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A
Z
Connecting people and places
Current
2020
list Article list

Connecting people and places

Posted 19.12.2019
By Jeff Kindleysides

Connecting people and places

An undeniable desire to re-identify and reconnect with what it means to be human is driving heightened consumer demand for tactile interaction, sensory stimulation and social experiences. This socioeconomic shift is influencing new re-engagement strategies by urban planners, shopping centre developers and global retailers.

At the start of this decade, Accenture predicted that the next five years would bring “more change than retail has seen in the last 100 years.” Now, in the midst of this unprecedented evolution, what are the fundamental changes driving the new rules of modern retail?

Undeniably, all categories have seen major disruption from online challenger brands, new ownership models and the experience economy, all of which have redefined consumption. Legacy brands that have failed to adapt or innovate during this time have become victims of the heavily publicised ‘retail apocalypse’. On top of this we have also seen a plethora of ‘fail fast, fail often’ digital experimentation, widespread bandwagon tactics diluting ideas almost as quickly as they emerge, and more strategic retail portfolios, with fewer stores offering diversified experiences as opposed to globalised rollouts.

So while there has been noticeable change and disruption, looking forward there are growing calls for retailers to be even braver with their physical brand spaces and digital ecosystems. The future of retail is a complex mix of ingredients, but one thing is certain: branded spaces must offer more than a traditional transaction. Look at progressive brands like The Conservatory at the recently opened Hudson Yards in New York, which foregoes transactions and inventory completely, focusing instead on discovery and inspiration with a ‘try not buy’ strategy; or ACNE’s Project Store in Shibuya, which amplifies the transactional experience, changing the entire interior aesthetic and experience with each new product drop. Both of these concepts demonstrate approaches that nurture far deeper emotional connections with consumers by going beyond the transactional relationship.

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Nixon, Bondi Beach, Sydney

Spaces to engage people and places

The evolution of permanent retail spaces beyond a place to purely hold and distribute product demonstrates a clear opportunity for these spaces to be repurposed, providing greater meaning in people’s lives.

Brand spaces can and should play a vital role within our communities, connecting people and places to build a sense of belonging and human connection that can’t be replicated online. Taking up the mantle as facilitators of social engagement, brands can utilise new and existing spaces to address the isolation and disconnect felt in our digital age, picking up where public services and local governments have fallen short.

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Warehouse concept, London

The future of retail

Retail is witnessing unparalleled and accelerated levels of change, but there has and will always be a need to evolve and keep pace with shifts in culture, technology and economics. However, the possibilities change presents for brands, developers and their creative collaborators to reimagine the future is limitless. Even the smallest of retail spaces with the most purposeful and resonant experience can become the most impactful of places.

This post was extracted from Exchange, Make’s thought leadership series which explores some of the challenges and trends that the property industry is encountering. Issue No. 2 looks at retail and is available to download.