The ‘idea graveyard’ is brimming with great concepts and ideas that could have helped brands differentiate in various markets that are at risk of oversaturation.
Retail brands tout their wares in every mall and every commercial area of a city, and are usually lost in the noise marketing campaigns create. Everywhere we look, ads are vying for attention and enticing customers to spend more time on their shopping platforms, be they in-store or online. So what can brands do to stand out?
One of the most exciting big ideas that I have ever worked on was for a retail brand looking to stand out from its competitors by opening a mini food court and entertainment space within the store. The brand had one core goal; move away from the traditional retail experience and offer customers a bigger shopping experience that would keep them coming back, again and again.
The pitch was open, all ideas were welcome, and the limit was the sky. Our team put their best thinking hats on for the occasion and joined heads to develop a concept under the big idea of “Savor the Experience”. The ‘experience’ wasn’t just going to be limited to stepping into the store and stepping out with one or more bags of branded goodies. It was about savoring every single moment spent inside the store.
The brand was literally going to offer something for everyone – and for this reason, different ideas were developed to cater to different age groups and interests. One thing was going to be constant – delicious food. The brand could collaborate with local as well as international chains to offer customers a delightful array of options, from a wide menu of tea, coffee and snacks, to street food and more complex dishes. The space would be a celebration of cuisines from East and West. It would be an island of rest and refreshment from shopping. But that wouldn’t be all. The ‘experience’ would expand into different events and activities, attracting people from around the city.
For a popular TV show’s finale (we were thinking of something along the lines of Game of Thrones), the space could welcome enthusiasts to experience the ending together on a large screen. Friday nights could be karaoke nights for the young at heart. Saturdays and Sundays could be brunch days for family and friends. Weekdays could be relatively quieter days, inviting working individuals to conduct casual work meetings using the in-house Wi-Fi, while sipping cups of tea. Annual art exhibitions could also be held, with a designated wall within the space displaying art pieces. A suggestion box would be placed in-store to note down anything else customers wanted to experience next.
The best thing was that the ‘experience’ was flexible enough to keep evolving, giving people what they wanted to savour at a particular moment. It could have been a free space for all – something like T2F but with the freedom to shop and enjoy food and activities as well.
However, budget cuts and the pandemic had other plans and the idea was shot-down and buried in the ideas graveyard. Maybe someday we will see a local retail brand offering an even bigger and better experience than Selfridges in London, or the Blue Box Cafe at Tiffany & Co. in New York. Until then, we wait patiently.
Bisma Yusufzai is Deputy Manager, Digital Channels, NBP Fund Management Limited.