HIGH STREET FASHION BRAND. HOTELS NEAR FASHION SHOW MALL
Perhaps it would be an understatement to say that conditions on British high street
s at present are less than favourable. Aside from the skyrocketing costs of production, companies are now having to come to terms with the tightened purse strings of millions of customers as the country at large attempts to cope with austerity measures. Not only this, online shopping is wholly in vogue because, quite simply, it is far easier than trawling through shopping districts for hours on end. As Peter Cross, business partner of the Queen of Shops Mary Portas, has said: "Offline shops have realised they have to do something else other than simply sell you stuff."
In the past few weeks alone TJ Hughes, Jane Norman, Habitat and Thorntons have each fallen victim to the gloom surrounding the high streets nationwide, and things are certainly not about to get any easier. However, there is something of a beacon of hope for the retail industry and consumers alike. Stores are beginning to grasp the concept of 'retailtainment', a term coined by an American sociologist in the late 1990's which, simply put, encapsulates the theory that retailers are going to have to put emphasis on “sound, ambience, emotion and activity” to tempt the customers into physical stores so that they may be seduced into the idea of parting with their hard earned cash.
One of the pioneers of retailtainment is the Disney Store. This is a famed destination for shoppers on the lookout for an "experience" as well as brand
ed merchandise, a requirement that is met with gusto. Upon entering the Oxford Street branch of the monolithic toy chain the customer is met with a huge, glittery staircase with a towering castle looming above with turrets that Rapunzel herself would not look out of place on. Deeper inside the store the customer has no choice but to feast their eyes on sparkling Mickey Mouse sculptures, chandeliers right out of a scene from Beauty and the Beast and endless fairy costumes for small girls who wish to recreate the magic that the Disney Store exhibits. According to Jonathan Storey, who has worked at Disney for 19 years and is now the marketing and guest experiences director of the London store, the Disney Store is "one hundred percent about the entertainment and that has been the driving factor that sets this store aside from any other retailer."
American brands are undoubtedly leading the way with retailtainment, not only with the Disney store but also Nike Town, where customers can construct their own tailor made shoe on a gleaming Apple Mac, and the Regent Street branch of lifestyle and fashion brand Anthropologie which boasts a living wall of green plants irrigated by rainwater collected on the roof. Abercrombie & Fitch are also a front-runner with their own particular brand of retailtainment where half-naked dancers greet customers whilst booming music helps to construct an immersive shopping experience which is as far from boring as a store can hope to get.
As customers find themselves increasingly unable to spend money on a whim, retailers have to add another weapon to their arsenal which tempts shoppers away from the lack of stimulation that the internet offers, away from the lackluster service and plain surroundings that many stores on British high streets have on offer. Retailtainment offers an exciting alternative to the “typical” shopping experience in which the customer goes in empty handed and comes out with an item or two. Instead, when retailtainment is put into practice, the customer is treated to sights, sounds and service way beyond their expectations and thus leave enriched, happier and far more likely to return. As Storey put it: “We wanted [the Disney Store] to be a place that you went and got this amazing experience, whether you had any need to buy a Disney product or not...Why would you just not go somewhere that just gives you joy?”