Brands are beginning to shift how they get in front of consumers outside of traditional marketing and retail channels. Today, it’s becoming less typical for consumers to travel to brick and mortar stores to browse, most will just go online for convenience. In fact, online sales are predicted to grow by an average annual rate of 9.32% over the next five years. This increase in e-commerce sales just goes to show that the original nature of the store or shop must adapt to the changing consumer. One way some retailers are starting to do this is by creating the “unstore” experience. The unstore concept isn’t solely focused on selling more products, it’s getting the products into an individual’s hands in an unexpected way.
By creating a flexible environment, the unstore is changing the way customers interact with retail brands. When you let them experience, touch, play and feel your products, you are fashioning an emotional bond that could last a lifetime. Getting into your consumer’s mindset in this way can create brand loyalty. It also generates meaningful and rich impressions for your brand aside from typical digital representations. You are allowing them to interact and physically connect with the brand.
Last year I traveled to New York City after Christmas with my teenage son and unexpectedly ran into an Apple unstore while being touristy at Grand Central Station. Located on the main concourse, the Apple setting is sleek, clean and crisp just like the brand. They took great strides to be sure the location was also a reflection of their brand.
While I wasn’t in the market to purchase any Apple products, the idea of walking around and browsing without sales pressure made me more comfortable to interact with all the gadgets and gizmos. In particular, being able to experience the new iPad Pro in my hands, at my own speed, and having the opportunity to ask questions and get to know the product more intimately created an emotional event for me. Though my purchase wasn’t immediate, the memory of this event lingered in my mind for months, I eventually bought the iPad Pro for my(self) husband for Father’s Day.
Not only is the concept of Apple’s unstore at Grand Central Station brilliant due to the sheer volume of people who travel through catching trains, but you also have tourists snapping pictures of the unstore and most are likely sharing them socially. Bravo, Apple, you have mastered product worship and enabled consumers to create ad content for your brand.
While there will continue to be a need for brick and mortar stores, the unstore can act as a brand builder to amplify products. This could be the lasting impressions your brand needs.
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