A Travel~Bag of Retail Experience
It’s time to reclaim the souvenir
Cultural destinations are places to exchange knowledge, stories and conversations. No longer out of sight, out of mind, retail is an integral part of that experience.
We have challenged whether selling oil~based plastic toys at the Natural History Museum London reflects their sustainable message of the power of nature and interrogated assumptions at the Manchester Museum that the cheapest value is always the best value. Retail needs to be connected with the collections and relevant to what you believe in to be successful. Authenticity elevates “Souvenir” to its true meaning as ~ a thing to remember.
Your shopping bag is a walking ‘public billboard’.
We have created and implemented nose~to~tail strategies for new shops from the Glasgow School of Art, which exceeded target by 27% and won the Association of Cultural Enterprises’ Best Product and Best Product Range awards to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, who in 2 months achieved a turnover 60% higher than was previously achieved in a full 12 months of trade.
But it’s about more than economics. It’s about engagement. Retail helps build audiences both near and far, deepening relationships and reputations. Reaching out into new networks, through partnerships with manufacturers, makers and designers, it amplifies what you stand for beyond the building.
Everything starts with an insight.
You need intelligence into shopper motivation and behaviour. What drives them? Who influences them? This intelligence shapes your strategy and drives action. Commercial retail has embraced the science of big data to inform this. For Cultural Retail, it’s not about volume. It’s about the veracity and value of a big insight.
We know what it takes to create destination shops that are an emotional and financial benefit to a brand. You need to be driven by a rigorous analysis performance and the audience to inspire the offer. For example, at Tate, high sales of childrens’ books created a focus on product for children and we tapped into the creativity of the visitor, by exploding the professional art materials market and producing art materials for all.
Emotions drive shopping behaviour
With an average of 3 seconds dwell time per product, you need to capture consumers’ attention with surprise and theatre. The emotional push and pull in shopper decisions is shaped by the whole experience: what, where and how you sell. We knew this as we worked on the evolution of the shop at Kew Gardens. Poor housekeeping and unimaginative visual merchandising were replaced by theatrical ideas inspired by the gardens: to reach to the sky and use the height of the space for display, to bring the outside in and introduce the natural world into the retail space and to play with a sense of scale.
Focus on problem-finding, not problem solving
Start with the question: what makes us unhappy? Create “solutions” to those challenges. By looking at C21st behaviours, product development becomes about more than aesthetics and ‘nice-to-haves’. Instead it is about purpose development. What do we need? How can we design commercial, desirable – pleasurable and beautiful – solutions to what our audiences want and need? Retail development with purpose has been the focus of our work with the Ministry of Culture in Paris. As part of this training programme, four short films were made, interviewing designers about how they translated inspiration into action.