Ralph Lauren would not have thought while opening his first flagship store way back in 1986 that he is sparking a trend called ‘concept stores’. We are living in 2012 when concept stores have become a phenomenon. You go to pubs, restaurants, fashion outlets or even motor accessory shops, a theme based interior have inspired them all.
Yet another marketing strategy
Most of these brands assume that after all touching and feeling, customers will be willing to spend more money. The consumers visiting these stores are mostly with deep pockets and if impressed do not hesitate to shell out big bucks.
Balaji Natarajan, Head of Store design, Titan, explained, “These stores are in pace with the latest technology and happenings, thus they connect to the consumers. This connection that they develop with their customers make the sales increase manifold. May not be on the same day but even in the coming days, the customers want to check the same store again”. Most of these stores, unlike the old day stores have a lot of space to hang around and feel engaged. More time they spend, more purchase is often the result. Bridgestone Tyres have come up with many concept stores across India which started in Pune. When asked about it being a marketing strategy, Vaibhav Saraf, Genral Manager, Bridgestone India Pvt Ltd. Said,”Yes it is. These Concept Stores have made past the days when people were reluctant to bring their kids along with them while coming to buy tyres. Bridgestone has always regarded children as an important influence on their parents and keeping this in mind we want to propagate the importance of protecting the environment through them".
Manu Manasheet who has 15 years of experience in Visual Merchandising, Styling and Interior Makeover feels, “It might not help in the immediate sales, but definitely in the future sales, these stores have a lot of recall value which helps them gain customer loyalty. Not only that particular customer, but through word of mouth publicity, as a lot of ‘delhi walas’ are braggers, it brings in more customers to these stores”.
Fashion and style are something that has moved beyond clothes. Coco Chanel, French fashion designer and founder of Chanel, once said.”Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening”. Stores are following the phrase and are becoming fashionable. The modern retail format has given an opportunity to the consumer not only to buy physical products but provides an emotional and sensory experience as well.
Vishal Kapoor, Strategic Design Head, Future Group said, “Indian market is in a transition from being a product market to a customer market. And that is where the brand has to speak and make the customer feel connected to the brand. Eventually the brand is not only about the product but beholds the identity of the customer”.
This type of store has become the part of many cities’ cultural environment. The trend is spreading fast in the metros like Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore. “The concept stores today have become the ‘visiting card’ of the brands”, Manu added. The entirety of the products is not in the packet that you carry back home but the experience and the ambience in which these products are sheltered. “The strategy of the stores is not to sell you a set of products but to convert a customer into a client”, Kapoor added.
According to the report called ‘Future of retail’ by PSFK agency, specialists feel that concept stores are the answer to increasing customer requirements.
From West to the Rest
The concept of concept stores, though started in America, has been spreading across the entire globe. India is witnessing more and more brands establishing their presence and thus such stores have become a part of our shopping experience. It started with the food services sector in India. Bangalore, which is called as the Pub Capital saw many such concept based resto bars opening. Themes of beach, sports, theatre and music gained the popularity among the lively IT crowd of the city. However, the concept did not confine only within the food and drinks sector but soon areas like fashion, books and music saw normal stores converting into concept stores.
A glimpse of a few such stores can only make you know them better.
Benetton Concept store: Delhi
Benetton's new megastore In Hamilton House, Connaught Place, New Delhi, combines innovation with history. The new interior design concept introduced is currently present in major European cities including Milan, Paris, London, Frankfurt and Istanbul. The design concept of the first-of-its-kind Benetton store in Asia successfully blends the group's innovation-driven identity, with the vibrant historical elements of the Indian capital. Big metal and wooden boxes, wardrobes on castors, tables in natural shapes, rails, shelves and hanging systems that resemble large, light, sophisticated 50's-style bookcases characterise the interiors.
Bridgestone Tyres Concept store
The Concept Store aims to revolutionise the tyre buying experience, with an ardent focus on safety of customers, reliability of products and eco-friendliness of not only products but of the environment around. Every component in the Concept Store is equipped with various products like RFT (Run Flat Tyre), TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems) / GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and Tyre Safety booklets for the customers.
In an endeavour to save and protect the environment, these Concept Store, use eco-friendly paints, energy saving lights, Lead Free Weights for Tyre Balancing. Even the stationery used in the store is of recycled paper. In addition, the store also has internet zone, cafeteria and kids zone having non toxic toys.
QuikSilver Concept Store: Mumbai
Dedicated to the skateboarding and surfing culture, the store is spread over an area of 5000 sq.ft (approx) and is the first of its kind in Asia and the seventh in the world. A 3 by 6 meter skate ramp has been built within the store that allows every customer to experience skate boarding at the store. Skate boarding is an action sport which involves riding and performing tricks using a skate board. Boardriders also have a lounge area for customers to relax and get to know about the latest products from the group's leading brands, DC, Quiksilver and Roxy.