The New Next: Are You Experienced?

When you work in advertising and media circles, the thought of retail communications can be a dull one, bringing to mind uninspired point-of-sale displays and staff push tactics. Retail executions from the same said agencies are, for the most part, produced as an afterthought, often containing the same messaging as the rest of a campaign as though a consumer will behave with all touch points in the same way.

Often, the most creative we can be is with a shelf wobbler. When you consider the huge opportunity to give consumers an experience in which to physically immerse themselves; retail can be the missing link to establishing a full connection with your brand.

Apple got it right years ago: They transformed the torturously lackluster computer purchasing experience into a beautifully simple and service-focused one that truly matched the aesthetic of the rest of the brand. Today, some argue that the best ad Apple ever produced was its store.

Supreme is a NYC-based skate brand that keeps their consumers in mind: A few years ago they installed an immense plywood skate bowl into their multistoried Los Angeles store. Inspired by the empty swimming pools that were home to skateboarders in the 1970s, the formerly unused piece of retail space was transformed into something that helps customers interact with the brand.

Benjy's, one of the biggest sandwich retailers in the UK, unveiled their "Delivered" service in 2003. They drive to business parks with "vanchised" vans that unfold into fully functional coffee and sandwich shops. (Think the poshest roach coach ever.) This was both good for the consumers and also gave Benjy's the opportunity to enter into areas where they previously had no presence.

Uniqlo remains consistent in its theme of accessible simplicity: Before it opened its doors in New York's SoHo, the retailer moved crate-like pop-up stores around the city to show that the affordable and label-free clothing was shipped straight from Tokyo and made accessible to us. Their Japanese design philosophy translated perfectly to the store, neatly stacking and lining up brightly-colored clothes - a retail design style that is usually reserved for high-priced fashion houses and boutiques in the United States. Uniqlo also opened a concept store called UT that celebrates the democratization of the T-shirt. When the store opened, the four-story space was stocked with nothing but T-shirts in clear plastic canisters and at affordable prices, designed by avant artists like Terry Richardson and Gareth Pugh.

When retail is needed in the marketing mix, look at it as an exciting opportunity instead of a burden. Make the move beyond the window clings.

Written by Johanna Beyenbach, associate strategist, and, as always, curated by Paul Woolmington, Naked Communications. ( and

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