressure to be transparent about what they believe in [AdWeek]
  • Stella McCartney: ‘Only 1% of clothing is recycled. What are we doing?’ [TheGuardian]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Brandless, the ‘Procter & Gamble for millennials’ startup that sells everything for $3, is launching a pop-up, but you can’t buy anything [Business Insider]
  • Glossier opening permanent retail space in LA [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Two computer-generated influencers are at war right now, and nothing is real anymore [W Magazine]
  • With privacy updates, Instagram upsets influencer economy [BoF]
  • How Vans is shaking up its experiential marketing to get more personal [BrandChannel]
  • Snapchat has launched in-app AR shopping, with Adidas and Coty among the first sellers [TheDrum]
BUSINESS
  • Adidas partners with Lean In to promote equal pay for women [WWD]
  • Gap CEO Art Peck: Big data gives us major advantages over competitors [CNBC]
Categories
Editor's pick product

Hunter opens wet weather pop-up in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal

Hunter's greenhouse pop-up in New York's Grand Central Terminal
Hunter’s greenhouse pop-up in New York’s Grand Central Terminal

Hunter has launched a pop-up greenhouse in the Vanderbilt Hall at New York’s Grand Central Terminal, recreating the misty landscape of the Scottish Highlands.

Created to celebrate the brand’s British heritage, the pop-up is modeled on a traditional glass-roofed design. Visitors entering it are greeted by the atmospheric sound of rain, moss underfoot and an ethereal layer of Scotch mist – a mixture of fog and light rain common in the Scottish Highlands. Inside, they are then able to interact with some of the Hunter Original Core Concept rainwear pieces, including boots and jackets, in the environment they were designed for.

“Combining our pioneering Scottish heritage with a contemporary and playful approach to rainwear, we have built an immersive environment for the customer that we hope will transport them back to our roots,” says the brand’s creative director, Alasdhair Willis. “We wanted to celebrate Hunter’s relationship with wet weather essentials by bringing a piece of our British heritage to an iconic location in New York. The authenticity, values and versatility of the collection is what has made it such a success to date and we want to showcase that – we’ve harnessed new materials from lightweight rubber to fully showerproof cotton and developed a seasonless, unisex collection that challenges the standard connotations of rain.”

The pop-up is an extension of Hunter’s commitment to continually engage with its biggest market: the US. It will be open from Sunday, October 22 until Wednesday, October 25.