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Retail Trends Insight: The Power of Consumer Experiences

With so many global brands having to think outside the box, License Global looks at the new innovative retail methods signifying a new era for consumer culture ahead of Brand Licensing Europe 2019 Oct. 1-3. We start our look at the latest trends in retail with a deep dive on the growing impact experiential is having on the industry as a whole.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Primark, one of the leading U.K. retailers and multi-award-winners at The Licensing Awards 2019, is celebrating its anniversary in 2019; marking 50 years of forward-thinking retail. Known for its fun and engaging activations, licensed products and dedication to bricks-and-mortar, Primark is a front-runner in pioneering consumer experiences.

“The retail landscape is ever-changing, and innovation is key to future success,” says Sarah Jackson, global director, license, Primark. “Our 373 stores in 12 markets provide us with the opportunity to offer customers an exceptional shopping experience. The in-store experience plays an important role in inspiring and engaging our customers and is what differentiates us from other retailers. At Primark, we want to bring the same amazing value to services and experiences as we do with fashion. From cafes, barbers and beauty salons to ‘shop within shops’, we are changing the perception of the shopping experience, with a progressive and innovative retail environment that is more than just a store; it’s a destination that everyone can enjoy.” 

Primark’s largest store in Birmingham is an example of building a playground, or more appropriately, a destination for consumers to experience the products and brands they love.

“Earlier this year, we opened our largest store in Birmingham, which forms the blueprint for our in-store experience and demonstrates our relentless focus on continuous product and service-led innovation,” adds Jackson. “It spans five floors, covering 160,000 sq. ft of retail space and features our largest beauty studio to date, a barber and 3 new dining experiences, including the hugely popular Primark Café with Disney. Customers can also visit our Disney shop in shop, and the Hogwarts Wizarding World, our licensed Harry Potter experience featuring clothing, accessories and gifts.”

The flagship location aims to be a pillar for future markets with Jackson reporting licensed cafes expanding into new territories in 2020.

 “In the next financial year, we will launch new services such as cafes, barbers, nail bars and beauty studios, in at least six of our markets,” says Jackson. “Our licensed cafes such as our Central Perk Café and the Primark Café with Disney have been a great success and we are currently looking at more opportunities across a number of licensed partnerships.”

Primark also embraced licensing and welcomed huge success with brands such as NASA, “Friends” and “Rick and Morty”, offering products that resonated with buyers, and now uses licensing to create an environment to build relationships with consumers in-store.

So, how will that trend continue for the nation’s beloved retailer?

“Developing the license product offering will be a key enabler in driving Primark’s future growth strategy,” says Jackson. “Licensed merchandise is a strong focus for us and our partnerships with brands such as Disney, Warner Brothers and, most recently, PlayStation, have established us as a market leader in the space. This year we have had great success with ‘Friends’, ‘Game Of Thrones’ and Toy Story merchandise across a number of departments. Our recently launched NASA collection has also been a big hit. When buying licensed products, our teams are looking at the latest, newest licenses that fit within our macro trends. The Primark buying teams are obsessed with newness which can be a be genre or a collaboration with a global brand.”

This is Not a Shop

Samsung KX, the brand’s U.K. flagship store in London’s Kings Cross, invites consumers to play. The new experience-driven store shows instead of sells, offering visitors full use of everything from living room set-ups and relaxed headphone testing areas, to cars with Bixby AI and mobile tech activations such as AR Graffiti walls. 

The store’s lifestyle and experience focus also bring consumers together with coffee shops, workspaces and workshops that introduce Londoners to products via activities; from flower-making classes and photography lessons to gaming sessions, talks and fashion events. 

“With Samsung KX, we are creating a brand-new space for the local community, but we’re going about it in a unique way,” says YH Lee, global chief marketing officer, Samsung Electronics during the launch. “This destination will be an incredible blend of local culture, face to face learning and innovation. We have redesigned our brand experience spaces to give consumers what they want–more dynamic, flexible locations where exploration is endless, and Samsung KX is a place where infinite possibilities are made real.”

The retail landscape is shifting, evolving in a cycle that brings both consolidation and more importantly, disruption; and Samsung’s KX store is an ideal hint at the levels store-fronts can go to build a world for their consumers.

Register for Brand Licensing Europe to learn more about the changing world of retail and hear from top retailers such as Primark in person. Also be sure to visit the BLE Retail Trends Lounge at the event, a dedicated space for retailers to embrace licensing through networking, expert talks and tours. 

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