Travel Trends Could Bring Shoppers Back to Brick and Mortar

By Jen Handley, Co-CEO and Co-founder of Fizziology. 

The rise of IoT and online shopping have taken a toll on the success of independent retailers across the nation. As consumers shift their purchase habits from in-store to online, brick-and-mortar shops are faced with the challenge of attracting shoppers out of their homes, and into the store. A difficult feat considering U.S.-based store visits took a 48% nose dive from 2010 to 2013 (34 billion down to 17.6 billion).

Seeing that spending on leisure travel increased by 8% between 2015 and 2016, some lifestyle brands are making a shift of their own, entering the hospitality industry in hopes of attracting consumers with curated and familiar spaces. Taking the term “experiential retail” to new heights, the below businesses will target consumers already familiar with their brand, offering guests an immersive experience. And while you may not have national recognition – consider what you can learn from these businesses that do.

Equinox Caters to Fitness Enthusiasts

Equinox will take their health-focused image beyond the gym, becoming the first go-to hotel for fitness enthusiasts. The nationwide chain of fitness clubs will flip the traditional hotel model on its head, leading with state-of-the-art workout facilities. Whereas most hotel gyms appear to be an afterthought, Equinox’s focus on a healthy lifestyle could create a unique opportunity for travelers not currently seen in mass-chains. The brand eventually plans to have as many hotels as it does gyms.

West Elm Creates Cohesion Between Home and Hotel

Modern furniture, home decor and accessories retailer West Elm is debuting five boutique hotels in locations where the brand currently has little retail presence. The designers of clean, simple products for modern living believe the hotel offering to be a natural progression of their product. For shoppers already familiar with the West Elm aesthetic, the hotels will truly feel like a “home away from home,” providing complete cohesion between their bedroom and hotel room.

Shinola Drums up Detroit Pride

Detroit-based watch factory Shinola is creating a boutique hotel designed to attract visitors to their home base – Detroit, Michigan. Aimed at providing guests with a unique experience worthy of the city itself, the new hotel “will be strategically located in the now burgeoning shopping district on Woodward Avenue.” Social users discussing the upcoming Shinola hotel are celebrating its opening, one stating, “a new hotel we can’t wait to stay in and yes, it’s in Detroit!

What it Means for Independent Retailers

With the convergence of tourism and retail comes the opportunity for customers to interact with brands in a new, unique way. That doesn’t mean, however, that West Elm, Shinola and Equinox will leave their retail operations high and dry. Instead, the new hotel offerings will invigorate consumers and instill a sense of brand loyalty, driving increased foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations. While not all independent retailers will have the resources to open a boutique hotel of their own, there are experiential retail lessons that can be applied to your marketing mix:

Understand your core audience. This includes their likes/dislikes. Create an offering that caters exclusively to them. Be unapologetic in your preference of brand-loyal consumers, even at the risk of excluding fringe followers.

Provide your customers with a unique experiences that they can only get inside your brick-and-mortar. Whether that is an in-store demo/class, a take-home trial, an on-site expert or something completely your-own, know that consumers will travel for experience, not for product.

Play to the emotional. There’s something special about the in-store experience that can’t be replicated online. From the music playing in your shop to the seating areas you choose to offer, understand that comfort and aesthetics are key to keeping customers in store once they arrive.

In conclusion, using the lessons above make sure your store aims to cater to all audiences – including those who may only be in your local town temporarily.

Contributed by Jen Handley, the co-CEO and co-founder of global audience insights firm Fizziology. Handley works with film, TV, talent and brand clients to help them understand audience reactions to marketing and products, and devise new strategies for them based on research. Handley leads ongoing technology innovation efforts and the company’s focus on new product development.

Fizziology is a leading global audience insights firm for the entertainment, retail and travel industries. Fizziology tracks and analyzes data from multiple social media sources to provide actionable insights against comparative and normative data. Fizziology’s reporting and insights are trusted by most of the top Hollywood film studios, as well as television networks, producers and Fortune 500 brands. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Fizziology is an international research company, covering the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Russia, Korea, Japan and Australia.

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